Book Review: The Rook

The Rook (The Checquy Files #1)

by Daniel O’Malley.

The Rook Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas wakes up surrounded by dead bodies, with no memory and a strange letter in hand. Through information left by her pre-amnesia self, Myfanwy learns that a) she has special powers, b) she’s pretty high up in a secret organization, and c) someone inside it betrayed her. Thus kicks off a romp through the world of British secret intelligence- if supernatural threats were a real thing and there was a government division to deal with them. It’s one part spy thriller, one part mystery, one part action-adventure, and a nice dose of wry humor to wash it all down.

This was a pretty enjoyable read. The characters were distinct from one another and consistent, if not particularly original. They were all recognizable types: American Who Likes Guns, Aging But Handsome Ladies Man, Snooty Upper Crust Lady. For the most part, they didn’t get much more individual than that, but I found I didn’t really mind. It was persistently entertaining, and the framework of British government bureaucracy was a new twist that lent a bit of absurdity. Myfawny is dealing with lost memory and a dangerous traitor, but still has to file paperwork and attend meetings.

As for the plotline, it was decent but not very subtle. This is not a mystery that will cause you a headache trying to sort it out. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your mood and preferences. I was listening to this as an audiobook while driving cross-country, so for me, it was a good fit at the time.

I could tell, however, that the author was male, even though our narrator was 1st person POV female. There were just some instances and details where that shown through clearly. But the author also managed to do two things which I always appreciate in a book: create a clear ending for the book even while nicely (not annoyingly) setting up for a sequel; and throwing in a few minor curveballs (a death and a heart- vague enough to not be spoilery?).

Overall, it was a fun read, and I’ve picked up the sequel to see what happens next.

I give it 3.5/5 stars.

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The Rook

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Book Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein I hesitated over whether to write a review of this book for the simple fact that I wasn’t sure how to convey why I liked it without some major spoilers. I’m still not sure how to do that, but I’ll give it a whirl. Some basic facts: It takes place during World War II. It centers around the friendship between two English girls, Maddie and Queenie. One of them is a pilot, one of them is a spy. One of them is captured, one of them isn’t (not giving anything away, this is in […]

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Book Review: India Black

India Black By Carol K. Carr The new fiction shelf at my library turns up some fun things sometimes. This was a fun and quick read. A madame at a brothel in London in 1876 becomes embroiled with one of England’s spymasters and matters of national security when a top government official dies at her establishment. The action is well-paced, the characters likeable (if not 100% believable), and Carr sets it up well for sequels/a series. India has a mysterious backstory that is hinted at in intriguing tidbits but not fully explored yet. The real-world history exposition can be a […]

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