Reviews for Rook : A Novel


Booklist Reviews 2011 December #1
This Australian author's first novel adroitly straddles the thin line between fantasy, thriller, and spoof. Myfanwy Thomas awakens in a park with no memory of who she is and not a clue about whom all these dead bodies belong to or why they're all wearing latex gloves. Finding an envelope in her pocket, she reads the letter inside and discovers that she is an executive in a shadowy organization, the Checquy Group, that keeps the world safe from all manner of supernatural threats. And apparently, Myfanwy has been plunked down, memory-less, at a time when an ancient enemy of the Checquy Group is massing for a resurgence. The book has, in approximately equal measures, an X-Men vibe (the Checguy Group runs a boarding school for gifted youngsters) and a Tom Holt vibe (the story is about an ordinary woman thrust into an extraordinary world and scrambling to play catch-up). O'Malley is a nimble writer, effortlessly leaping back and forth between comedy and action. There's plenty of room here for a sequel that readers will no doubt begin clamoring for before they've even finished this book. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 December #1
Secret agents as Rooks and Pawns? Plausible, since Checquy Group "is a paranormal version of Britain's MI5." In O'Malley's fantasy debut, Myfanwy Thomas awakens in a London park, chilled, wet, suffering amnesia and surrounded by dead people wearing latex gloves. In her pocket are letters from her past self, a self who understood she was in peril of memory loss and possible assassination. The letters are plans for her body's future. With that, Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) discovers she is a Rook in employ of the Checquy, an organization in service of Britain since ancient times. Checguy has field agents called Pawns who are overseen by Rooks, Bishops and Lords. Each has a supernatural power, as exampled by the Pawn able to "breathe cyanide and sweat tear gas." Employing more letters and dossiers left by her former self, Myfanwy-without-memory takes her place in Checquy, attempting to suss out who she is, what she does and who wants her dead. She learns she is a high-level administrator, her supernatural power being mind control, but with a personality more forceful than formerly, she attracts the attention of her Rook counterpart, the disturbing Gesalt, one personality alive in four bodies. Myfanwy soon earn kudos protecting Britain against the antler cult, a houseful of goop and a villain manifesting as a roomful of human flesh. However, it is only after she uncovers the ancient Wetenschappeljik Broederschap van Natuurkundigen of Brussels—the Grafters—that she finds clues leading to the Checguy traitor who robbed her of her memory. With O'Malley using first-Myfanwy's letters to provide history and backstory, second-Myfanwy grows into her hero-role and other characters are revealed as suitably creepy in the right and wrong ways. O'Malley's narrative is peppered with sly humor, referential social commentary and the ironic, double-layered self-awareness that will have genre fans believing Buffy the Vampire Slayer has joined Ghostbusters. No clairvoyance required to recognize there will be more outlier reports from Myfanwy, Rook of the Checquy. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2011 August #1

Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in a London park with no memory but a new body and instructions left behind by her former self. Following them, she discovers that she's a Rook, that is, a high-level operative of a shadowy agency charged with countering supernatural forces. Alas, she's been targeted by a mole within the agency. Part suspense, part dark humor, this debut is rumored to be one of those up-all-nighters.

[Page 57]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Library Journal Reviews 2011 October #1

Myfanwy (rhymes with "Tiffany") Thomas wakes up in a London park surrounded by dead men, all wearing latex gloves. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. She finds two letters in the pocket of her jacket from her body's former owner. The first tells her the body is now hers and warns of danger. Myfanwy is a Rook, a high-level operative in a clandestine security force charged with protecting Britain from supernatural forces, and there's a mole in the organization who's trying to kill her. Possessed of her own supernatural powers, underestimated until now, Myfanwy proves unexpectedly resourceful and is soon kicking butt with the best of them. The pace never lets up in this entertaining high-action read. The ending is a letdown, but that's a small flaw in a great thriller. VERDICT First-time novelist O'Malley has fashioned a near-perfect supernatural thriller. The heroine is appealing, the villains all monsters or freaks, and something unexpected happens on almost every page. Don't start this book unless you've got lots of time, because you won't want to put it down. It's that good. [See Prepub Alert, 7/11/11.]--David Keymer, Modesto, CA

[Page 72]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 October #5

At the start of Australian author O'Malley's impressive debut, a supernatural detective thriller distinguished by its adept use of humor, an unknown woman reads a letter that opens "Dear You" and closes "Sincerely, Me." The letter informs the woman that she now inhabits the body of Myfanwy Alice Thomas. A second letter from Thomas gives her body's new mental occupant a choice--either flee London to take up a new, carefree life of affluence, or pretend that she is in fact Thomas in order to identify the person responsible for her memory loss. If the situation isn't confusing enough, the "new" Thomas finds herself in the middle of a park in a heavy rain; scattered on the ground are motionless bodies wearing latex gloves. After making the more interesting choice, she learns that Thomas is a "Rook," one of the leaders of a super-secret government organization that protects an unknowing public from a wide variety of paranormal threats. While the "old" Thomas has left detailed explanations about people and things for her successor, the "new" Thomas still must struggle to mask her complete ignorance about some of her major responsibilities. Dry wit, surprising reversals of fortune, and a clever if offbeat plot make this a winner. Dr. Who fans will find a lot to like. (Jan.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

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