The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

the-rook-headerdan-omalleyAuthor: Daniel O’Malley

Dan O’Malley graduated from Michigan State University and earned a Master’s Degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He then returned to his childhood home, Australia. He now works for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, writing press releases for government investigations of plane crashes and runaway boats.

Genre: Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Science-Fiction & Fantasy, Fiction, Supernatural, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Read… mostly on the bus while…fighting off a cold and sitting in horrible traffic

Title: The Rook (The Checquy Files #1)

Publisher: Back Bay Books

Publication Date: January 11, 2012

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Review: 4 out of 5 Stars






Summary (from Goodreads): “The body you are wearing used to be mine.” So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, The Rook is a richly inventive, suspenseful, and often wry thriller that marks an ambitious debut from a promising young writer.


Myfanwy Thomas – pronounced “Miff-uh-nee” like Tiffany – awakens in the rain, with no memory of who she is or why she is surrounded by a bunch of dead people all of whom are wearing latex gloves. The only clue she finds are two envelopes in her jacket pocket (numbered “1” and “2”), and when she opens “1” she finds a letter addressed to her…from her.

Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine.

With those letters, Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) discovers she is a Rook employed by the Checquy, an organization in service of Britain since ancient times. Secret agents as Rooks and Pawns? Plausible, since Checquy Group “is a paranormal version of Britain’s MI5.” Checquy 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. With only the letters of the departed ghost of the old Myfanwy Thomas to guide her, the new Myfanwy must pretend that all is well and carry on with business as usual, but discover the villain before he or she succeeds in his or her dastardly plan.

Overall, this book was a delight to read. There were echoes of a Jason Bourne-like identity crisis throughout the novel, with much more lightheartedness and sense of understated and dry comedy. Moments of dry humor surprised me as a reader and kept me chuckling throughout the book. For example,

With the sort of power these new processes granted them, the members of the brotherhood were in the perfect position to seize power. In any other country, a massive, bloody war would have ensued. Horrors would have stalked the land, unholy amalgamations of flesh would have fought on the fields and the nights would have held new unspeakable terrors.

Fortunately this is Belgium we’re talking about!”

Although the plot was interesting, the comedy strong, and the characters intriguing, the pacing of the book was on the slower side. The book takes a while to pick up, but once it does, it holds its own all the way through the end to the climax. If you are looking for a fast read, this is not it.

Overall, The Rook is a strong debut novel by Daniel O’Malley. Dr. Who fans will find a lot to like; think Buffy the Vampire Slayer joining forces with Ghostbusters. If you enjoy urban fantasies and detective thrillers then give The Rook a chance. I will definitely read the second book in this series, Stiletto.

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