by Daniel O’Malley
2012. 496 pages.
Series: The Checquy Files #1
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Supernatural
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
“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 vaster than she ever could have imagined.
First Sentence: Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine.
This novel was recommended to me by a friend a while back and I figured since I had run out of Murakami novels to read at that point in time, I’d give The Rook a shot. The beauty of this story is that it opens with a situation that immediately grabs your attention and sucks you in. A woman wakes up with no memory of who she is and has no idea how she came to be standing alone under a dimly lit lamppost on a dark stormy night, surrounded by dead bodies.
The only clue she has is a series of notes written by her “former self” before she lost her memories. The letters are reveled throughout the book to help guide the story along and piece together the events that lead up to the scene in the first chapter. I like the shift of perspective from former Myfanwy to the new one. It added a rich flavor to her overall character development. It was an overall clever way of giving meaning to present events without throwing in too much history at once.
It’s made clear early on that Myfanwy is an important figure in a super-secret organization that oversees and observes all things supernatural, and that she herself, possesses a frightening superhuman ability. There’s also a traitor in the higher ranks who is ultimately responsible for Myfanwy’s memory loss. It’s a great book for those who enjoy the supernatural genre with a touch of sci-fi to accent it.
The characters are interesting and easy to follow, each adding their own brand of uniqueness to the story. I was happy to see that they didn’t overdo the use of their vampire character, as the author had every opportunity to turn it into a full vampire novel. I love vampires and Alrich is a great character. I’m just glad that his vampiric lore didn’t steal the story away from the other characters. Perhaps it’s this reason that the author chose to keep Alrich’s scenes short and sweet.
It was fun trying to figure out who the traitor was, and Myfanwy was a likable character, both past, and present versions. The character that stole the show for me however was Gestalt, who is actually one person that simultaneously lives in three different sibling bodies. I find the concept intriguing as well as disturbing, and while I won’t spoil it, the plot twist of Gestalt’s character at the end left me a bit sick to my stomach. Regardless, the story was an excellent read and it left me ordering the sequel from Amazon almost immediately after finishing the last page.
“I’m not bipolar, I’ve just had a bipolar life foisted upon me.”
“She was tall, and dressed in the kind of casual clothes that will let you kill someone easily and won’t draw attention from passersby. Khakis are good for this sort of thing.”
“You look like Cinderella,” said Val in awe.
“Yeah, if she’d been into bondage and had Christian Dior for a godmother.”
“A clean mind and a clean body make for a perfect weapon”