The Rook

She came to a decision, pulled her feet out of the mire, and stepped carefully over the ring of bodies that were scattered around her. They were all motionless, and all of them were wearing latex gloves.

So far as openings go, that was certainly one to get my attention.

On top of that, one of the core conceits of the book is that the main character is suffering from amnesia1. So we get to learn about the world and its rules as she does. It’s a pretty decent way to build up a complicated setting without having to dump everything all at once. Plus you get some amusing moments:

God, who knew it would be so horrendously complicated impersonating oneself?

The entire idea of the book ends up being a branch of the British government with supernatural powers designed to deal with supernatural threats. It’s not the only book with that concept, but it’s done well enough and there are a few neat twists in the world building. The powers in particular are amusing to read about:

Gestalt took to the Checquy like four strange, hive-minded ducks to water. Or maybe that should be one strange mind inhabiting four ducks. Damn it. This is why Gestalt is so irritating to work with.

Little boys with tusks. Teenage girls who could talk with clouds and get intelligible answers. Some poor youth who possessed a psychic control over flamingos.

One boy was linked to atmospheric phenomena in Iceland, but on such a deep and complex level that no one really understood how they were related.

Good times.

Structurally, the book is a bit rough, with action scenes intermixed with infodump letters from pre-amnesia Myfanwy to post. Interesting all, just quite a shift from time to time. There are some really gross violence / body horror bits and some downright hilarious dialog / descriptions.

One thing that annoyed me a bit was just how cavaeiler Myfanwy was about the whole ‘secret government agent’ thing. She hides things from her coworkers they really need to know, tells secrets to people she just met, and all around doesn’t seem like a very good spy at times. The amnesia helps to explain it, but it’s still jarring.

Still. If you like supernatural thrillers with spy novel overtones, this is a pretty wonderful book. It doesn’t quite make it on my list of books to re-read some day, but I’m glad I read it and look forward to reading the sequel.


  1. It’s not actually clear if she’s actually suffering from amnesia or had a personality transplant and the new Myfanwy2 is a totally different person from the old Myfanwy. It annoys me a bit that this isn’t really resolved, although I guess to some extent, it doesn’t actually matter in the end…
    [return]
  2. It’s Miffany. Just go with it. [return]
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