I am not a big reader of fantasy novels but the tag line on the cover of The Rook drew me in and I decided to pick it up—“On her Majesty’s Supernatural Secret Service.” I’m so glad I did. The Rook was a lot of fun to read!
The book begins with the heroine Myfanwy Thomas (Myfanwy rhymes with Tiffany) waking up in a London park surrounded by dead people all wearing latex gloves. She has no memory of what happened or how she arrived at the park. In fact, she has no memories at all. Myfanwy does find two envelopes in her pocket addressed “To You.” In the first letter, the “new” Myfanwy finds out that the letter is from her former self and gives instructions on getting to a safe house where she is to open the second letter. From the letters from her “old” self, Myfanwy discovers that she is a high-ranking official called The Rook in a secret government agency call the Checquy. The purpose of the Checquy is to protect England from supernatural threats. Of course, some of the members of Checquy have supernatural abilities themselves, including Myfanwy.
In the second letter, the “old” Myfanwy explains that the “new” Myfanwy has two choices—she can escape England and establish a new identity or she can stay and assume the “old” Myfanwy’s position in the Checquy. By staying in England, the “new” Myfanwy will need to track down her enemies and save the Checquy from a hostile takeover, which means she’s saving England too. To help her, her old self has left her a series of letters explaining her job, the organization, and the events that took place up to the unsuccessful attempt on her life in the park. By choosing to stay, “new” Myfanwy’s begins a series of adventures as she encounters a large assortment of both normal and supernatural beings. The supernaturals range from Gestault (one personality who inhabits four bodies) and the Barghests (supernatural soldiers) to one of the Grafters (the enemy) who inhabits a large and apparently portable fish tank. While there might be supernatural beings and happenings in Myfanwy’s world, the English setting and everyday life are still recognizable to those of us who are mere mortals.
Both the “old” and the “new” Myfanwy earned my respect. The “old” Myfanwy impressed me with her foresight and organization as her letters become poignant and reflective as she faces the loss of herself. The “new” Myfanwy impresses you with the way she tackles each obstacle with strength and humor as she learns her way around her new world, as well as how she learns to deal with her own special power.
To me The Rook reads like a thriller that just happens to have a fantasy element. The author moves the plot along smartly and I found I couldn’t put it down. Readers who like stories with a touch of the paranormal will like this book, but readers who like thrillers might also wish to give it try.
Check the WRL catalog for The Rook