The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

May 22, 2012

A woman opens her eyes to find herself surrounded by dead bodies. She has no idea what happened. What’s just as, if not more, frightening and disorienting is that she has no idea who she is. The only information she has to go on comes from two letters she finds in her pocket, letters that begin “Dear You” and that seem to have been written by herself.

Slowly, Myfanwy Thomas learns who she is and what she does. It turns out that there’s a whole supernatural world that exists alongside the “normal” world. Myfanwy works for a secret organization in England that keeps tabs on this other world and steps in to take care of any issues or problems that arise.

Unlike many other supernatural stories, the focus in The Rook is not on the usual suspects: werewolves, witches, vampires, sorcerers, etc. Some people are simply, and with no explanation, born with differing powers. These powers range from internal; chameleon-like abilities, being able to contort one’s body, creating chemicals within one’s body and emitting them through the skin’s pores, etc. to external; manipulating metal, affecting other people’s bodily functions, entering people’s dreams, etc.

The Rook uses the appealing technique of letters written to the main character to move the story along. It’s a technique I thoroughly enjoyed as I like to have the story world explained clearly. Along with Myfanwy, we are given explanations about the most important aspects of her world, including how the secret organization works, who the key players are, and some history. The letters to Myfanwy, from Myfanwy, are spread throughout the book, so the reader isn’t overwhelmed with too much information and the action isn’t slowed down for chapters at a time.

I would recommend The Rook for anyone who likes both intelligence agency and supernatural stories.

Reviewed by Diane H.
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