"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.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up The Rook. My brother bought the novel for me for Christmas and gave me a strange look when he handed it over "You know this was in the Sci-Fi section right?" I had no idea. The best thing about The Rook is that it's very difficult to categorize. It's not fantasy really, it's not science fiction, it's definitely not a young adult book like the cover might suggest.
I really enjoyed the structure of the book. As Myfanwy begins to discover who she is through the letters she has left herself, we are gradually introduced to her story, the world she lives in and the backstory of the plot. It becomes a very clever and compelling way to "information dump" knowledge about the world that O'Malley has created without overloading the actual text with unnecessary details and lengthy descriptive paragraphs. (The bane of fantasy novelists everywhere.)
The heart of the plot itself is an interesting concept. A super-secret agency within the United Kingdom that is responsible for taking care of the supernatural problems of the country. Many of the agents have their own supernatural powers, taken from their parents when young and trained for the agency their whole lives, making them particularly qualified for their jobs.
Half sci-fi/supernatural/fantasy book and half government/spy book, the novel takes a number of really interesting twists and turns along the way. My biggest complaint is that it is long. Really long. Unnecessarily long. While it never felt "draggy" - it was not exactly concise either, and could have been edited down signficantly. But if you're not looking for a super quick read, it's very enjoyable.