Daniel O’Malley’s debut, The Rook, is a wonderful Urban Fantasy that begins with a simple premise: it opens with the protagonist reading a letter to herself, explaining her current predicament. She wakes in a London park with no memory of how she got there or who she really is. It’s a brilliant opening, so brilliant, I thought, that the novel couldn’t possibly continue with that level of quality. But The Rook continues at pace with a great story, a wonderful protagonist, and a fantastic background and setting for the novel. The author maintains the element of mystery, that essential question that keeps us reading to find out more, and even though the protagonist does not know much about herself, the writing is superb and we discover Myfanwy’s nature alongside her little by little. Slowly, we learn about the mysterious organisation she works for and her role within it, sharing in her tension as – still without clear memories – she tries to fake it as best as she can.
The story is superbly told as we learn about The Checquy, a secret agency that deals with supernatural threats, and discover that there’s a threat within the organisation that Myfanwy must try and root out, all while having no memory prior to waking up in that park in less than ideal circumstances.
O’Malley’s debut is an outstanding piece of modern fiction, a blend of supernatural, espionage, and mystery all bound up in noir-tinged authorial voice.