I picked The Rook up free at GenreCon in Sydney, Australia – part of the free goodie bag every conference attendee receives. Though it was outside my main reading tastes (i.e. not epic fantasy), the blurb intrigued me, and it certainly contained enough elements of the supernatural for me to say ‘close enough is good enough’.
Myfanwy Thomas (pronounced Miffany, to rhyme with Tiffany, rather than the correct Welsh pronunciation – ugh) opens her eyes in a park, surrounded by a ring of dead men, with a letter addressed to ‘You’ from ‘Me’ – the former occupant of the body.
Intriguing, but I must confess the initial chapters had me most confused as to whether this was a case of body-switching (my first impression) or amnesia. By about a quarter of the book, I’d settled comfortably on amnesia, but a quarter is too much to be confused and I was disappointed because I’d misunderstood, and the body-switching sounded far more interesting than garden variety amnesia.
Guided by the letters, Myfanwy must decide whether to find out who is trying to kill her (the former ‘her’) or escape to a life of comfortable anonymity. Having chosen to flee her unknown assassins, she is thwarted in the attempt by an attack at the bank where she is to retrieve instructions on how to make a clean escape. When she mysteriously leaves her assailants unconscious, she instead elects to resume her former life and hunt down the person trying to kill her.
Myfanwy discovers she is a ‘Rook’ in the Checquy, UK government department tasked with controlling the supernatural – one of the eight powerful leaders of the organisation, and possessed of supernatural powers of her own. Using comprehensive notes left by her predecessor, who knew she was to lose her memory, she bluffs her way through her first few days of fumbling ignorance to secure her position in the organisation. Once established, she sets out to find the traitor in their midst, and stave off an ancient, powerful enemy from the Checquy’s past.
While the plot was intriguing and enjoyable, and by the end I was completely enthralled and found myself compelled to finish, desperate to know the identity of the traitor, I found the book suffered from a number of problems that on a pickier day would have led me to drop the book like a hot potato. As it was, I was at least halfway in before I felt fully invested, and that is far too late.
Myfanwy. What kind of person would take someone whose name is pronounced ‘Miffany’ seriously? Worse, someone called her ‘Miffy’. My toddler watches a cartoon with a rabbit called Miffy. I cannot abide it. I have no idea what purpose this incorrect pronunciation of the name was intended to serve. When Myfanwy’s long lost sister turned up, it appeared Myfanwy had been mispronouncing her own name (not that revelation change anything). Given she was old enough to know how to pronounce her own name when she was taken into government training, I’ve no idea how this happened, or why it happened, except to annoy the reader.
Read the rest of the review here: http://www.fantasyblog.ciaraballintyne.com/2012/11/the-rook-book-review.html
Ciara is a writer of high fantasy. A fantasy lover from her early years, this loyal, passionate, quirky, strong-willed, confident woman is bent on world domination and already has a couple of minions in the making. Born argumentative and recognising the long road to make money out of writing, Ciara wisely invested her natural inclinations in a career in law. Her favourite authors include Terry Goodkind, Terry Pratchett, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan and Brent Weeks. She is the official dragon expert of #stabbylove.
More information about Ciara Ballintyne can be found on www.ciaraballintyne.com