Right. Okay. So. For week 28 I read The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. There is a Wikipedia page, but I won’t link to it because it gives a summary and that’s just not cool when you intend to read the book. Which you should. I’m going to say right now that yes, you should read this book. I heard of it from a friend on Twitter who read it and did some flailing about trying to find someone — anyone — who had read the book and could discuss it with her. It was rather notably violent flailing, but in an excited, squeeing sort of way that tends to lean toward fanfiction and cosplay. I should also, before I get more distracted by my own squeeing, note that if you click on that link, there, it will take you to the author’s page and you can read the first four chapters on his website.
Ahem. Now that THAT part is out of the way, let me calm my tits and proceed in a semi-orderly fashion.
Let us just say that I quite understand why she was so excited to talk to someone about this book. I can’t believe it took me so long for me to actually read it once I purchased it.
Firstly, it’s fun. The mystery hits you right off the bat, and you and the main character are simultaneously trying to figure out what the hell is going on from the very beginning. That is definitely the advantage with having an amnesiac as the main character.
Secondly, the main character is pretty damned believable. I realize that flaws are a natural and necessary part of every character, but it really irritates me when an author puts a lot of work into creating a character who is supposed to be intelligent, logical, cautious, and precise, and they do something unbelievably out of character because the plot calls for it. In this case, the main character is presented with a very big, but very basic choice: continue on this weird course that is dangerous enough to have nearly killed you once, or retire. If the first thing you could remember in your life was opening your eyes to find yourself standing in the rain, surrounded by a circle of dead bodies, with no idea who you were or how you had gotten there, beaten half to death yourself, what would any sensible person choose? Perhaps I’m not burdened with an over-abundance of vengeance, but it seems to me that any sensible person would choose a hammock on a beach (actually, a cabin in Canada would be my preference) rather than more cloak-and-dagger, especially when you haven’t the faintest idea who’s after you or why. (Even more disturbingly, your former self has no idea, either.) It’s a small thing, but it’s important. Whether or not the character is allowed to actually achieve retirement is up to the author, you see.
Thirdly, the main character doesn’t do a whole lot of whining and moping about. She’s not even that cranky about the whole thing. It’s hard, yes, but she has the help of her former self through letters, notes, schematics, and extensive explanations. I like that the main character doesn’t brood the whole damn time; she is not Batman, she is not necessarily seeking vengeance, but she is seeking understanding. Eventually she is seeking justice, and she doesn’t really shy away from doling it out, either. Bastards is bastards, and they get what they deserve.
I really hope there are more stories like this from O’Malley. Not necessarily about Myfanwy Thomas, you understand, although I like her well enough; but about the company she works for and all the Cthulhu-esque creatures they fight against, the people in the organization….the whole crew, really. It has a lot of potential for exploration. I hope O’Malley does.