On Her Majesty's Supernatural Secret Service is the tagline for this first novel from Daniel O'Malley and that's exactly what it is. What a fun read this was!
This was a guts buy from the get go. I saw it in a list of first books on a book blog, I think and was intrigued by the blurb so I added it to my 'to buy' list about a year ago. I don't recall any type of review or even comment on it, but I do remember that this was the part that hooked me...
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.
One of the things that makes this book stand out is that it's filled with humour and a healthy dose of irreverence. It has some real laugh out loud scenes which is like a breath of fresh air. Sometimes though, I thought the author got carried away and there was one scene in a very tense part of the book where the humour got fairly slapstick and if it had been toned down just a bit I think the scene would have worked a lot better.
There are also info-dumps... OMG, are there info-dumps! But you know what? They work for the most part because they're presented as letters of instruction from the former Myfanwy to the one in the story. There were one or two that I found a bit too long and tedious and wondered exactly what they were bringing to the narrative. For those two reasons, I rated The Rook as 4 stars instead of 4.5.
The characters are fun and if they're sometimes a bit over the top, I refer you to the tagline once again. Same thing with the plot. But it does all hang together, it all works, and that's what matters to me. This was a book I was looking forward to continue reading whenever I had to put it down. There's a second book coming in 2016 (Stiletto), but really, The Rook does stand well enough on its own.