If J. K. Rowling had written an adult level book about the Ministry of Magic, especially the Auror department, it would be a lot like this--except no one in The Rook needs a wand to use their unique powers. This story is humorous, action-packed, filled with world-building detail, and populated with many interesting characters that I hope to get to know better in future books. O'Mally was able to create a very interesting way of handling a character with amnesia so that it isn't at all like anything I've read before and made me care very much about the main character--both in her before and after manifestations.
As good as it is, there is room for improvement as this writer continues to grow. The Rook ended with extended double denouments of too much talk and, while very interesting and humorous, some insertions of letters from "Thomas" broke up the pacing. Also, like many such books, I felt there were one or two too many harrowing moments packed into too short a span--but that's just me. A couple of times the action became a little silly--Myfanwy trying to answer her phone--and I feared it was devolving into farce, but those few moments passed and the humor returned to clever rather than silly. Still, overall this is a very good story that is well written and worth every minute of listening time.
The narrator did a very good job, in my opinion. Some reviewers complain about the sing-song nature of her voice, but I found it to be a lovely and lyrical accent. I must admit that the narrator's tone was so even and matter-of-fact at times that I nearly missed the fact that what she was saying was humorous, but it only meant I needed to pay closer attention to words because if my mind drifted I might miss something.
All in all, this is a great beginning to a new series--please let it be a series!
Very seldom am I tempted to listen to a story again. Though I know the second time, when enough time has elapsed, can be pretty good. Rook would be on the list for consideration, though next time I may read it. I was not as impressed by the delivery of the reader.
I liked the interesting world the author created, and the uniqueness of the superhero like characters.
reading grocery list
the very beginning, surrounded by bodies and no memory. Fun and gripping.
I would recommend the story, but i am having trouble finishing it because of the cadence of the narrator.. it's level level up level level up is very annoying to me, but perhaps someone else wouldn't be bothered by it.
less artifice and more natural speaking. When she did characters, they were ok, but the general 3rd person narration was so repetative and sing-song, it just made me forget what she was saying.
The Gene Mutation (i.e., superpowers ala X-Men) "a day in the life of" with an amnesiac main character was an interesting premise, but in the end failed to deliver. There were some stellar reviews, and an interesting premise, but in the end I felt that the story moved slowly, and the climax wasn't worth the 17 hours to get there.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a fan of YA, and this book verges strongly on YA.
I'm an artist & a Community Manager and an avid reader and audio book addict. Thanks to this community for your reviews!
This is the first time I've ever returned a book on audible - the narration was completely horrid - I could not focus on the content at all because of the weird sing-song cadence of the narrator. Every sentence was just an arpeggio - with her voice going up and down with each syllable. I have no idea how people gave the performance anything above one star. It's completely bizarre.
Sci-fi/Fantasy geek :)
I really did like this book! I wanted to like it a lot more, but two things brought it down. First, the narrator is really good, but during the parts of the book with no characters speaking, she gets very sing-songy and it drove me just a bit crazy (not hard to do) if I thought about it too much. I can't find it anywhere, but I swear she also did some narration on The Golden Compass audiobook. I like everything about her except that every sentence has to end going....uuuuup. This was actually more minor than the second thing.
The second thing I couldn't get past was the antagonists, the grafters. Their capabilities are supposedly based on pure science, but they can do things that go far beyond the people who have super abilities! I LOVE science, so I was just unable to accept this concept of a totally secret group of people who have the scientific abilities attributed to them in the book. If the grafters had some supernatural leader that was channeling supernatural energy to make all of their stuff possible, I could even buy that, but to say it was pure science, bah! To say there were people who centuries ago could men who could craft flesh and organs with capabilities beyond what we have available even today, nope. For me, this all but ruined a really good book and since it is clear that they will have a part in a sequel, I doubt I'll be buying that either.
hooked on a feelin'
I read this book in print last year and fell in love with it. I chose this book as my inaugural Audible purchase precisely because I had read the book and because I enjoyed it so much. I wanted to see what listening to the book would add to the experience.
In terms of the story itself, it will be very hard for you to find a genre-bending story that is more inventive than The Rook. The story is fast-paced, well-written, and chock full of fascinating characters with fascinating stories and abilities. The plot starts off strong and holds your attention throughout. The story is part murder mystery, part thriller, part fantasy. O'Malley is great at developing both the story line and the characters, and I appreciated the wry humor here and there. He also does a great job describing things that are hard to describe, specifically some of the more fantastical characters, objects, and capabilities of said characters and objects. This has the effect of really drawing you into his world.
Others reviewing here and on amazon.com have provided a plot synopsis, so I won't do that here. I do strongly believe that if you like thrillers, but aren't into fantasy, or vice versa, you should definitely give this story a try. It is a thoroughly satisfying read!
In terms of the narration, while I feel it was generally good, there were a couple of features of the narration itself that did detract from the story. The narrator's voice (or choice of voice) had a breathy quality, and she often ended sentences or phrases with a shift downward in tone. The problem was that this technique was used too much. Unfortunately I was unable to get used to it. During the quieter times in the story line, it got a little distracting. I also found her characterizations of the Belgians to be overly grating. I appreciate that it may be difficult for a woman to perform a voice characterization of a Belgian man having a hissy fit, and also appreciate the need to differentiate a wide variety of voice characterizations from a variety of cultures, but I just wanted her to be done when she was voicing just about all of the Belgians.
Please, please, please, do not let that dissuade you, however! My boyfriend also listened to this book, and he did not have the same reaction to those aspects of the performance as I did. The book is more than worth your time and credits / money. Very highly recommended!
Sci-fi, History, Police Procedurals and Science
Another of those science-fiction-set-in-familiar-places-and-times like Halting State. Not centered on space or jump gates -- not even sure it is really science fiction.....but it is GOOD fiction and certainly not based in what we normally think of as reality. Unlike my usual reviews -- I'm not going to say a lot more about this one. No comparisons or discussion. You should listen to it because someone put an awful lot of thought and work into making this fascinating. They did quite the job of it. I also liked the narrator generally, but she has an intra-sentence rhythm that I found hard at times -- just saying for next time.
I loved this book and I loved listening to it. Susan Duerden did a fantastic job reading it. I have listened to it several times, and have enjoyed it every time. It is the perfect blend of government mystery and fantasy - two genres I love. I am waiting for more from Daniel O'Malley. This is fast pased and keeps you guessing. You will not be disappointed. I am an avid reader in both audible and written formats and I will say there are some books I refuse to listen to because I can not stand how the reader interprets the book. This book I believe is enhanced by Susan Duerden and I'm sure I would like it in book form but I love it in the audible format.
I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.
Imagine if J.K. Rowling had decided to do a Ministry of Magic novel and you’ve basically got the set-up for The Rook.
The Rook has a little bit of everything in it: It’s as if O’Malley took some of the best (and worst) tropes from the last 20 years of genre fiction, tossed them into a blender with his own special ingredients, and served up a tasty little cocktail with fruit and an umbrella. It starts off a bit like the Bourne Identity, with Myfanwy – an amnesiac protagonist – who can do brutal, dangerous, and mysterious things. But instead of going on the run, she goes into the office to figure out who set her up. I don’t know if I completely buy that either, but it leads to dangers like possessed houses, sexy vampires, monsters, dragons, and office Christmas parties that O’Malley would’ve been hard-pressed to write about any other way. In general, the results are a lot of fun, and best of all, it’s actually funny.
I didn’t completely love it – the sudden additions of New Cool Magical Thing from chapter to chapter made it feel as if O’Malley was making it up as he was going along – not that there’s anything wrong with that; it just didn’t feel completely united or streamlined in the final analysis. The reveal of who wiped out Myfanwy’s memories, for example, doesn’t feel as planned out as it could as it could’ve been. Additionally, the Checquy, the secret covert organization Myfanwy works for, felt far more morally questionable than either Myfanwy or O’Malley acknowledge.
These are minor quibbles in what was a generally pleasant listen, though. And something O’Malley does really well is use the dual narratives to worldbuild and infodump in a glorious way – the Rook formerly known as Myfanwy has written a notebook to her future amnesiac self about the world she’ll soon be immersed in. It’s a neat trick, and the way the story alternates between the two narratives is a lot of fun.
What I can’t nitpick is Susan Duerden’s fantastic reading. The banter between the characters is delivered with so much fun, I could listen to a whole book featuring Myfanwy and her American counterpart.
I hope O’Malley writes more books in this series, and that some of them involve the POV of non-magical characters connected to the Checquy.