In this spirited sequel to the acclaimed The Rook, Myfanwy Thomas returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic - and slimy - supernatural war.
When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers - and the bureaucratic finesse - to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:
The Checquy - the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and...
The Grafters - a centuries-old supernatural threat.
But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women who absolutely hate each other can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.
Stiletto is a novel of preternatural diplomacy, paranoia, and snide remarks from an author who "adroitly straddles the thin line between fantasy, thriller, and spoof" (Booklist).
©2016 Daniel O'Malley (P)2016 Hachette Audio
Larry & Cheryl. Truck Driver/retired military and Dental Hygenist, respectively. Interests: action, sci-fi, urban fantasy, & historical fict
I rank this as a 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5
In 2012, Daniel O’Malley published his debut novel “The Rook”. An instant best seller, it was nothing short of brilliant in its vision and execution and, in my opinion, the strongest and best debut of an author since Stephen King’s “Carrie”. In short, I LOVED IT! And I am not the only one with this opinion; look at the reviews on Audible or Goodreads and you will see overwhelming adoration of not only “The Rook” as a novel but the book’s protagonist, Myfawney Thomas.
2016 brings us the sequel: Stiletto. It took awhile to get to book form but, considering the tremendous height of the bar set by “The Rook”, “Stiletto” has some huge shoes to fill so I couldn’t begrudge the extra time. I had pre-ordered the audiobook a month or more in advance and stayed up late so I could download it as soon as it was available. Yep, I am a fanboy…
I was caught off-guard immediately when not only was the book narrated by Moira Quirk (as opposed to Susan Duerdan, who narrated “The Rook”), but the book is told in first person by a young Grafter woman, Odette, and a young Checquy woman, Pawn Clemens. You have to understand that Myfawney Thomas of “The Rook” inspires such feelings of loyalty (“love” wouldn’t be too strong a word also) that it is almost heresy to not have her at the forefront of its sequel. Not only is she not at the forefront, she is barely mentioned until the second half of “Stiletto”. I see it as a huge gamble by the author, but one that I believe payed off and will ultimately provide freedom to the author in future sequels. Other reviewers will probably not agree: they will say that while “Stiletto” is good, they couldn’t get into it because Myfawney wasn’t there. This is why I felt I needed to expound on Myfawney’s overwhelming influence on the success of “The Rook”: any sequel that didn’t continue with Myfawney’s first person narrative was going to be doomed to lukewarm reviews by a significant percentage of reviewers because of her absence alone, regardless of Stiletto’s plot or the author’s skill.
A brief synopsis: “Stiletto” picks up immediately following the events of “The Rook” with the proposed incorporation of the Grafters and a Grafter delegation is in London to hammer out the terms and conditions of the Grafters joining the Checquy. The Grafters are keeping secret (or trying to) the fact that they are being systematically hunted by an unknown group. Combine this with the inbred hatred the Grafters and the Checquy are taught to feel about each other from a early age and the tension is a powder keg with a lit fuse. Stiletto is told in the first person by Odette, a young Grafter woman and the Checquy guard who is assigned as her body guard, Pawn Clemens. Through their eyes, the listener/reader gets to experience the intense hatred and mistrust that each group has for the other and to contemplate what it might take to have the two groups become one without outright civil war.
Moira Quirk delivered an outstanding performance and narration. I had noticed immediately that she was not the same narrator who performed “The Rook”, but since “Stiletto” isn’t about Myfawney Thomas, it makes sense to have a different narrator and she demonstrated skill, talent, and a remarkable amount of distinct voices and accents for the myriad of characters contained in “Stiletto”.
Bottom Line: “Stiletto” is an excellent sequel to “The Rook” if the listener/reader is able to accept it on its own merit and a continuation of the Checquy's storyline. If the audience is looking for “a part two to The Rook”, he/she is going to be disappointed. At over 23 hrs of entertainment, “Stiletto” is a welcome addition to the mythos of the Checquy and will contribute significantly to its current and future success in both plotlines and fresh characters.
On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through
I loved the Rook, and was really excited to see that a sequel had finally been published. Unfortunately, Stiletto seems to suffer from second-novel disease, and, instead of the tightly-written Rook we get a meandering book in desperate need of an editor. It takes almost 8 hours for the main characters to meet, time that is filled with details like the types of medical tests being run on a character or the exhaustive childhood backstory of every random individuals mentioned in the text. So much is clearly unnecessary, that even with the engaging characters and great reading, the book really drags at points.
It is clear that O'Malley has become enamored with the world he has built, and wants to show us every detail. Unfortunately, it is not always a particularly coherent or interesting world - there are lots of odd tonal changes (characters see their friends slaughtered, then have witty banter) and lots of details going into explaining how aspects of the world works that still seem full of logical holes. For example, O'Malley writes at great length about how operatives are taken away from their parents who are led to believe their children are dead or missing, but the adult operatives are still allowed to keep their names and mingle with the general population, with only their birthdate changed. As a result, the attempts to explain how this fantasy setting fits into our own often seem belabored. Elements of the main plots run into similar problems, as the author really wants to justify that the two main groups of the novel REALLY hate each other, in ways that aren't always believable.
That being said there is still fun to be had. The characters are interesting, and the humor is still there, even if it leans a little too heavily on randomness (people being turned into chairs, or having the power to control stoats). The reading is also really excellently done.
I really wish this novel had been cut down by at least half, because there is a good story with fun characters, if you are willing to sit through a lot of filler.
Instead of telling the story from the point of view of one character, Daniel O'Malley treats us to the points of view of two. Neither of them, by the way, is Myfanwy Thomas. The characters start out kind of feeling like cardboard cutouts, but they really develop greatly throughout the story into people I really wanted to keep up with. Many of our old favorite characters appear throughout the book, some more than others. Overall, I found the book to be very rewarding.
Moira Quirk of obviously a very good narrator. But I found myself missing the old characters as related by Susan Duerden, especially Myfanwy. Ms. Quirk's representation of Myfanwy was much more pedestrian, as if she were a secondary character who didn't need much fleshing out. She also changed voices and accents for just about every other established character. I found myself regretting this throughout the book.
But overall, a great story and well worth the credit.
Great story. As much fun as The Rook!I had a little bit of a hard time getting into this because I was disappointed their was a new narrator and because the Myfanny Thomas is the not the central character, but after I got over this I realized the changes were actually for the better! He does such a good job of telling the story of both the Grafters and the Checque, and engaging you with the characters, plus bringing in your favorite characters from the Rook. This story can last theough many more books. Great franchise! New narrator is fantastic too. Loved her accents for all the characters. Can't wait for the next one! Well done.
When I like something I'll let you know. If I don't, I'll let you know that too!
This LONG awaited sequel to The Rook is a fun, intriguing and rich story with strong female characters. Stiletto picks up a short while after the end of The Rook with the bureaucratic nightmare of attempting to merge persons with supernatural abilities, the Checquy, and those who manufacture super humans, the Grafters. The merger is especially difficult because the Grafters invaded England territory centuries earlier and were believed to have been exterminated. The Checquy hate the Grafters for attacking England and their institutional memory has made them into boogeymen. The Graters hate the Checquy for executing them centuries earlier. To further complicate the issue, a splinter group of Grafters are committed to stopping the merger and exposing the secret Checquy and their bizarre abilities. There is some repetitiveness to Stiletto to provide backstory to those who have not read The Rook. Perhaps I would not have found it repetitive had I not just re-read The Rook days before Stiletto arrived. Nonetheless, Stiletto is an enjoyable read with a sense of humor and honor that is missing from many of today's novels.
Looking forward to the next Checquy story, The Rook television series, or anything else O'Malley chooses to write.
The book follows the same theme and presentation as the Rook. However, the story drags a bit in different areas. Also, it isn't as funny as the previous book. The narrator is great with various accents (only occasionally slipping up).
An engaging fun read but not as fun as the first in the series. Excellent writing and great narration. Loved a lot of the new characters but would have loved to see more of Rook Thomas.
Meh. I like the setting, but the story is meandering and boring, and the behavior of the characters and the secret organizations they represent is nonsensical. The prose is filled with half-considered half-jokes, sort of like Douglas Adams, but distracting and not funny. The narrator gives too much attention and punch to the throwaway lines, and as a result they are more intrusive than they would be while reading paper or with a different narrator. I didn't like it enough to finish.
if you're looking for the sequel to The Rook, this isn't it. it is interesting. and it is set in the same world, but Myfawny Thomas is virtually absent from the book. Daniel O'Malley's writing is wonderfully the same as ever but I just couldn't get into the story, even after several chapters. here's hoping the next one includes more of the characters we fell in love with the first time around.
great narrator. voices are distinguishable, recognizable, and animated.
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