8 February 2013

Do You Believe in Magic: A Review of The Rook, Daniel O'Malley

Have you ever experienced a moment in time that you know will result in something brilliant coming your way?  Such was my foresight in purchasing The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley as a Christmas gift not only anticipating that the receiver would love it but that it would soon be in my hand to read.  And as all good things come full circle, here I sit with this very said book unable to put the dam thing down.  I most likely didn't need to swear but Holy Shit Balls people this book is redonkulous and by redonkulous I mean amazing.  A year of blogging has really honed my writing, don't you think?



Yes, The Rook, where to begin but with a little confession.  Magic is my thing, so are superheroes, sarcasm, and witty, quirky female protagonists.  So not surprisingly I fell pretty hard and am finding myself having to leave the book on another floor in my house to ensure that I go to bed instead of reading it through to the morning light.  Which is something I have never done.  I willingly will sacrifice my daily interactions with humanity for a book but will not jeopardize a full night's sleep.  Even more so now that there is a three-year-old in the house who likes to request to watch "Super Friends" (here is over 2 hrs worth) at 4 in the morning with him.   Much to his surprise, his Mommy has never said, sure, 4 in the morning is the best time to sit back and watch the Super Friends kick some Legion of Doom ass.  (see how quirky and witty I am)

The book opens to carnage.  Latex gloved bodies are strewn all over a London park with the witty, quirky protagonist Myfanwy Thomas standing amongst it all, bewildered to not only what has transpired but to whom she is.  And from that dramatic launching point, you are drawn into a world not unlike our own, just with more fantastical elements on display.  An X-File junky back in the day, the old mantra "I want to believe" is as much a part of me as The Force is to Luke Skywalker.  (Honestly, I have no idea).   And so it does not take me long to want to accept a world filled with secret agents from a supernatural government department mandated to save us all from the nightmares we "normals" can barely comprehend.  

Reminiscent of the Harry Potter world that J.K. Rowling deftly spun, O'Malley easily meshes the world of today with the world of magic. It is easier to believe the unbelievable if everything else described is grounded in present day.   Where things take a turn is while Hogwarts's magic is PG, the magic and subsequent horrors found in the The Rook are resoundingly adult.  I just gorged on a descriptive side-story of the hatching of a dragon egg.  Words that come to mind is monstrously gory.   It was a wonderfully, delightful way to start my day.  

As I plow through the pages at an alarming speed, I know I will be returning to it again and again.   A lover of minutiae, this book is rammed with oddities to spark my imagination.   Superpowers range from the ability to fly , to the obscure:  through touch one gifted boy causes colour blindness.  Of all the characters it is Gestalt,  quadruplets sharing one mind that highlight the creativity of O'Malley.  This is a character driven novel, filled with quirks, humour and horrors.  Your skin will crawl while tears of laughter roll down your cheeks.