I've joined Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge again. This is my first book in The Journey: "This is really as simple as the name implies. It means you are participating, but not committing yourself to any specific number of books." There are several ways to participate, so if you are interested, click on Carl's link and check it out.
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley is the first in the Cheque Files series, a kind of British Ghost Busters.
From the description: "The body you are wearing used to be mine." So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.
It was that description on the book jacket that made me slip the novel into my library bag.
What I liked: From the first page, the book captivated me, and I admit that it was a page turner extraordinaire; I truly had difficulty putting it aside to take care of all the mundane elements of life. So...good thing my husband was satisfied with sandwiches.
A secret government organization battles supernatural threats in the UK, and Myfanwy Thomas is a high-ranking member of the agency, although mostly concerned with administration and finance as she is very shy, not particularly courageous, and reluctant to use or develop her powers. Members of the Chequy have titles associated with chess; there are bishops, rooks, chevaliers, and pawns. Myfanwy's opposite rook takes care of the action while she brilliantly handles the paperwork.
I liked that the original Myfanwy was a dedicated, but introverted character so that when she discovers the nature of the threat against her (her memories will be expunged--definitely a kind of death), she must battle her natural inclinations in order to prepare the way for the next Myfanwy. I also liked that the second Myfanwy (who awakes to the startling realization that she has no personal history that she is aware of) must depend on the letters the original Myfanwy wrote to clue her in and keep her safe.
The second Myfanwy learns that in order to keep herself and the agency secure from the predations of an enemy organization, she must discover the traitor within. Someone wanted Myfanwy out of the way. What had Myfanwy stumbled on that revealed a traitor and a threat to the organization?
The second Myfanywy is forced to try to fulfill her "new" role by using the letters and information left by the first. She attempts to uncover the conspiracy and to decide which of her colleagues wanted her out of the way. Her personality is different, picking up on the latent courage of the first. The second Myfanwy is more outgoing, more daring, and much more inclined to use her powers.
What I liked less: I really think the author was having too much fun with his story and that the editor must have picked up on it and refused to cut more extensively. This is a personal feeling, and I think it is wonderful that the author loves what he is writing. However, while I was captivated by the mystery and the suspense, I was less interested in a couple of the battles--they were too long. Here is where I think the author was indulging himself a bit with too lengthy descriptions of these weird, supernatural battles. But hey, for others that might be the highlight of the book. For me, they slowed down the action I was really interested in and believe that a little excision would have helped the pace.
:) Some parts are just ridiculous (the duck), some parts suspenseful--overall a fun fantasy ride!
The next installment is Stiletto. Hope my library gets a copy. It is due out in June.
Supernatural Fantasy. 2012. 504 pages.