PUBLICATION DATE: OCTOBER 16, 2012
t first glance, The Rook promises to be that little-known debut thriller that turns out to be so unexpectedly good recommending it will make you the star of any reading group. Unfortunately, it doesn’t deliver.
Old theme, fresh twist: it’s a superhero thriller with a touch of the eccentric and humorous. It begins with a person waking up to find she’s an amnesiac, and in danger. Her only hope for survival is a series of self-addressed letters written by her previous self.
Myfawny Thomas tries to discover her identity, and her killer’s, while trying to survive. Through previous arrangements and detailed instructions left behind by her apparently very efficient former self, Myfawny discovers she is a high-ranking official of a top secret British operative. Think James Bond with superpowers: this operative’s mission impossible is defeating evil through supernatural abilities combined with diplomatic skills. And Myfawny realizes she possesses great talent in both. Can she re-learn to wield them before her killer pulls off a world-ending nightmare?
What starts off as a fantastic escape from reality soon turns into a chore. I wanted to be fair so I trudged through the whole book, hoping it would pick up, but it didn’t.
The book struggled to create and sustain Myfawny’s world. For one, the writing is juvenile. There’s a distinct effort to portray a sleek, powerful underground British operative, but it fails. For another, the dialog runs long, too long, with sad attempts at British dry wit. Halfway through, the British characters are speaking American jargon, like Hollywood actors who can’t seem to affect the right accent to suspend disbelief.
It also feels like the author played the supernatural angle too hard. There were far too many gratuitous descriptions that didn’t really move the story forward. The book could’ve done with fewer scenes of inconsequential characters whose only purpose was to be disgusting or odd.
Disappointingly, the conclusion comes in a rush of revelations, most of which are a stretch of the imagination, to say the least. Lengthy dialog makes up for poor storytelling, and heroes and villains pour their hearts out in one encounter to reveal motives and back stories.
If there’s one thing I liked about The Rook, it’s this: the premise was certainly fresh. I like the idea of a bunch of Mission Impossible agents with superpowers, battling the bad, bad underworld before it crept out into the open, at the same time dealing with government, mass media, and the unknowing public. It’s a great fantasy world to cook up, but one that might have been too much for this author to bring to completion.