The Rook by Daniel O’Malley is hands-down the best urban fantasy that I have read in the past couple of years. I don’t know why, but it seems like urban fantasy set in London has a higher-than-average chance of being fantastic. The Rook is right up there with Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere for me when it comes to inventive supernatural craziness going down in England.
The story centers around Myfanwy Thomas (pronounced like “Tiffany”) who wakes up in the rain with no memory, surrounded by dead people wearing latex gloves, and a letter in her pocket telling her that “the body you are wearing used to be mine.”
If that isn’t enough to get you to start reading the book, I don’t know what is. The book’s fascinating premise is its own best sales pitch.
Myfanwy discovers that she holds the position of Rook in the British secret government organization known as the Chequy (all the upper positions are named after chess pieces), and that the previous Myfanwy Thomas was betrayed by person or person’s unknown within the organization. The book is about two thirds her trying to figure out the organization, her own unique powers, and deal with the metric ton of problems that crop up on her watch and one third the letters and correspondence from the previous Myfanwy which serve as excellent world-building (and a fairly heart-wrenching look at her body’s previous owner’s life and thoughts).
I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
The plot summary contains spoilers! Show it anyway.