After two attempts to read 'The Rook' I have finally admitted defeat and consigned it to the archive on my Kindle. I am very glad I picked it up for less than a quid.
It takes a lot for me to not finish a book, but The Rook pushed me past the point where I'd had enough very quickly. Whilst the initial set-up of a woman coming-to after a fight with no recollection of who she was and finding letters from her pre-amnesiac-self waiting to guide her through the hidden fantastical world she inhabits was a clever one, the execution was just dire.
Whilst the concept of the letters left for the amnesiac sounds promising, Daniel O'Malley's execution of the idea is terrible. He uses them to provide chunks of leaden exposition to introduce both his heroine and the reader to the hidden world they're encountering. This sounds helpful in principle but in reality comes across as lazy and unimaginative. If a fantasy author doesn't have the skill to introduce the world he's created naturally within the flow of the narrative then he's working in the wrong genre.
Add the fact that purely to satisfy O'Malley's chosen narrative structure the heroine is forced to make the utterly illogical decision not read all the letters or the file she left herself before plunging in her 'new' world but rather read them in drips and drabs as she encounters people and places, and The Rook is floundering within the first fifty pages.
Matters might have been rescued had O'Malley injected the narrative with any of the following; drive, wonder, atmosphere or action, but he offers none of them. The story is flat and un-involving, with even the insertion of a brief (and utterly implausible) fight scene failing to generate any excitement. Combined with the constant stopping-and-starting as another piece of exposition is delivered, and The Rook is a book that I found it also impossible to engage with.
Finally, when I realised that despite having set the book in the UK Daniel O'Malley had no real grasp for British geography, society, culture or history I decided to cut my losses and bail out on The Rook. It would be unfair to award it one star as I didn't make it past page 100 and it might slowly develop into a brilliant book later on (I doubt it but you never know) but based on what I did read this is one to avoid.
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