The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, Review: Sci-fi adventure with heart

Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook is an outlandish sci-fi adventure story with a healthy dose of heart and humour. Highly recommended in audio. Read our full review.

The Rook Synopsis:

The Rook Daniel O'Malley“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. She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Checquy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain.

She also discovers that she possesses a rare and deadly supernatural ability of her own. Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, The Rook is a richly inventive, suspenseful fantasy. An astonishing debut from a brilliant new voice.

Genre: Action-Adventure, Sci-Fi-Fantasy, YA, Mystery, Thriller, Audio, Humour

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post we may earn a small commission to help offset our running costs.


The Rook, the debut novel from Australian author Daniel O’Malley has it all.

A stunning opening that hooks you from the very first minute.

The body you are wearing used to be mine.

An elaborate cast of characters to learn all about. Quintessential villains and loyal allies are aplenty, but the question of who can really be trusted is ever-present.

A protagonist (or two) that you cannot help to barrack for. Myfanwy Thomas is as feisty and sarcastic as they come and this gives rise to some wonderful laugh out loud opinionated rants. Her dry wit could cut through ice, but she has a softer side too. She’s clumsy and gets herself in no end of life-threatening scrapes, but her admirable never-say-die attitude always comes to the fore.

And, some of the most entertaining scenes in The Rook involve Thomas’ matter-of-fact response to outlandish situations. O’Malley has created the perfect melding of comedic farce with thrilling edge-of-your-seat suspense – science fiction with spoof touches. What I appreciated most about this novel was that the plotting was sufficiently complex to keep me engrossed but at the same time it projected an air of understatement – it did not take itself too seriously.

Gone are the days when science fiction was only for geeks. In The Rook Daniel O’Malley has created very accessible science fiction; something that will appeal to a broad audience – everyone from young adults to the more intellectual reader, male and female. For that reason, it comes as no surprise to me that it was recently named ‘Best Science Fiction Novel’ in the 2012 Aurealis Awards.

The Rook Daniel O'MalleyAudiobook narration

The Rook was a fabulous title for audio, both because of its first-person narrative framework and a strong performance by British actress Katy Carmichael who really brought the quirky Thomas character(s) to life.

I was thoroughly entertained by this sci-fi adventure story with a healthy dose of heart and humour, and am looking forward to reading more of what this author’s mind conjures up.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5

Get your copy of The Rook from:

Amazon Book Depository Booktopia (AU)
OR listen to the audiobook FREE with Audible’s Trial (check eligibility)

UPDATE: Book 2, Stiletto has since been released!

This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge.

Related Reads:
Resistance Is Futile by Jenny Colgan /  Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams  /  Marking Time by April White  /  Beyond Belief by Helen Smith

About the Author, Daniel O’Malley

Daniel O’Malley graduated from Michigan State University and earned a Master’s Degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He then returned to his childhood home, Australia. He now works for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, writing press releases for government investigations of plane crashes and runaway boats. Check out Daniel’s website The Rook Files.