Friday, October 26, 2012

On Her Majesty's Supernatural Secret Service

That's actually the subtitle of the book.  The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley, has been keeping me company while I waited for my new Kindle, and believe  it or not I haven't read an electronic word in the two days since Grimm came in the mail.  I'm having too much fun here.

It took me a little while to get the hang of it, I'll admit.  The complicated plot isn't hard to follow, but I had a lot of trouble catching my stride with the tone.  There's real danger, there's wry humor, and there are funny names.  I kept trying to figure out if we were talking Terry Pratchett, Tom Clancy, or Monty Python.  I eventually got the hang of it, but it's only today that I found the analogy I was looking for--it's James Bond.  If James Bond was fighting supernatural manifestations instead of all diamond thieves and international masterminds, this would be the book.  It's over the top and melodramatic, with plenty of humor thrown in.  The plot works straight, but the reason you love it are the fun bits.

The reason I didn't go straight to Bond is because the main character is a paper pusher.  There's a lot of wonderful dry humor about administration, red tape, and standard operating procedure.  And, as I said, there's a lot going on--Myfanwy Thomas has lost her memory.  She wakes up one day and finds herself an elite executive at a national agency that handles supernatural threats in Great Britain.  She has no idea who she is or what is going on--her only clues are the notes she left herself, knowing the memory loss was coming, warning her of a traitor in her agency.

There's the whole traitor plot, which is actually quite the nail-biter. A lot of the fun, though, comes from just trying to navigate day to day operations at an office where you've never been, but everyone knows you.  And of course, there are the standard threats to the nation from sentient purple fungi and ancient Belgian brotherhoods.  Plus, while all this is going on, you get the letters from the old Myfanwy, telling about her life and how she ended up where she is.

It's complicated enough, but it's not as complicated as you might fear.  There are good guys and bad guys, and even before we know exactly who's who, we have a good instinct for where folks are going to fall.  I'm not done or anything, but it doesn't seem to be a story with a big twist at the end.  Myfanwy's just so down to earth, I'm having fun with her.

This is not a compelling review.  Somehow I'm not feeling very articulate today.  Still and all, I'm having a blast with this book--highly recommended.


Brenda Pike said...

Not at all about this book, but a general comment: I want a search box. I'm trying to figure out if you've read The Diviners by Libbie Bray yet. If not, do.

LibraryHungry said...

1) There is a search box at the very top of the blogger page that searches my blog, and
2) No, I haven't, but I believe you and will.

Aarti said...

Ooh, you had me at the subtitle of this book! Sounds just like something I would enjoy.