Sunday, 23 March 2014
Daniel O'Malley is a Canberran author. I somehow, and am still not sure how, managed to score a copy off his Mum (who I actually don't know). But now that disclosure is out of the way, in case I wasn't clear before, this is an absolutely fantastic book.
The Rook is an urban fantasy set in London. We start the book meeting Myfanwy (pronounced Miffany by the way, not Mif-fan-way) Thomas, the protagonist, in a park, in the rain, surrounded by a whole heap of dead guys, wearing gloves. Oh, and she can't remember who she is. In terms of beginnings, not a bad one. We go on to find that Myfanwy knew this was going to happen and has left new Myfanwy lots of info in the form of letters and folders to help her along, and make a choice about her new, inherited life.
This sounds like it could be a terrible way of disclosing information to the reader. But it's not. It's bloody well executed. We find out the lore and background to this urban fantasy and the characters as we need it, in an unjarring way. It bombards you with the info you need in an accessible and believable way. *THIS* is something incredibly hard to do, and honestly a lot of fantasy and sci fi fails at. The amount of times I have tuned out the 3 chapters of mind numbingly boring history of a world in fantasy or sci fi.
That's one element of the cleverness. Another is the world. It is well thought out, plausible, and just fun. I mean, supernatural powers, secret service, tied up in history. What's not to love? But on top of this, the world building is fantastic, and actually rather unique. And that is possibly the highest compliment that one could give an urban fantasy these days.
The most important for me, is this book is fricking hilarious. It is rare that a book in this genre is able to poke so much fun at itself, and everything around it. The humour is just leaking out of it. Whether it is his Australian command of a metaphor or a simile (there is a metaphor or a simile for everything if you try), or his poking fun of Americans (love you all, but some of his lines made me snort beverages out my nose) or any other nationality, or just sarcastic observations in general, the guy is funny.
And it all just made the book a pleasure to read. Action, intrigue and funny. This is my point about the Neil Gaiman and Jasper Fforde Aussie love child. He takes the elements that I love of both authors; world building, story, action, intrigue, and wit. And puts an Aussie spin on it that you would only notice if you are paying attention.
So I know I may be a bit behind the times, but read the book. I applaud and take my hat off to him. I know he is writing a sequel at the moment, and I hope it lives up to the first book. I'll just be watching jealously in the meantime as you all read this one for the first time.