Welcome to the Maribyrnong Library Book Club

Love to read? Love sharing your ideas about books and writing? Then you've come to the right place.

This blog is an extension of our book groups which we welcome you to attend on the first Tuesday of each month.

Contact Maureen on 9688 0290 for more information.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Rook – Daniel O’Malley

“Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine.”  Thus begins The Rook, Daniel O’Malley’s first novel.  The story’s protagonist, Myfanwy Thomas, is a highly placed manager in a secret government organization called the Checquy; an organisation run by and concerned with the affairs of the supernatural in Britain.  She also has amnesia.
Her old personality has been wiped, and a new version of herself has just awoken in the rain surrounded by bodies wearing latex gloves.  I’m fairly wary of stories that use amnesia as a plot device, it’s sometimes used to artificially inject some mystery/suspense into a story, but here it’s done well.  In fact, despite the fact that she has amnesia, it doesn’t follow the usual narrative associated with amnesia.  This is partly because her old self isn’t really gone.  In fact, almost half the book is taken up with letters from her old self.  Letters she wrote to her future self, because she knew she was going to lose her memory.  She knows that while her body will survive, her personality will die.

And this is where the story shines.  Sure, there are weird and wonderful supernatural characters and events, imaginative action scenes, cunning detective work and humorous observations aplenty, but it’s the differences between the old and new versions of Myfanwy that I found the most interesting.  They’re quite different characters, both have the same nature and the same supernatural abilities, but where post-amnesia Myfanwy is a blank slate in terms of nurture, everything about pre-amnesia Myfanwy is affected by her life to that point.  It’s a credit to Daniel O’Malley that he manages to pull this distinction off in a believable and compelling way.

Michael L.

No comments:

Post a Comment