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The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

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The Rook by Daniel O’Malley The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
Narrator: Susan Duerden
Series: The Checquy Files #1
Published by Hachette Audio on March 1, 2012
Source: Purchased
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
Length: 17 hrs, 51 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Myfanwy Thomas awakes in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, her only hope of survival is to trust the instructions left in her pocket by her former self. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization - and this person wants her dead.

As Myfanwy battles to save herself, she encounters a person with four bodies, a woman who can enter her dreams, children transformed into deadly fighters, and an unimaginably vast conspiracy.

Loved this book! Granted it’s not perfect – there’s a fair amount of info-dumping made palatable by the whole amnesia bit. It’s kind of a paranormal, sci-fi-ish spy thriller, with a dollop or two of humor.

As the blurb says, Myfanwy wakes up with no memory  surrounded by dead bodies. She is guided back into her life as one of the heads of a secret paranormal agency by letters she wrote to herself, having known she would lose her memory thanks to the warnings of a variety of psychics, including a duck. So she fakes her way, but also discovers she has an AWESOME power that the old her barely made use of. She’s a character to root for, the underdog due to her amnesia and that people underestimate her and never truly respected the old her. Oh and she’s facing an enemy who has been waiting for revenge on England for centuries and has all kinds of yucky, nasty and dangerous things/people/fungi at their command.

The agency is full of inter-office politics, jockeying for position/power, uncomfortable Christmas parties.Oh, and someone she works with probably wants her dead, or at least out of the way, but the old Myfanwy never figured out who, so the new Myfanwy can’t be sure who to trust. Some of the supporting characters could use a little more development,but with such a large cast, that’s probably to be expected.

The plot moved quickly, except for when the letters bogged it down. I personally enjoyed the format, but I could see where it might annoy some people. I listened to the audio and really enjoyed the narrator’s reading. She nailed Myfanwy’s new personality for me, especially the sarcastic and amusing comments.

The mystery of who stole Myfanwy’s memory and why was well-done. I was surprised, but the whodunnit made sense given the clues. I’m looking forward to listening to the second in the series.

About Daniel O’Malley

Dan 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.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Master by Claire North

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The Master by Claire North The Master by Claire North
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Series: The Gameshouse #3
Published by Hachette Audio on November 3, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
Length: 3 hrs 52 mins
Format: Audiobook
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The Gameshouse is an unusual institution.

Many know it as the place where fortunes can be made and lost though games of chess, backgammon - every game under the sun.

But a select few, who are picked to compete in the higher league, know that some games are played for higher stakes - those of politics and empires, of economics and kings . . .

And now, the ultimate player is about to step forward.

Ah – the last of the trilogy. I’m sad to see it end. Honestly – read it. If you enjoy fantasy or games or just thrillers for that matter, this is a great set of novellas. In this last one, we even have a love story of sorts.

This time around the game is chess and our narrator has become one of the players, a player in the Great Game – the game for control of the Gameshouse. His name is Silver and he’s been working toward this moment for ages. He’s a King in the game, of course, and has gathered forces that he can deploy. His opponent has her own resources, possibly more powerful than his.

This one had even more action than the last two. Chess is a dangerous game, but it also has more meaning – for the world as a whole and for Silver personally.

My one complaint had to do with a part near the end. Silver became a little too melodramatic for me.

I don’t what else I can really say that I haven’t said in my reviews for The Serpent and The Thief. I love the use of language, of descriptions. Some of the characters are fully-developed, some are left a bit mysterious, which fits the mood of the novellas.

I am definitely glad I discovered Claire North. I’ve already started her newest novel.

About Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

The Thief by Claire North

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The Thief by Claire North The Thief by Claire North
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Series: The Gameshouse #2
Published by Hachette Audio on November 3, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Length: 3 hrs 41 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

The Gameshouse is an unusual institution.

Many know it as the place where fortunes can be made and lost through games of chess, backgammon - every game under the sun.
But a select few, who are picked to compete in the higher league, know that some games are played for higher stakes - those of politics and empires, of economics and kings . . .

In 1930s Bangkok, one higher league player has just been challenged to a game of hide and seek. The board is all of Thailand - and the seeker may use any means possible to hunt down his quarry - be it police, government, strangers or even spies . . .

I’m not a fan of playing hide-and-seek. When I was a kid, I was always afraid everyone else would go inside or to another kid’s house and just leave me hiding. I don’t think it ever actually happened, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t worry about it. And it was even worse if it was dark.

The hide-and-seek game in The Thief is awesome though. The “board” is Thailand in the 1930s and the stakes are huge, but the game might be unfairly weighted. This is the second in the trilogy and I think they should definitely be read, or listened to, in order. Thene’s game in The Serpent was not exactly fair either, but that was nothing in comparison to the disadvantages our player is dealing with here. It’s a thread thoughout – the Gameshouse may not be as fair as it (she) would like you to believe.

Once again, North does  wonderful job building her world. Thailand in the 30s is not a place I’m familiar with but I love how she made us feel like we were there. Once again, the story is narrated by an unseen watcher who takes us with him to observe the game being played, which makes it a natural fit for audio. Remy Burke is the first to hide. He agreed to the game when he was drunk, and is a half-English half-French six foot tall white man with little money trying to hide in Thailand – he stands out. But he’s an experienced player and knows that not only is it a game about hiding, it’s also about finding the other player when the sides switch.

This one definitely sets up the third. I even like the three novella set up . Each is a self-contained game, but they need to be read in order to get the full feel of the series.

About Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

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