Saturday, April 14, 2012

"The Rook"

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.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his debut novel The Rook, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Rook is the first page of Chapter Six, and much to my chagrin, it really is not the best representative of the book. In fact, when it came time for me to look at the page for this blog, it had me tearing my hair out in frustration. Page 69 is a pleasant little page (it’s just my luck that so much of it would be taken up by the chapter heading), but it is conspicuously lacking in most of the key elements of the book.

What page 69 does convey is an air of the slightly odd. We are shown an organization, the Checquy, that is not at all standard-issue. A group is meeting in a luxuriously appointed room with a lavish buffet, there are strange customs, and for some reason, several of the people are dressed in purple. The main character, Rook Myfanwy Thomas (‘Rook’ is apparently her title), is taking all of this in, and she is approached by a large man of obnoxious demeanor.

Whereupon, we smash cut to page 70.

The problem is what’s not explained on page 69. These people in the lavishly appointed room are there to witness an interrogation. The Checquy is a secret government agency that polices (and is staffed by) the supernatural. Rook Myfanwy Thomas has amnesia. And she can control people with her mind. Plus, there’s hardly any snide humour.


To make matters worse, on the next page our heroine smacks down a bully and we meet the third body from a hive-mind of four creepy siblings. All of which would be much more intriguing to the casual reader.

All of this has left me resolved to make sure that the sixty-ninth page of the sequel is far more interesting.
Learn more about the book and author at Daniel O'Malley's website and blog.

Writers Read: Daniel O'Malley.

--Marshal Zeringue