Friday, February 01, 2013

More Cold Reading

I never did get my nap yesterday, but I made up for it by sleeping ridiculously late this morning. I resorted to the prescription cough syrup to get a good night's sleep, and it did stop the coughing. But that meant it took a really long time to get going this morning. Fortunately, I've taken care of my key business for the morning. I just need to restock on tea. Well, one kind of tea. I have plenty of other tea. Plus, I have a new tea cozy. I needed to think, so I did some knitting. I don't knit well -- just squares or rectangles. I've made a few scarves, I made a cozy for my phone (and it worked, too. Once my purse tipped over and spilled everything onto the pavement, and my phone came through unscathed), and now I've made a cozy for my second teapot that I use for flavored teas. My thermos keeps my regular tea hot, but I don't want to put flavored teas into it, and my secondary teapot is smaller, so I just need to keep the second cup warm. I'm looking forward to putting the cozy to the test. And I may put off the tea run to next week when it's warmer. I think I can survive on what I have.

One good thing about this nasty cold (the final, annoying stages are lingering, when I'm not really sick but not 100 percent) is that it's given me time to read, since I don't much feel like doing anything else. I've made it through my first huge stack from the library with The Rook by Daniel O'Malley. I'll be getting the paperback of this one to keep because it needs to be re-read. It's one of those books that will change once you know what's really going on. Plus, it's a lot like Terry Pratchett's books, where you need to read them at least twice, once to get the story and then more times to catch all the jokes woven into the narration.

I'd describe this one as The X-Men meets Men in Black meets The Bourne Identity, with a dash of Haven, as written by Terry Pratchett after a Lovecraft binge. It's about a woman who opens her eyes to find herself in a field, surrounded by dead bodies, with no idea who she is or how she got there. She finds a letter in her pocket telling her that if she's reading this, then she's been erased. It tells her who she is, that there's someone out to get her, and gives her instructions for what to do next. It turns out that she's a high-ranking bureaucrat in a secret organization of people with supernatural abilities who deal with supernatural events. She discovered a traitor in their midst, which got her memory erased. But she had warning of what would happen to her, so she dealt with her impending fate by documenting everything and leaving all the information she could for her future self to follow. Now this woman who has no memory of this has to step into her shoes and try to pretend to be herself to track down the traitor, since her former self had only figured out the fact of a traitor and what he/she was doing, but didn't learn the identity until just before being erased. The story goes back and forth between the present day and her past self's letters to her future self, documenting things that are happening to her and saying what she really thinks about the people in her life. One thing her enemies didn't count on is that her past self was apparently really timid and uncomfortable with using her powers, but once all her emotional baggage from childhood is removed in the memory wipe, they're dealing with someone else entirely.

This is a real page-turner. I put off a number of TV shows, deciding to watch OnDemand later because I wanted to finish reading this book. It's delightfully quirky, a little gross (I did mention Lovecraft), and laugh-out-loud funny in places, but it's also surprisingly poignant when it really brings home what it would be like to know that you may not physically die but that you will soon cease to exist. I suspect it will be even funnier on a re-read because, as I mentioned, most of the jokes are just woven into the narrative as a turn of phrase or a way of describing someone or something. And there's a big dose of British whimsy (though the author is Australian).

This is the kind of thing I was hoping for more of when they first started talking about "urban fantasy" in publishing. It's got that real world vs. magical world clash, all while dealing with supernatural stuff in a familiar bureaucratic setting. It's a bit more violent than my books, but I think it might appeal to fans of my series who like that magical workplace stuff.

1 comment:

Angie said...

I picked this up from the library on your recommendation. I couldn't put it down! I just loved Myfanwy and I was compelled to keep reading and find out how she navigated a life that she didn't remember. I thought the Checquy was interesting but the most engaging part of the book was Myfanwy and her growth.