Hardcover, 583 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Little, Brown, and Company
Source: ARC from Publisher
In this spirited sequel, The Rook returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic—and slimy—supernatural war.
When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers—and the bureaucratic finesse—to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:
The Checquy—the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural
The Grafters—a centuries-old supernatural threat.
But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women, who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.
STILETTO is a novel of preternatural diplomacy, paranoia, and snide remarks.
Whoever writes the synopses for the Chequy books gets my vote because how delightful is that last line?
Okay, back to regular programming or an attempt at anyway. I am fasting so this review might be a little bit peculiar (wholly dependent on the vagaries of my empty stomach) but I am pleased to report that Stiletto is just as fun as The Rook which I reviewed not very long ago.
Mafynwy Thomas remains a character in this novel though she is not by any means a central character. In fact, I feel like her role is to get injured because the number of times the woman is made too aware of her mortality is rather astounding. So as the synopsis reveals, Stiletto focuses on the unbelievable merger of The Grafters into the Chequy. The two groups have a bloody history and bad blood on both sides ensures that the merger is not going to be a peaceful one.
I found it supremely interesting that O’Malley takes considerable time and care to investigate the perpetuation of this bad blood because the war between the groups took place more than a century ago. The members of the Chequy and the Grafters though being removed a couple of generations from the people who participated in the war (and often died) have deeply entrenched grudges against each other. The Grafters consider the Chequy members with their supernatural powers unnatural and going against God while the Chequy considers the Grafters who use science to amplify and supplement their bodies in fantastic ways to be…uh…unnatural and going against God. The war that pitted the Chequy against the Grafters was organized by a Belgian noble who knew little of what he was doing when he sent the Grafters to fight with the Chequy.
Anyway, that’s all water under the bridge as far as Mafynwy and the Grafter leader are concerned. The Grafters send a group consisting of highly placed individuals including their leader (who was actually already present in the first book in a very unique form) and his granddaughter (throw in a great or two in there), Odette. They are present in London to iron out the details of their merger and to acclimatize the Chequy to the more bizarre effects of the Grafters (changing one’s face at will or emitting pheromones when necessary being two of them).
Odette is paired with Felicity who recently lost all her team members to a giant monster in a suburb. Ostensibly Felicity is there to guard Odette from the more hostile members of the Chequy but in truth she has another purpose. At Mafynwy’s behest, she’s also there to spy on Odette and if necessary kill her. Things become even more dire with the appearance of a Grafter group who think the merger is a bad idea and who will do anything (even kill innocents) to stop it from happening.
With his signature wit and wonderfully wry prose, O’Malley tells the tale of two women (Odette and Felicity) who don’t exactly like each other but who work together anyway because the alternative is war. As I have come to expect from O’Malley, his characters are deeply complex and the permutations of his plot are often on the unpredictable side. Readers are treated to an expansion of the Chequy world both in their politics and in geography. And of course the wonderfully droll dialogue. Bureaucracy pops up in the oddest of places (while trying to save a bunch of villagers from zombies for example) and the importance of diplomacy when dealing with people who turn to wolves in certain situations
I also loved the diversity in the cast of characters. I do hope there are more Chequy books planned because it would be a shame to let a world and narrative so rich in potential just go.
Oh I don’t know if I shared this in the earlier review but the series has been picked up for a TV show by Stephenie Meyer’s company so…it should be coming to a TV near you sometime in the future. I am looking forward to it that’s for sure.
“With the sort of power these new processes granted them, the members of the brotherhood were in the perfect position to seize power. In any other country, a massive, bloody war would have ensued. Horrors would have stalked the land, unholy amalgamations of flesh would have fought on the fields, and the nights would have new, unspeakable terrors.
Fortunately, this is Belgium we’re talking about.”
― Daniel O’Malley, The Rook