5-star quick review: Rook (Sharon Cameron)

rookTwo thumbs WAY up for this exciting YA adventure. I had planned to go to bed early last night and then was up all night wanting to see what was going to happen next. Two hours of sleep for the win!

Rook is a re-imagining of sorts (“retelling” doesn’t fit in this case, Cameron herself describes it as an “homage” in her Author’s Note) of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” which is one of those fabulous classic stories that does not get nearly enough attention. In this case, the dashing hero rescuing the innocent from the Parisian guillotine is a British “Commonwealth” woman with the strength and strategy to do what the men in her family can’t: defy authority and bring hope to a mob-ruled nation. This alone would have made me really enjoy this book, but the setting is amazing: a post-Apocalyptic Paris where remnants of “The Ancients” are everywhere in precious, valuable plastic waste (one of my favorite moments is when a plastic soda bottle is revealed as worth thousands) and crumbling concrete and steel buildings. In this setting, Fate and the wheel of time are almost secondary characters, allowing many of the beats of the original Scarlet Pimpernel story to have an inevitability of destiny, while also allowing for enough subversion of the original story (there are definitely some problematic gender elements in the original story, for all that it was written in 1905 by a woman, Baroness Emma Orczy), for every moment to feel fresh and unexpected. Great characters, fascinating world, enormous stakes. Very fun read. Fly forth on blood-tipped wings and read it now. 🙂

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