by Sharon Cameron
Rating: 4/5 stars
Rook is a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, a story published in 1905 and set during the time of the French Revolution. I had not heard of the original story until I came across Rook, but apparently it is the first story ever written about a masked vigilante. Basically, the original Batman or Zorro.
Rook takes place in a future Paris, where technology has failed mankind and people are reduced to a lifestyle that would have been common during the early 19th century. In fact, the new government that is in charge, expressly forbids anyone from using any type of technology from our current times. A large part of this novel focuses on the theme of history repeating itself, so just like the French Revolution, the government gives the general public someone to blame for their current destitution and appeases them with very public executions of the wealthy. Regardless, of whether the current state of affairs is their fault or not.
This is where the Rook comes into play. The Rook is a vigilante who frees prisoners just before their execution and nobody knows who he/she is because all that is left behind is a single red tipped feather of the Rook.
It is revealed early on that the Rook is a wealthy young woman, named Sophia, who must conceal her identity, while also trying to save her family’s home from being seized for debts by marrying a foppish Parisian who she cannot stand. While the law slowly closes in on her and her fiancee begins questioning her bizarre behavior, Sophia must make sacrifices to protect those she is closest to and use precise judgement to determine who can be trusted with her secret.
Review: This novel had so many plot twists and so much going on that I was thoroughly entertained throughout the entire story. Cameron works hard to make all the characters’ actions and motives known without overwhelming the reader too much. I was really impressed with her ability to keep enough hidden from the reader to continue to make them question how the book was going to resolve while also giving us enough background information so we weren’t bogged down in confusion. All of the characters had a specific end goal in mind and were driven by a wide variety of motives that helped diversify all the players. This, with an interesting premise and setting made Rook a fantastic dystopian read, that was really different than any other book I have read recently in this genre.