This is a book I’ve been waiting literally years for, my favourite book of the last few years might well have been The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, and after that the sequel Stiletto.

Blitz is the third of the Rook files book and was released last year. I had to buy it from Amazon as I’m still not sure if it’s been properly released in the UK as the hardback is ridiculously priced. It is a bigger book (688 pages) than the previous 2, though that’s not an excuse for it taking 6 years in my opinion. So the big question was it worth the wait?

Well to start with unlike previous books this is 2 stories, one set in World War 2, hence the title and one set in modern times. Like Stiletto ahead of it, despite these books being set in the same universe, the character don’t carry through the books as main characters, though the characters from the previous books do appear, they’re more like extended cameo’s.

Daniel O’Malley, an Australian, does a good job of setting his book in the UK and unlike the previous books there’s no Americanisms sneaking in as UK phrases – there was a reference in a previous book to rowhouses, which we had to look up – in the UK we’d call them terraced housing. None of that this time and the story barrels along.

September, 1940. Three women of the Checquy, the secret organization tasked with protecting Britain from supernatural threats, stand in the sky above London and see German aircraft approach. Forbidden by law to interfere, all they can do is watch as their city is bombed. Until Pamela, the most sensible of them, breaks all the rules and brings down a Nazi bomber with her bare hands. The three resolve to tell no one about it, but they soon learn that a crew member is missing from the downed bomber. Charred corpses are discovered in nearby houses and it becomes apparent that the women have unwittingly unleashed a monster.

I really liked this insight into the Checquy of the 1940’s, it’s a fascinating look at the organisation which feels more akin to an old style gentleman’s club at places. The fact that the Checquy can’t intervene in the war effort, and the fact the Government wants them too makes for a battle of wills and conversations on the moral implications of them not stepping in. Some of the characters are an absolute joy, in some cases in their eccentricity and in others for their OTT and scene stealing, I can say no better compliment than to say some of the evil characters feel like they’re being played by Nicholas Cage in a low budget movie at his scene chewing best. For some this may seem a strange thing to enjoy but it fits the world that these characters are OTT, it means that there are other characters who pass under the radar with their understatement an it all adds to the ride.

Today. Lynette Binns, a librarian with a husband and child, is a late recruit to the Checquy, having discovered only as an adult her ability to electrify everyday objects with her touch. After completing her training, she is assigned to examine a string of brutal murders and quickly realizes that all bear the unmistakable hallmark of her own unique power. Unable to provide an alibi and determined to prove her innocence, she flees, venturing into the London underworld to find answers. But now she is prey, being tracked by her own frighteningly capable comrades.

It’s interesting to see the full recruitment process of the Checquy from the perspective of someone who didn’t know they had powers and we see both the aftermath of the discovery of their power and the effects on their nearest and dearest and the problems of trying to juggle the secrecy of the Checquy and family life. The madness of the concept and the ridiculousness of some of the magical powers will make you laugh but also creates a sense of other worldliness by just being so out there.


Daniel O’Malley has an incredibly easy style to read and the story mixes the fantastic, the funny and the exciting to make a great book. Not relying on previous characters is a risk but it’s one O’Malley pulls off with aplomb creating a whole new set of highly engaging characters and the only sad thing is the chances are we won’t hear much of them except for cameo’s in future books. Fingers crossed someday we might get a compendium of short stories or novella’s that expand these great characters, and others from book 1 and 2. Was it worth the wait? Yes it was but please, please Mr O’Malley if for any reason you ever read this please can we get the next one more quickly. If you enjoy urban fantasy, then it’s definitely worth a read, you could read it without reading the first 2 but I think there are definite aspects that would seem strange, so get the first 2, read them, and by that time you’ll be desperate to hear more about the Checquy.

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