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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Book review: Blitz by Daniel O'Malley


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Daniel O'Malley is an Australian science fiction writer. A graduate of Michigan State University with a master's degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He works for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. His first novel, The Rook (novel), was released in 2012 and was a winner of the 2012 Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

PublisherLittle, Brown and Company (October 18, 2022) Page count: 689 p

I'm a big fan of O'Malley's Checquy files. They're humorous and imaginative. O'Malley has a knack for developing cool powers for Checquy agents, and I never tire of discovering them. 

Although each installment in the series stands alone, I recommend you start with The Rook, follow with Stiletto, and only then read Blitz. This way, you'll be able to appreciate all the nuances. 

Checquy is a secret protection agency operating in Britain. Their mission is simple: to protect citizens, and country, from supernatural threats. In Blitz, we follow converging stories set in two different timelines. 

The book opens in London, bombed by Nazis. Checquy agents should never get involved in wars, but sometimes too much is too much. Pamela, Chequy Pawn, snaps and takes down a Nazi bomber with her bare hands. A mistake. One of the crew survives the fall and goes on a killing spree. It turns out other countries also have supernatural soldiers. The three agents try to neutralize him.  

The second storyline follows Lynn, a married librarian who blows up a kitchen with her skin. This effectively ends her "normal" life. Recruited by Checquy, she receives thorough training. After completing it, she's assigned to investigate a series of brutal murders of London criminals. Surprisingly,  they all bear the unmistakable mark of her own unique power. Lyn knows she's innocent; Others don't. She flees, leaving everything behind to prove her innocence.

I enjoyed reading Blitz, but I already love the world and discovering its new facets. Readers new to O'Malley's world, unsure why they should care, may get tired of the unfocused narrative, myriad anecdotes, and backstories. I enjoyed these digressions, but they slow down the pacing.

Since I enjoy relaxed writing and O'Malley's humor, I didn't mind and found myself immersed in the story. And history. And backstories. Yes, it's overstuffed. But not necessarily in a bad way. Plus, it contains lines that make me crack. Like this one:

"Paranoia was becoming her primary source of cardio"

The characters are great, and their powers are impressive and well-described. Take Pawn Seager, able to send his empty skin for lethal missions. Or even our main characters. Lynn can generate energy with her skin. Bridget produces almost indestructible pearly mass, Pamela uses air to wreak havoc, and Usha can do crazy stuff with gravity. And Georgina tastes everything. Gross. But fun.

I also loved the characters' relationships and how O'Malley writes about female friendship.  Sly humor peppers the narrative, and social commentary is ironic and accurate. 
Like previous entries in The Checquy FilesBlitz is fun, humorous, original, and has great female characters. Yes, it's self-indulgent but also entertaining. I hope we'll get more stories in the world.

Audiobook: I've consumed the book in an audiobook format. All I have to say is that Moira Quirk is a treasure and a perfect choice for the series.


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a spy thriller by Charles Moffat's Alt-Earth series.


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