September, 1940. Three women of the Checquy, the secret organization tasked with protecting Britain from supernatural threats, stand in the sky above London and watch 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, suddenly 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.
Through a city torn by the Blitz, the friends must hunt the enemy before he kills again. Their task will take them from the tunnels of the Underground to the halls of power, where they will discover the secrets that a secret organization must keep even from itself.
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 of London criminals 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, leaving behind her family to venture into the London underworld to find answers. But now she is prey, being tracked by her own frighteningly capable comrades.
As Lyn fights off powered thugs and her own vengeful colleagues, she will find that the solution to the murders and to the mystery of her own past lies in the events of World War II, and the covert actions of three young women during the Blitz.
Dan O'Malley graduated from Michigan State University and earned a Master's Degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He then returned to his childhood home, Australia. He now works for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, writing press releases for government investigations of plane crashes and runaway boats.
Overall: If you liked the previous Checquy books (which I did), then this is a fun return to the series. I'd rate this as about the level of Stiletto -- I think the original Rook was lightning in a bottle, O'Malley's masterpiece, never to be equaled.
The Good: O'Malley continues to be extremely good at language and description, and his little asides are always delightful. He really does remind me of Terry Pratchett in his literary stylings, or perhaps P. G. Wodehouse, and that is a very high compliment.
World-building is top-notch. The world of the Checquy is strange and weird and fascinating, and it toes a good line between a sort of surreal semi-comic fantasy and an actual functioning society. The details of WWII-era Britain are also sufficiently well-researched that they get the "Actual Historian Mikhail" seal of approval.
Plot and pacing are generally solid, characterization likewise.
The Bad: O'Malley's getting better about the infodumps, but this still a very leisurely, nested sort of narrative. We have two main stories which are pretty much entirely disconnected, and then regular asides or stories-within-stories that branch off from the main plot. Each one is perfectly entertaining in its own right, but the net effect is that this felt less like one giant novel and more like two modestly sized novels plus a couple of quick short stories all sort of smooshed together. Depending on your tastes, this may or may not drive you up the wall.
I ultimately had a fine enough time in this stories. However, I think it would have been far stronger if it had made each of the respective timelines their own books. They are not connected strongly enough connected IMO to warrant them being put together; I think both would have been more entertaining and compelling if they had stood alone. I'll always read a Checquy book but this was my least fav of the 3
Intriguing, but far, FAR too long. This is one book that should have absolutely been two: it follows two highly disparate storylines, one in the past, during the London Blitz, and one in the present, with a recently anointed Chequey agent on the run. There were very minimal ties between the two storylines; I kept expecting them to come together in some meaningful way but was routinely disappointed. I liked both stories at different times: Bridget’s was most fun when she and Wattleman went on their undercover crime-fighting mission, and Lyn’s was most interesting when she was on the run from the Chequey, the supernatural organization she is employed by. There were many sections in both stories that felt like narrative padding: Lyn’s whole time at the Estate, for example, just felt like a way to kill time why Bridget’s story was evolving. Speaking of Bridget’s story: there were a lot of things that didn’t sit right with me in this take on WW2 era England. I liked Usha’s inclusion as a POV character in the story but felt like the novel was FAR too forgiving of and willing to gloss of Britain’s awful imperialist legacy in India. I would have liked to see Usha play a bigger role and have a chance to reconcile with her conflicting identities.
Also, as a Jewish woman I felt pretty weird about the story ending with the Checquy essentially being like “It would suck, but guess we’d work with the Nazis if they won and we had to!” I get this was supposed to land as a point about the greater good and protecting humanity from supernatural threats no matter the moral sacrifice, but I have no patience for games of moral relativism when Nazis are invoked. Like, come on. Nazis. Couple this with the forgiveness of a character who harbored a Nazi murderer, and I was feeling a bit out of sorts upon finishing this.
I was able to get an advance reader copy of this book, and Daniel O’Malley has done it again! He deepened the lore of the Checquy Group and gave readers more perspectives of life in the Checquy from others in the organization, past and present. While I wish we saw more of Myfanwy Thomas, I understand why she did not feature heavily in this book. I cannot wait purchase a copy when it is officially published and read this again! I sincerely hope that the author continues to deepen the world of the Checquy in future works.
I wanted so badly to love this book. The Rook is a 9 out of 10 for me and I rounded it up to 5 stars for this site. I like the second book pretty well, but not as much as the first. This one... I felt like the first half of the book could've been edited down to 10% of what it was, and that the book overall kind of lacked a point. At least it eventually got some action going, but I wouldn't have read further in the series had this been the first book.
OMG what a slog - -I can't believe the same person who wrote the first two books wrote this one. First of all it was in a style I HATE- were one chapter is in the past and the other in the present...it is very rare that both story lines are interesting but also very rare that both are dreadfully boring and guess what? BOTH ARE DREADFULLY BORING. Usually I read the past story line all the way and then read the contemporary story line but this time I read it on my Kindle and that was impossible to do ...I didn't care a bit about any of the characters - I didn't find the plot compelling - there was no humor and even worse both story lines were filled with long long sections of information that dragged - like the letter one character wrote, or when one character tells another of a past event or about a past member, or the history of something or the other- endless dialog and even more endless fight scenes - everything was LONG in this book - even skipping pages still didn't shorten the tediousness of this story. These are hours I will never get back.
Ah, finally. It has a title (Blitz) and an expected release date (sometime in October 2022). Both are likely to change, probably several times before we get any more updates, but at least they're something a bit more concrete than what I've seen so far.
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Update: February 2022
There is a cover, synopsis, release date, and purchase links from the publisher.
I had forgotten how much I loved the world of The Checquy Files (so much so that I am going to reread the series). This book took plenty of page space to explore the weird, quirky, and bizarre history of the world that sometimes only had a tangential relationship to the plot, but that was fine by me. I could read a book that was just anecdotes form this world and be happy.
But this book was more than that. Specifically two stories with a tenuous link between them (which was not apparent until 80% through the story). Honestly I would have been fine reading either as a standalone novel and am not entirely convinced they work super well together, but I still enjoyed the read nonetheless.
I appreciated how O'Malley is not beholden to revisit all the past protagonists, passing references are more than suitable. I also appreciated some of the holes in the history of the world this story filled in, especially with regards to what the Chequy were doing during WWII. All in all this book enriches the world nicely while also delivering enjoyable stories and fun characters.
Loved the first two books, so this was number one on my list of most anticipated books for 2022. Instead, it was incredibly boring, obscenely long (cut 80% and the story doesn't really change), and populated with a host of lackluster characters. Every few chapters, there would be large swaths of material describing third-rate X-men knockoffs which served no purpose other than to document any idea that may have popped into the author's head at some point while putting pen to paper.
Honestly don't know how this could have come from the same author. So, so disappointing.
Blitz took me a little bit to fully get into due to its two timelines, but once it had it's hooks in me, it didn't let go again!
I utterly and wholeheartedly adored The Rook, and while I really enjoyed Stiletto, I didn't love it just as much. Blitz definitely is back to a full on favourite of mine!
I giggled, I snorted and I laughed out loud. I annoyed my husband by repeatedly sharing favourite moments out of context. I mean when there's a head lice infestation the correct response always should be "We need teh shampoo, the combs and the chainsaws again!"
On the other hand I was also on the edge of my seat. The humour did not hurt the suspense, which is often a problem. There's light-hearted banter, but there's also the horrible truths of a world at war. Bombed houses and loss of loved ones balance the fun to make a well-rounded story.
I love the main characters, and I wish I could spend time with any of them! I especially enjoyed a 30 something mum coming into get powers instead of a chosen teen. Give me more older female characters please!
O'Malley always delivers on that front especially, with people feeling three dimensional and realistic.
After having really enjoyed Daniel O'Malley's first two books in the Checquy Files series, I'm sad to say that Blitz fell flat for me. In fact, about mid-way through I decided to stop reading half the book. Bear with me one moment while I explain.
Blitz is really two stories in one- the first is the story of the Checquy during the time of the Blitz and focuses mainly on the exploits of Pamela, Usha, and Bridget who are trying to find a Nazi with Checquy-like powers who is lose in London due to their actions, and stumble upon some other shenanigans that must be dealt with as well. The second story is more contemporary- when Lynnette Binns erupts in red lightening in her kitchen one day, the Checquy swoop in to collect her, teach her to control her power and, as one would imagine, completely disrupt her life. When a serial killer is discovered in London bearing the unmistakable mark of Lyn's powers, she goes on the run to try to prove her innocence.
The problem is, that those two stories don't really have anything in common. Oh sure, there are small tendrils here and there that link them, but there are no big a-ha moments of connection; they can exist as completely separate stories. And so, midway through the book, I abandoned the Blitz storyline because I was bored to tears by it & focused on Lyn's story, which I was enjoying. I would usually read the first and last few pages of each chapter of the Blitz story to see if anything had changed (no, it had not). I enjoyed Lyn's story and never felt that I was missing part of the story or didn't understand it.
So, 3 stars for Lyn's story, a DNF for the Blitz storyline, gives us a 2 star average I'm afraid. Perhaps I'll go back & read the other story another time.
It is more than lovely to be back in London with the Checquy (a little bit early - bookseller perk!) We have new protagonists and dual timelines. In 1940 three Checquy women stand in the sky above London as German bombers approach. Against the rules, one brings a plane down, bringing about unintended consequences that send them on a secret mission. In modern day, a librarian (oh yes, and she is a total badass) having only recently discovered that she has supernatural powers, finds herself on the run from her new Checquy colleagues as she tries to find the person murdering London criminals, using powers just like hers. Of course, the two stories are connected, and as they unfold we are treated to much action, hilariously ludicrous powers, loveable new and old characters, and two satisfying mysteries. I enjoy a series that has different protagonists in each book; it’s a bit like Dublin Murder Squad in that way, and as well as being funny and action-packed, it is also thought provoking about WWII, reminding me of C.J. Sansom’s Dominion. Blitz is my favourite of the series, and not only because of the librarian action.
I was so excited to get an early copy of the third book in one of my favorite series, and I am ecstatic to say that it gave me the exact delight I was looking for. Yes, it can be read as a standalone, but it is a chonk, so you might do better easing yourself in with Rook first. Either way, getting lost in the world of the Checquy again was just what I needed — these books are so funny, and I blitzed (lol) through all 700 pages super quickly because I loved the story and couldn’t wait to see how things wrapped up. A big part of these books are the random sidetracking to tell stories about the magical organization — it’s world building without feeling like an info dump, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the books. His imagination is wild. There were times where I wanted to stick with one story or the other to just follow it through and see what happened, but I was thoroughly entertained and so happy the whole time.
Blitz is the third book in The Checquy Files and while it could, theoretically, be read as a stand alone, I feel like a lot of this would be less interesting without the background information from books one and two. Especially the integration of the Grafters into the Checquy. So just a heads up I recommend reading The Rook and Stiletto first.
London is in the middle of The Blitz, the bombing campaign by the Nazi's that wreaked devastation across England during WWII and three members of the Checquy have just made the biggest mistake of the career; they brought down a German Bomber killing all aboard and putting a Checquy right in the middle of the War. Somewhere they aren't supposed to be. Pam, Usha, and Bridget realize that no one has linked the downed bomber to Supernatural forces as the return to Apex house that evening. Thinking they've dodged death and probably dismemberment at the hands of their colleagues they breathe a sigh of relief. Only to discover the next day that aboard the bomber was a German with Supernatural powers himself who survived and is now leaving a trail of corpses behind him. The girls know they must stop him themselves before the Checquy finds out what they've done, what they've unleashed on England.
Today, a normal everyday librarian will wake up with a headache. She will go about her normal everyday life with her normal everyday family and while her headache will get progressively worse throughout the day she will have no idea that it will lead to her discovering that she's far from normal and in London that means becoming a ward of the Checquy. As Lynette Bins settles in her new exciting and wholly weird life as a Checquy operative she discovers that someone is murdering people with her powers, fearing the worst reaction possible from the Checquy (death and dismemberment) Lyn does something no Pawn has ever considered. She goes Rogue. With no on to rely on but herself Lyn has to prove her innocence if she wants to get back to the family she loves and the job she's discovered she loves just as much.
Lyn a freaking amazing. O'Malley writes some absolutely badass women and Lynette Bins is no exception! She is absolutely everything I've come to know and love about a woman thrown into the Checquy with little to no choice in the matter and not only makes the best of it she *excels*. She is an absolute credit to Myfawny and Odette! I think what I enjoyed about her character the most is that she is a human who absolutely hates authority and is as paranoid if not more than The Checquy which is really what allows her to go rogue. Without her innate distrust of "the man" she wouldn't have gotten very far which makes her the perfect character for this world.
The backstory that is intertwined in this is interesting as well. The Checquy is an old organization with a long history so it was a lot of fun to live out some of that history especially since we get to learn more about Lord Wattleman. Pam, Usha, and Bridget are amazing as well and I'm really glad that Matilda's story went the way it did. I honestly hope we learn more about her time in the Checquy in later books.
One thing that I absolutely love about these books is that O'Malley will always mix in these stories about famous (or infamous) operatives and manifestations in the current story. At first they kind of seem like he's going down a rabbit hole, however, as you read you realize that some of these anecdotes are important to the current story and if you didn't pay attention to them your "Aha!" Moment is gonna suck.
Finally this is once again a well timed action mystery with awesome fight scenes, some of the weirdest damn magic/abilities/creatures/monsters in writing, and a truly perplexing mystery that ends with a damn good commentary on how much of a difference a "normal" person can make in the world.
Overall, I obviously recommend this entire series. It's one of my all time favorites but absolutely perfect for anyone who likes Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files or Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series.
Nearly as good as the Roke - this could evolve into an amazing series.
Just when I thought I couldn't stand more WW2 novels, O'Malley places his third Checquy files novel partly during the Blitz in London, with a parallel storyline in the present, following directly after "Stiletto". Even though the storylines are only very loosely connected, the shifting narrative works surprisingly good, with well defined and (mostly) likeable characters.
Just like with Stiletto, there's quite a lot of recap which could have been left out, assuming very few people would start reading the 3. Novel in a series,but it's kept on a decent level and mostly interwoven in the narrative so it doesn't feel like info dumps.
This 688 page book would have been much better as two 344 page books.
There are two stories being told here. The first focuses on apprentices of the Checquy during the Battle of Britain, and even then, really focuses primarily on Bridget. One night, Pamela flies off and downs a German bomber, violating one of the Checquy's oldest rules: don't get involved in non-supernatural events. Pamela's actions, if discovered, could escalate the war to a degree unseen before. And matters are made worse when they find out that one of the Germans is still alive and witnessed Pamela flying.
The second story takes place in the present, and follows Lyn who only discovers her abilities in her 30s in a rather explosive manner. She's forced into joining the Checquy so she can learn to control her abilities if she ever hopes to see her family again. And then she uncovers a series of murders involving powers exactly like her own. In order to save herself, she becomes a rogue, hiding from the Checquy until she can find the real murderer and clear her own name.
Both stories are interesting and exciting, but they have almost nothing to do with each other. The one connection that they actually have is really unimportant to either story...they both could have existed on their own without being coupled up in this one book. Which means that all the back and forth that occurs while reading the book is really unnecessary and actually detrimental to staying immersed in either story. If instead there was a revelation in one of Bridget's chapters that impacted what happened in one of Lyn's, that would have made sense. But there's one thing and only one thing that happens in Bridget's story that impacts Lyn in any way: the German airman manages to survive in London for a while and spends some time with some prostitutes. That's it. That's the only connector that matters in this book, and Lyn's story worked perfectly fine without that knowledge.
Add to that a barely-there appearance from Myfanwy, a barely-there appearance from Odette and only a mention of Felicity, nothing at all from the Croatoan and nothing of import from the Grafters, and no progress to the cliff-hanger in Stiletto about Gestalt having some new bodies, and it really starts to disappoint. On the plus side we do get a new secret society, which was nice but it would have been more nice if there was more time spent on it. And there's quite a bit of time spent with a young Pawn Henry Wattleman before he becomes Lord of the Checquy.
Each story individually: pretty good. Not as good as The Rook or Stiletto, but pretty good. But together, it just weakens both stories by highlighting what is lacking. I think the next time I re-read this book, I'll probably start with Bridget's chapters and skip over Lyn's, until I finish Bridget's story, and then start again on Lyn's chapters and read all of those together.
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, read Stiletto, and only then read Blitz. That 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 from supernatural threats. In Blitz, we follow converging stories 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, takes down a Nazi bomber with her bare hands. A mistake. One of the crew survives the fall and goes on a killing spree. 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.
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. Bridget produces almost indestructible pearly mass, Pamela uses air to wreak havoc, and Usha can do crazy stuff with gravity.
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 Checquy Files, Blitz 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.
Narration: Moira Quirk is a treasure and a perfect choice for the series.
Way too long at 672 pages in the hardcover version. This was split into timelines- the stories of a trio of WWII Checquy agents and a modern day agent who came into her powers later in life. In line with another reviewer, I kept waiting for the connection between the two stories but there wasn’t one. It really could’ve been two separate books.
There was also SO much padding- all these random side stories like “here’s a four-page anecdote about men getting supernaturally pregnant that has absolutely no bearing on the main stories!” or characters talking details of agents and potential recruits in other countries that are the never heard about again. The battle scenes were overly long and repetitive. I ended up skimming some of Lyn’s scenes toward the end because I could tell it was a lot of filler.
I recently reread the first two books to remember what was going on when this book came out, but I really didn’t need to. Only the broadest details of the world came back for this book. The Rook was my favorite of the bunch and was much more focused and contained in its storytelling. I think there are things in this book that set up possibilities for future books, but I’m not sure I’m interested enough to read them, and that’s kind of disappointing.
More a 4.5 Although this is the third in series, it’s also a great place to jump into this terrific (and humorous) fantasy series. This entry features dual timelines, one one took a little longer to win me over, but the other I could have spent more time with and yet, by the end it works. Contains one of the best fight scenes (there are curtains involved), and some truly demented superpowers.
I enjoyed both Stiletto and Rook better than Blitz. I'm not sure the separate plots worked well as one coherent novel although I understand why it was framed that way. I think I might have enjoyed it more if I had thought about this as an entirely new entry in the same universe rather than a third book in the series.
I’ve enjoyed each of the Checquy books so far, but unfortunately each less than the last. And my main issue with this is that the two stories were mostly unrelated. Not necessarily bad, because I actually liked both, it just seemed like it was two novels stitched together more than one long story.
Lots to enjoy here in this two story line novel. One line is during WWII and the other is present day. I was a bit thrown by the start but it didn’t take all that long to get into the stories I enjoy about the Chequy. For 700 pages it was a very quick read.
Oh dear, what went wrong? Books 1 and 2 were amazing, flawless creations. I was well over halfway through this before it started to pick up. Lots of digression into irrelevance made the first half a struggle. Only very brief cameo appearances from known characters seemed a mistake. For me it was a huge disappointment after a long wait.
I received an advance copy from Hachette via Edelweiss.
How do I review a book I've waited six years for?
Daniel O'Malley has done it again, writing new stories about the Checquy and its members, this time telling two stories-- one during World War Two about two apprentices who share a secret, and one during contemporary times about a librarian whose life is upended when her power manifests in her 30s. This could have been two books, and at times, it felt like it should have been, because so much is on page, and yet sometimes it felt like the stories slowed down. But when it got going, I was sucked in, and up well past my bedtime.
During the London Blitz, Bridget and Usha are apprentices to Lady Carmichael, one of the heads of the Chequy. Bridget was born with mother of pearl on the palms of her hands, and is able to secret the substance if needed. Usha can control the direction gravity pulls items, whether it's in the traditional direction of "down", or maybe "to the wall" or "through the ceiling". When Usha, Bridget, and a Pawn encounter a Nazi bomber in the air, the Pawn breaks all the rules of the Chequy and knocks it out of the sky. Belatedly, they realize the pilot has survived, and now they have to find a fleeing Nazi in London. Meanwhile, Chequy artifacts are appearing on the black market, with deadly results.
Currently, Lyn Binns is a happily married mother and librarian, but when her powers manifest in her kitchen, frightening her preschooler, she is quickly spirited away by the Chequy to their academy on a remote island, where she and her classmates (all of which are children, not moms in their 30s) are taught the history of the Chequy, how to control their powers, how to defend themselves, and how to fight in unexpected circumstances. Once Lyn is judged sufficiently ready, she's released to essentially be an intern and apprentice, ready to balance her family and her dedication to the Chequy. When a series of underworld figures are found dead, electrocuted with a distinct pattern left on them, Lyn knows she has no choice but to catch the culprit or face death, because it's her power's pattern that's been found.
Both the past and present stories in this book fleshed out more of the Chequy and how it used to work, does work, and will continue to try to work, regardless of circumstance. They've been around for a thousand years, and they endeavor to be around a thousand more, as their mission is to protect the British Isles against the supernatural, regardless of where it comes from or what flag they live under.
So many parts of this made me laugh, purely because of the way O'Malley can use language, contrasting the mundane with the extraordinary. "To whomever has been taking food out of my blue Tupperware container: KINDLY STOP. It contains tungsten supplements that I need in order to survive. You may also want to check with your doctor to confirm that it will not have any effect on you."
Three women in WWII try to find a missing Nazi while a woman in the present discovers she has the power to produce electricity
I settled back into the Checquy with a huge grin and a soft sigh. I love these stories! While both of the interconnected plots were interesting it's really the bizarre asides that I love best. Only with Daniel O'Malley do I enjoy the tangential side bits (let's do a few pages of men suddenly becoming pregnant) and infodumps as much as the main storylines. I will be there for the next book and the next.
My favorite quote from this one was "... can you let Pawn Meijer know that we shan't need a corpse speed-grown?"