Rook by Sharon Cameron is different than any dystopian novel that I’ve ever read. It has the normal dystopian tropes — a society that was created after the downfall of flawed mankind, a fearless female lead, and a cruel leader who refuses to be brought down.
But it’s so much more than just another dystopian to lose in your stack.
Rook is a retelling of “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” a famous adventure novel set during France’s infamous reign of terror, set hundreds of years after the magnetic poles on Earth have shifted, rendering technology useless. This book has a futuristic aspect hiding behind the theme that “what will be has already been…”
Paris has become the “Sunken City,” because people are unable to maintain the extensive network of catacombs beneath the city. They have reverted back to punishing people with a guillotine, known to them simply as “the blade.” The people being sent to the blade are only the ones who oppose the revolution though, and it doesn’t take a mastermind to figure out that something bad is going to happen for the people on either side of this fight.
But then Red Rook appears. Fearlessly, she rescues prisoners set to death from their prison cells, leaving only the red-tipped feather of a Rook behind. The Robin hood inspired character inspires a split reaction from people — some adore her and some question her motives.
Meanwhile, in the commonwealth formerly known as Britain, socialite Sophia Bellamy is tasked with getting her family’s economic status back. Her father is relying on Sophia’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasgard to keep their family from dropping down the social classes.
But Sophia is not the perfect socialite that she should be, and her betrothed is not the perfect gentlemen either.
Sophia is witty, clever, and a little bit impulsive. Her ability to handle herself in sticky situations is something that she’s kept to herself for most of her life, that is until the search for Red Rook leads right to her door.
The dynamic between René and Sophia comes to light once it’s revealed that Sophia can fight like the best of them. In many ways Sophia has met her match with René. He supports her and sees her clearly for who she is — an independent young women who is strong in willpower and able to handle herself.
Both have secrets that they haven’t revealed, and seeing them find out that the other is nothing like they have formerly thought, and slowly realize that they like the real versions of themselves better is one of the most amazing things about this book. Their romance blossoms slowly, but it is well worth the wait.
Bottom line: this book is full of action, adventure, mystery, intrigue, the perfect amount of romantic tension, a strong female lead that will make anybody want to learn how to wield a sword and a story that you will remember long after you finish the book.