Stiletto is the follow up to David O’Malley’s The Rook. I quite enjoyed The Rook; I’m less fond of the follow up. I think it’s still very good urban fantasy, but some of the issues I had with The Rook became more prominent here and a few new issues were introduced.
The plot follows two new women as the Checquy and the Grafters try to form an alliance. Felicity, of the Checquy and Odette of the Grafters, form an odd friendship as the forces opposing this alliance wreak havoc in London. Myffany Thomas from The Rook has a few brief appearances as a background character, which was nice as I’d grown fond of her. However, it’s a small roll. There are also a few other supernatural threats that are roaming around London, and this was one of my biggest issues with the novel- unneeded side stories.
Let’s get the good stuff out of the way first. The characters are very engaging and their struggles with the various sides of the alliance are well thought out and presented. Odette is possibly my favorite, and her bond with her younger brother Alessio was both adorable and very true to life. In addition to the characters the writing was, for the most part, engrossing. While I have my issues with some of the techniques he employed O’Malley does a very good job with his prose. These things kept me reading when I was tempted to just stop and let it lie.
As I previously mentioned there were many side stories and histories scattered throughout the book. This did happen in The Rook, though there was a reason for those side stories and there isn’t really one here. In Stiletto, these side stories have the effect of slowing down the action, and it felt very much like an artificial padding on to the book to make it larger than it should have been. In particular, there is side story that had absolutely nothing to do with the main plot and seemed to be in the book only to allow a brief cameo of a character from The Rook. This plot line is so completely removed from the main plot line that I honestly cannot think of a reason that O’Malley included it except as a padding to an already overloaded story.
My other issue with the book is related to these side stories, and that was the all too frequent point of view switches. I’ve discovered, during my participation in the Cannonball Read, that too many points of view in a novel really hinders my enjoyment of the novel. That doesn’t necessarily mean I will automatically dislike the novel, but it takes more work for me to push through a novel with multiple points of view. (this is likely why I’m still stuck halfway through Babylon’s Ashes despite absolutely loving The Expanse series). Stiletto has a lot, A LOT, of different points of view, (it’s possible this is false and it merely FELT like a lot). Some of these POV characters appearing only once, and their sections lasting only for a few paragraphs. It was beyond aggravating. I would have been less annoyed if O’Malley had only stuck with Odette and Felicity, and maybe not shifted the POVs quite so frequently. Seriously, if you’re only going to be with a POV for a few paragraphs, maybe figure out a better way to work in the information you’re presenting. Basically, O’Malley took one of my least favorite writing techniques and bumped it up to eleven causing the aggravation factor to skyrocket.
Finally, there are a TON of plot holes and one hanging plot line, which just drove me mad. Now The Rook was not free of plot holes either, but the writing was engaging and the plot moved fast enough that I could speed past those holes and ignore them. Because the multiple POV switches artificially slowed me down, the plot holes became more obvious and more annoying in Stiletto. In the wrap up of the plot, one particular plot line is just left, annoyingly, to hang there waiting for the next novel. It’s not even MENTIONED and it drove me mad. I’m being purposefully vague, but I was pissed that it didn’t even rate a mention.
This review makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy the book, and that’s not true. Despite my many complaints, I did enjoy the book. I’m even looking forward to the next one.