STILETTO by Daniel O'Malley


Email this review


The Brotherhood of the Checquy, England’s "secret government organization that employed the supernatural to protect the populace from the supernatural," believes it’s time to form an alliance with the Wetenschappeljik Broederschap van Natuurkundigen, known as the Grafters.

Since a failed 17th-century invasion of the Isle of Wight, the Grafters, Belgian alchemists who have developed fantastical modifications for the human body, have been the Checquys' mortal enemies. That means there are dissenters to the merger, but influential Rook Myfanwy Thomas (Checquy agents are ranked as chess pieces) supports the alliance. But the diplomatic scenario becomes thorny when the Checquy learn that the Grafters haven't told them about the Antagonists, a terror group that's pursued the Grafter delegation to England. O’Malley (The Rook, 2012) weaves a complex, action-packed, cast-of-thousands narrative. Thomas becomes a target late, but Pawn Felicity Clements, one of the preternatural MI5–type agents, leads the action. With Myfanwy serving as the M to Felicity's Bond, both become appealing, nuanced characters. We first see Felicity target a killer whose victims have B-positive blood and confront the Oblong of Mystery—a huge fleshy entity occupying a house—but then Antagonist-inspired bad stuff threatens negotiations, and she's assigned to the Grafter delegation as security for Odette Leliefeld, scion of Grafter royalty, allowing O’Malley to riff on the buddy-comedy genre while continuing to add paranormal frosting to the spy-thriller genre.

A craftily imaginative mashup of spies and the supernatural, but it’s a tad too long for all but the most ardent fans.

Pub Date: June 14th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-316-22804-6
Page count: 592pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2016


Sci-FiTHE MASKED CITY by Genevieve Cogman
by Genevieve Cogman
by D.A. Field
FictionTHE AFRIKA REICH by Guy Saville
by Guy Saville