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Manhattan's night life just got weirder... It starts as a simple job — but simple jobs, when you're dealing with the magical world, often end up anything but. As a Retriever, Wren Valere specializes in finding things gone missing — and then bringing them back, no questions asked. Normally her job is stimulating, challenging and only a little bit dangerous. But every once in Manhattan's night life just got weirder... It starts as a simple job — but simple jobs, when you're dealing with the magical world, often end up anything but. As a Retriever, Wren Valere specializes in finding things gone missing — and then bringing them back, no questions asked. Normally her job is stimulating, challenging and only a little bit dangerous. But every once in a while... Case in point: A cornerstone containing a spell is stolen and there's a magical complication. (Isn't there always?) Wren's unique abilities aren't enough to lay this particular case to rest, so she turns to some friends: a demon (minor), a mage who has lost his mind, and a few others, including Sergei, her business partner (and maybe a bit more?). Sometimes what a woman has to do to get the job done is enough to give even Wren nightmares....


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Manhattan's night life just got weirder... It starts as a simple job — but simple jobs, when you're dealing with the magical world, often end up anything but. As a Retriever, Wren Valere specializes in finding things gone missing — and then bringing them back, no questions asked. Normally her job is stimulating, challenging and only a little bit dangerous. But every once in Manhattan's night life just got weirder... It starts as a simple job — but simple jobs, when you're dealing with the magical world, often end up anything but. As a Retriever, Wren Valere specializes in finding things gone missing — and then bringing them back, no questions asked. Normally her job is stimulating, challenging and only a little bit dangerous. But every once in a while... Case in point: A cornerstone containing a spell is stolen and there's a magical complication. (Isn't there always?) Wren's unique abilities aren't enough to lay this particular case to rest, so she turns to some friends: a demon (minor), a mage who has lost his mind, and a few others, including Sergei, her business partner (and maybe a bit more?). Sometimes what a woman has to do to get the job done is enough to give even Wren nightmares....

30 review for Staying Dead

  1. 5 out of 5

    ᴥ Irena ᴥ

    3.5 I wasn't unfamiliar with this world because I know its rules and peculiarities from Paranormal Scene Investigations series and I'll admit it is quite possible that you might be a bit lost in Staying Dead unless you know the world the Wren operates. It doesn't matter which series was published first really. My point is that I didn't need any explanations and could enjoy this book because nothing was an unknown to me - the Council and lonejacks, the Cosa and the fatae, the Talents (those who ca 3.5 I wasn't unfamiliar with this world because I know its rules and peculiarities from Paranormal Scene Investigations series and I'll admit it is quite possible that you might be a bit lost in Staying Dead unless you know the world the Wren operates. It doesn't matter which series was published first really. My point is that I didn't need any explanations and could enjoy this book because nothing was an unknown to me - the Council and lonejacks, the Cosa and the fatae, the Talents (those who can use the current, i.e. magic) and Nulls and so on. Both Sergei and Wren appear in one of the books of Paranormal Scene Investigations so I even knew about them. Wren Valere is basically a thief, a Retriever. She and her partner 'in crime' Sergei get hired to retrieve stolen objects to 'their rightful - the client was always rightful owner without the fuss'. This time it is an Artefact (a magical object) that has been taken and Wren is the best choice the client has to retrieve it. However, the secrets their client keeps make an already difficult job even worse. Add to all that the mage Council and their machinations, an appearance of another shadowy organization, the vigilante groups attacking non-humans and you can see why Sergei and Wren have their hands full. I love how their relationship is depicted. They both acknowledge (to themselves) that there is something more to it than common partnership or friendship, but it doesn't go further than that. At least, not in this book, which would be too fast and it would ruin everything.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bridgette Redman

    I can think of few things more frustrating than to see interesting characters, promising plotlines, and a singular setting squandered by a writer who ignores her craft and buries all those alluring aspects in poor writing and turgid style. It’s especially surprising when the author spent 15 years as an editor and has no excuse for the elementary errors that spoiled what could have been a fascinating read. No reader should be forced to excavate characters, setting, and story from writing that is I can think of few things more frustrating than to see interesting characters, promising plotlines, and a singular setting squandered by a writer who ignores her craft and buries all those alluring aspects in poor writing and turgid style. It’s especially surprising when the author spent 15 years as an editor and has no excuse for the elementary errors that spoiled what could have been a fascinating read. No reader should be forced to excavate characters, setting, and story from writing that is often rambling and contradictory. This is exactly what happens in Laura Anne Gilman’s Staying Dead. Eventually I became so frustrated with reading this novel that I had to pick up a pen and start marking up the copy just so I could keep track of where the novel was trying to go. Staying Dead is set in modern New York, with a twist. There is magic in our world, magic that is called “current.” We’re surrounded by those who use magic, called Talents, but they blend into our society and use magic in a way we don’t notice. It helps that there are also several secret societies working to control information. Staying Dead tells us the story of Wren, an independent contractor and Talent who retrieves magical objects for her clients. Her agent is Sergei, a man she is slowly becoming entangled with on an emotional as well as professional level. In this first book in what is supposed to be a series, Wren and Sergei are hired to retrieve a protection spell that was stolen from the cornerstone of a building. The case turns out to have more complications than expected and Wren and Sergei must make difficult choices while staying alive. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Gilman has created an interesting setting and Staying Dead has all the makings of a great novel. Unfortunately, it doesn’t deliver. Now mind, when I talk about writing errors, I’m not talking about typos or minor grammatical errors. Those could be forgiven, especially considering that I was reading an uncorrected proof. The problems were more serious than that. First, Gilman has a habit of telling you what you feel and think. Her pages are littered with “you would think” “you would believe” and “you would see.” It’s not her place to tell us what we think and see. It is her job to create an experience that we can share. She needs to show us why we should feel a particular way, not just tell us to feel that way. Sometimes it is outright presumptuous. For example, she tells me that I should call something a shack rather than a house. She then writes that the “shack” is a “two-story building (that) boasted a wraparound porch and tall windows.” She’s wrong. I might call it run-down, but I wouldn’t call that a shack. That’s the danger in putting words into the mouths of your readers. They might spit them back out rather than accepting what you have to offer. Gilman is often guilty of telling us rather than showing us. She give us a waitress and has her behaving in ways that show extremely poor skill for a waitress. She then tells us that she’s an excellent waitress. Apparently we aren’t supposed to believe what she just got done showing us. Her characters also do impossible things simply to provide narrative pacing. Average, non-magical characters seem able to read other people’s minds in amazingly precise detail. It would have been more effective for Gilman to tell us these things from the viewpoint of the omniscient narrator rather than the perspective of someone who has no real way of knowing what they’re claiming to know. At other times, one can only think that Wren must be an intensely reflective person to have so many insights between each line of dialogue. It’s not only unrealistic, it’s tedious. Some of the actions also make no sense and aren’t in the least bit realistic for the world that was created. For example, here is a passage in which the CEO of Frants Industries is speaking to one of his employees just hours after discovering that the protection spell has been stolen: ”Could you please speak to Allison in Human Resources, have her write up a press release stating that we had an unfortunate attempt on our security, but that we have every faith in the systems we use, and do not feel that there is any need for alarm, etc. If this bastard did take the stone to try and undermine Frants Industries, he will have to work harder than that. Much, much harder.” It makes no sense. No multibillion dollar company would order the writing of such a press release and certainly not by human resources. They surely have a marketing or a PR department. And why would they advertise that their security system has been compromised? It might make sense to send out a memo or an e-mail internally, but certainly not a press release. Staying Dead sometimes reads like an English 101 assignment on writing descriptive passages (though not one that would get a very high grade). There seemed to be a quota of metaphors per page and many of them were forced and unnecessary. Others didn’t work at all. Other times it reads like the script to a television show in which the writer has no faith in the set designer or scenographer. The story would benefit immensely if the writing were tighter. As it is, there are too many images and ideas in each sentence. We get swamped in a bog of dangling participles. There are also loads and loads of redundant material or information that is pointless. If information doesn’t advance the plot, doesn’t give us greater depth on a character, and doesn’t add to the rhythm and melody of a story, why include it? We don’t need to walk every step of a journey with the characters. Why give so much detail? Let the reader be engaged and use his or her imagination. Gilman fails to grasp the difference between spoken and written English. More subtly, she reproduces the spoken language rather than making written English conversational. While the characters had the potential to be fascinating, they too were compromised by poor writing. For pages we read about Sergei getting angry. There is a huge build-up about how furious he is and what he’s going to do about that anger. We’re supposed to believe that he has never before been as angry as he is in that moment. Then there is no follow-up. The anger dissipates in a moment, so quickly that it makes the character seem false. His emotion was inauthentic, a mere device to create suspense. Sergei’s mood swings were awfully severe—especially given the way he’d been described. We’re told he’s one way and he acts in another way. Gilman maps all the emotions he goes through in a 60 second period, belying her description of him as cool, calm, and elegant. It also becomes quickly noticeable that almost all the characters talk alike. No one has their own voice. We also have to assume that everyone in New York uses the phrase “my boy” when talking to another man. There are also contradictions throughout the story. In the beginning of the novel, Wren tells us that she knows Sergei has had several significant others. Later, she says she doesn’t know of any. Sergei’s apartment gets minutely described as one having an open floor plan, then in another scene, the kitchen is closed off. The timeline also seemed off, though I didn’t go back and check assiduously (that is, after all, the author’s job). One of the storylines seems to progress and then freeze for several days so that the other storyline could perform its necessary plot actions. On a positive note, it was refreshing to have a main character that was neither breathtakingly beautiful or horribly ugly. She was, to borrow the author’s words, “forgettably average.” It was also nice to see a woman talking about her mother as a woman who did the right things. There was so much about this novel that was promising. There is a good novel somewhere in Staying Dead. I only wish Gilman would have dug it out for us before turning it over to her publisher.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brad Foley

    I was angry with myself for weeks for bothering to read this series. In my defense, I started it because one of the associated "PUPI" series was recommended on NPR. I finished it because I couldn't believe it was quite so bad. The characters are (maybe) tolerable, but none of them are compelling. The writing is barely acceptable (I've read worse). But the series is one set of post hoc contrivances after another to try and salvage a world whose logic is self-contradictory, and a plot full of unpa I was angry with myself for weeks for bothering to read this series. In my defense, I started it because one of the associated "PUPI" series was recommended on NPR. I finished it because I couldn't believe it was quite so bad. The characters are (maybe) tolerable, but none of them are compelling. The writing is barely acceptable (I've read worse). But the series is one set of post hoc contrivances after another to try and salvage a world whose logic is self-contradictory, and a plot full of unpatchable holes. Where emotion is indicated, crass melodrama ensues. Where motivations are necessary, they are stuck on as afterthoughts. This series is, frankly, unredeemable. My biggest gripes are as follows. The magical "Costa Nostradamus" are supposed to be literally unnoticeable by non-magic folk. Their existence slips out of mind, and their magic is unseen by normal people. Well and good. But at the same time, the big bad trouble brewing through the entire series is due to normals growing more and more paranoid of the magical people in their midst? And people not only work alongside magical creatures (fatae? I hate that word, it sounds like "fatty", I'm sorry.) but they discriminate against them (like that scene with the weird troll guy at the docks). You can't have it both ways, but Gilman tries - she says maybe some people are partly aware? Well then - if only some of the people are kind of aware, why are they so anti-Costa? This is never at all explained. Not even a little bit. Mobs of people run out of nowhere and beat up fairies, or (in one scene so ludicrous I laughed out loud) to force their crying children to knock in unicorns' kneecaps with baseball bats. It was maddening. "Bad Guys" would wander into a scene to do unspeakable things and wander out again, just because. And worse. There is at one point a huge spontaneous-ish battle of magic and firearms that materialises in the middle of a gosh-darn city (again for no reason I could discern - a mob just formed randomly, and then a countermob, and they just went at it). Things blow up. People die. Bridges collapse. And no one cares! This "don't notice magic" thing is carried to such a selective extreme it is mind boggling. And even worse. Wren is basically a thief. A pretty literal nobody, her talent is that no one notices her. Practically not even the other Cosa know her name. She is however a famous (for those in the know) and accomplished thief (or "Retriever"). So this almost anonymous nobody, who has little discernible moral code, and no skills beyond being a thief is practically unanimously voted the leader of all the Cosa Nostradamus in their time of trouble (even though, while they are voting for her, barely anyone notices her presence or can hear a word she says). Because all the people who don't know her have such respect for her? And I won't get into the weird magic-spark-sex-addiction, or the stereotyped sort-of-side-kick who fights with Wren but secretly protects her, and other assorted lunacy. Just, seriously, don't read these books. It's not worth it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ithlilian

    I wanted to read this for a long time, it sounded interesting, and it's a series that has been around for a bit. In my quest to read any urban fantasy I can get my hands on, this was a must try. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. This novel is agonizingly slow. The mystery solving was ridiculous, and there was nothing else to take it's place. The characters are unlikable and uninteresting, the world isn't special, the romance is not enjoyable, the writing style is choppy, and the plot isn't exci I wanted to read this for a long time, it sounded interesting, and it's a series that has been around for a bit. In my quest to read any urban fantasy I can get my hands on, this was a must try. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. This novel is agonizingly slow. The mystery solving was ridiculous, and there was nothing else to take it's place. The characters are unlikable and uninteresting, the world isn't special, the romance is not enjoyable, the writing style is choppy, and the plot isn't exciting in the least. When I say agonizingly slow, I do mean agonizingly slow...physically painful. I feel sorry that I wasted my time with this, and I wish I could find one good thing to say about it, but I can't.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bethany C

    I didn't completely hate this book, but I frequently found myself zoning out, uninterested. The story was okay, I just couldn't get into it at all. This book/author probably does have a lot of fans, but for some reason it just didn't do it for me. It seemed like it took me forever to finish, especially since I had to keep rereading paragraphs that I realized I wasn't really paying attention to. I actually genuinely liked the characters; like I said, there was just something about the way it was I didn't completely hate this book, but I frequently found myself zoning out, uninterested. The story was okay, I just couldn't get into it at all. This book/author probably does have a lot of fans, but for some reason it just didn't do it for me. It seemed like it took me forever to finish, especially since I had to keep rereading paragraphs that I realized I wasn't really paying attention to. I actually genuinely liked the characters; like I said, there was just something about the way it was written that I couldn't get into.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Suz

    I think the narrator undermined this series for me. She sounded like a breathy 14 year old female. ALL the characters sounded like breathy 14 year old females. Perhaps I'd like it better if I read it. I think the narrator undermined this series for me. She sounded like a breathy 14 year old female. ALL the characters sounded like breathy 14 year old females. Perhaps I'd like it better if I read it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Krissy

    I never finished this book, although I kept trying since I actually paid for it. I picked it up because there is a legitimately interesting premise here. Unfortunately, the entire book seems to consist of explanation of the world, mostly through flashbacks. The initial mystery (Oh no somebody stole a piece of a building!) seemed boring, and by the time I found out what made it interesting, I was turned off by the heroine's lack of empathy. Wren's crush on her partner, Sergei, piqued my interest I never finished this book, although I kept trying since I actually paid for it. I picked it up because there is a legitimately interesting premise here. Unfortunately, the entire book seems to consist of explanation of the world, mostly through flashbacks. The initial mystery (Oh no somebody stole a piece of a building!) seemed boring, and by the time I found out what made it interesting, I was turned off by the heroine's lack of empathy. Wren's crush on her partner, Sergei, piqued my interest at first, until I found out he already secretly returned it and their mutual consternation (what are these weird new feelings I have for her/him? Gosh, does she/he know I like her/him?) started to feel very high-school. Plus the lack of action gets to be pretty ridiculous; at one point the reader is left with Sergei cowering under a table while Wren runs off to face an attacker. We rejoin her when the fight is over and the bad guy is already gone. I think I put the book down for at least a few weeks after that.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It's a paranormal PI type story, with really great character development. I loved the interactions between the heroine (Wren) and her partner Sergei. It reminded me of the chemisty between Bones and Kat in Frost's Night huntress series, minus the steamy sex scenes (or at least not in book one of the series.) I also liked the idea of magic as electrical current and the various non-human magic users (fae, angels, demons - none coresponding to traditional my I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It's a paranormal PI type story, with really great character development. I loved the interactions between the heroine (Wren) and her partner Sergei. It reminded me of the chemisty between Bones and Kat in Frost's Night huntress series, minus the steamy sex scenes (or at least not in book one of the series.) I also liked the idea of magic as electrical current and the various non-human magic users (fae, angels, demons - none coresponding to traditional myths.) The premise is that Wren's top magical talent is not being noticed. She's used that skill to become a great thief, but she and her non-magical partner Sergei have built a stolen-goods retreival business out of Wren's talent. Their latest job is retreiving a stolen cornerstone of a building that is imbued with protective magic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    I enjoyed the overall plot but I have to confess that for much of the book I really wasn't sure what was going on. The world-building seemed to suggest that there had been a preceding series - but I don't think there has? Wren is a Retriever, she steals things back from thieves on behalf of the owners. She and her handler, Sergei, are investigating the theft of a cornerstone from an office building. However, it soon transpires that the cornerstone was magically endowed. Wren gets the cornerstone I enjoyed the overall plot but I have to confess that for much of the book I really wasn't sure what was going on. The world-building seemed to suggest that there had been a preceding series - but I don't think there has? Wren is a Retriever, she steals things back from thieves on behalf of the owners. She and her handler, Sergei, are investigating the theft of a cornerstone from an office building. However, it soon transpires that the cornerstone was magically endowed. Wren gets the cornerstone back but not the 'mojo' and the client isn't happy. Add in infighting between The Council of Mages, lone jacks, fatae, Wizzarts (I never really understood them - are they different again or just the junkies of the Current world?) and a nasty human group trying to exterminate fatae and it gets complicated. I understand why so many gave it low ratings on GR but I have bought the second one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Good sort of detectivey series about Wren, whose magic leaves her unnoticed by most people, and her partner Sergei, who isn't magical at all. Good sort of detectivey series about Wren, whose magic leaves her unnoticed by most people, and her partner Sergei, who isn't magical at all.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    Fun, light series and a very light intro to it. It's modern fantasy variant #7: mages/magical animals/etc. are in hiding, have their own politics and so forth. Butcher, Buffy, yadda yadda yadda. Our heroine is a re-thief: she takes stolen items back to their rightful owners. I can't imagine there is *that* much work in it, but I can suspend disbelief. I can also imagine that her definition of "rightful owners" is pretty flexible. The story plays out like a heist movie: she has a mission, she finds Fun, light series and a very light intro to it. It's modern fantasy variant #7: mages/magical animals/etc. are in hiding, have their own politics and so forth. Butcher, Buffy, yadda yadda yadda. Our heroine is a re-thief: she takes stolen items back to their rightful owners. I can't imagine there is *that* much work in it, but I can suspend disbelief. I can also imagine that her definition of "rightful owners" is pretty flexible. The story plays out like a heist movie: she has a mission, she finds the object's location (via a deus ex friend-of-her-old-mentor), she goes in on the job, and things get complicated. The complications in the job are very nicely handled, and the final confrontation is excellent, with her using her magic, making moral and ethical decisions on the fly, and entering into armed negotiations between two very angry parties. Quite nice. The secret society and romance subplots (which another reviewer commented on) are so-so, but do start to flesh out nicely in the next story. Like most first books in a series, we have to leave some room for the author to go back and add necessary detail and to retcon* mistakes. Actually, the romance subplot is handled very well for the genre. Luna is Harlequin's fantasy imprint, but the sex and romance in their books is quite subdued and well-handled. This book is more about sexual tension than romance (romance comes in a later book). The writing is fine for the first book in an author's first series. It's way ahead of Butcher's first three books, for example. Although Gilman, unlike Butcher at the time, probably has the benefit of an editor who cares about basic spelling and grammar. All in all, it's a fun series on the lighter (not in humor, but in tone) end of the subgenre. * retcon is "retroactive continuity," when an author explains away the past in a way that wasn't thought of at the time--or even contradicts what was said before--in order to create continuity.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gnome Claire *Wishes she was as cool as Gnome Ann*

    I found staying dead boring to be honest. The plot was confusing and unclear and the world building was lacking so I didn't really know what was going on for most the book and even after finishing it I'm still confused. Why do the normal people hate the magical people? Why is she called Wren? ect. I felt like I'd missed a previous book. There were so many subplots that added nothing to the story The pacing was quite slow and not much happened. I didn't like the slight misspelling of magical words I found staying dead boring to be honest. The plot was confusing and unclear and the world building was lacking so I didn't really know what was going on for most the book and even after finishing it I'm still confused. Why do the normal people hate the magical people? Why is she called Wren? ect. I felt like I'd missed a previous book. There were so many subplots that added nothing to the story The pacing was quite slow and not much happened. I didn't like the slight misspelling of magical words wizzart and fatae (that one really annoyed me- I kept misreading it as fates and thought oh cool a bit of greek mythology is about to be incorporated). The characters were pretty bland and I didn't feel like any of them had any particular personality, I didn't really understand the characters reasoning for doing anything and they just felt inconsistent- Wren tells people not to call it magic but then calls it magic in her own head. There's a 'romance' here but I really didn't buy it, and the main characters had lodes of in jokes- it showed that they knew each other well but it reminded me as the reader that I didn't know either of the characters. I didn't like the narrative- it's in close third person, but it almost felt as if it should have been in first person- change the pronouns and it would have been in first person. It was a bit jarring, it's so close to being in first person I'd think I was reading first person narrative and then it would say "she" and I'd be wondering who it was referring to. I guess that might sound like I hated it- I didn't but I was just bored and confused reading it, I nearly gave up and I wish I had given up.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Griffin

    STAYING DEAD, by Laura Anne Gilman, is a fantasy book about a thief named Wren. Wren has the Talent to harness electrical power from her surroundings, and use that energy to fight bad guys while she works as a Retriever of stolen property. Someone has stolen the cornerstone of a very large business building. Wren has been hired to bring it back, but there is a soul locked in the cornerstone, and when that soul gets out, it opens a big can of worms for Wren to peck away at. Who wants her dead? Who STAYING DEAD, by Laura Anne Gilman, is a fantasy book about a thief named Wren. Wren has the Talent to harness electrical power from her surroundings, and use that energy to fight bad guys while she works as a Retriever of stolen property. Someone has stolen the cornerstone of a very large business building. Wren has been hired to bring it back, but there is a soul locked in the cornerstone, and when that soul gets out, it opens a big can of worms for Wren to peck away at. Who wants her dead? Who is actually behind her being hired for the job? It isn’t easy to tell who is on which side of the game. On top of all that, Wren is trying to come to terms with how she really feels about her business partner of 10 years, Sergei. Does she love him or just care deeply? While the plot is great, and the characters are great, there is WAY too much flashback to occurrences that don’t really have anything to do with the story. It’s as if the author used them as filler to lengthen the book. I really enjoyed reading STAYING DEAD, but I hope the following books in the series don’t have all that filler.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Princessjay

    Competently written, albeit completely generic, urban fantasy. Spunky feisty female protagonist: check. Calm and collect male partner with mysterious past: check. Potential romance between the two: check. Magic powered by electrical current: pretty cool. A Council of mages: check. Secret organization that manipulate behind-the-scenes: check. A variety of magic creature blending into the urban landscape: check. Dark hints of things to come: check. Word by word, scene by scene, it is all generic. Plot, cha Competently written, albeit completely generic, urban fantasy. Spunky feisty female protagonist: check. Calm and collect male partner with mysterious past: check. Potential romance between the two: check. Magic powered by electrical current: pretty cool. A Council of mages: check. Secret organization that manipulate behind-the-scenes: check. A variety of magic creature blending into the urban landscape: check. Dark hints of things to come: check. Word by word, scene by scene, it is all generic. Plot, characterization, all. In terms of things happening, not much does. They get a job. They try to complete the job. They do research via computer and mysterious contacts, with loads of take out. Lots and lots and lots of research. And takeout. They meet some complications. They solve complications. The end. Somewhere along the way, they meet a number of villains who I can barely tell apart, whose evil are uncoordinated and barely related, and eventually, so easily dispatched. An unremarkable read, though not entirely boring. Recommend for when stuck at airport, or a doctor's waiting room. Or jail, I guess.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    While in the end I enjoyed this story, as I was reading it, I couldn't always make up my mind. I really enjoy the Sergei storyline and the mystery behind him, and his and Wren's interactions, but something about the story seemed to drag. In some places there is long, drawn out world building that didn't seem entirely relevant (though it may be relevant in future books, I couldn't say), and other story lines were wrapped up really hastily and clumsily. In the end, I'm glad I powered through it an While in the end I enjoyed this story, as I was reading it, I couldn't always make up my mind. I really enjoy the Sergei storyline and the mystery behind him, and his and Wren's interactions, but something about the story seemed to drag. In some places there is long, drawn out world building that didn't seem entirely relevant (though it may be relevant in future books, I couldn't say), and other story lines were wrapped up really hastily and clumsily. In the end, I'm glad I powered through it and can now say that I did like the book, I don't think I liked it enough to continue reading the series. Though I do have to add that the ending leads in to what will probably be a more exciting second book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kenya Wright

    I found the book rather boring and unexciting... The concept of energy was wierd and unimpressive. I found myself not remembering the main character's name or even caring if she died or lived which is a big sign for me that I don't like the book. Additionally, none of the other characters were interesting... It was like I was back in high school reading an urban fantasy book keyed to SAT study. I found the book rather boring and unexciting... The concept of energy was wierd and unimpressive. I found myself not remembering the main character's name or even caring if she died or lived which is a big sign for me that I don't like the book. Additionally, none of the other characters were interesting... It was like I was back in high school reading an urban fantasy book keyed to SAT study.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Fangirl

    I've been reading this book for two evenings no, but I just cannot get into the story. The main character, Wren, doesn't interest me and the case she is working on with her powers is boring. The story might develop later on and become more interesting, but having only limited reading time at the moment, I prefer to move on to something more exciting. I've been reading this book for two evenings no, but I just cannot get into the story. The main character, Wren, doesn't interest me and the case she is working on with her powers is boring. The story might develop later on and become more interesting, but having only limited reading time at the moment, I prefer to move on to something more exciting.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

    3.5 stars, interesting, a little slow paced at times. I like the characters and the world so will read the next one to see what happens

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book sets up a world where Nulls (regular humans) are unaware of those not... humans who can do magic, who can draw on natural and man-made current, and on Cosa - demon like, nature gone wild - like P.B. - a 4 foot BigFoot - white, furry, sharp teeth, likes dead meat... The Council of Mage's want to control all magic people, but there are many Lone________, who stay away from the Council and work independently; and the Silence - a privately funded think tank - righter of wrongs, trying to p This book sets up a world where Nulls (regular humans) are unaware of those not... humans who can do magic, who can draw on natural and man-made current, and on Cosa - demon like, nature gone wild - like P.B. - a 4 foot BigFoot - white, furry, sharp teeth, likes dead meat... The Council of Mage's want to control all magic people, but there are many Lone________, who stay away from the Council and work independently; and the Silence - a privately funded think tank - righter of wrongs, trying to prevent wrong... Sergei worked for them, as a handler - but they'sucked' the life & motivation from him... and the day he met Wren (who saved his life from a mage), is the day he resigned from them... though he still fed them information... And they way Wren uses the current, pulls in the current, understands the current is interesting - sometimes we hear her mentor in her mind walking her through what she needs to do... sometimes it's just the description of what she is doing... nd she fears becoming wizzard - a mage who looses themselves to the current and the feelings it engenders. Wren has advanced powers - ability to use current; and for the last 10 years (since she was 18) she has partnered with Sergei... Sergei runs an art gallery, and he is the one who brokers their deals, and handles the money... and Wren is a retriever - she returns lost, stolen, or wanted items... and the two of them trust each other emphatically... and it doesnt' seem too many others... P.B., of the Cosa, seems to be her friend - he gives her information, even when others are backing off because of fear of the council, and he comes to her when he is injured... and saves her life when shot at... The case, a commercial building built 50+ years ago, is under a protection spell in it's cornerstone block - a protection spell implemented by one of the council (though they disavow it) with the spilling of blood - the killing of the architect of the building, binding his soul into the cornerstone & for the protection and good feeling of those who enter the building... the company president (grandson of he who arranged the spell) is paranoid, tries not to leave the building, and.... the cornerstone was stolen - by a rich man who likes to collect things of magic - and has been manipuled by one of the council to know of the cornerstone... the council wants to 'take it back', and the collector hires one of the council to steal it... Wren and Sergei locate it, and Wren steals it -though it had been damaged, and when she translocated it back to its place she released the spirit of the architect. They won't get their final payment until the spirit is returned... as they are figuring out the ghost angle, the ghost has located the company president and wants his death... Wren gets ther, knows it isn't good for the spirit to take a life - talks it into going back into the cornerstone with the agreement of the companypresident that he will take his place at his own death... the council is thwarted by this - Wren is more their perceived 'enemy'... and The Silence wants Wren - but Wren doesn't know of them or Sergei's past and presnt association with them... he continues to try and protect her from them... he tries to barter himself to keep her out of their hands... but ultimately, he (with her agreement) offers her services for them with restrictions and for their future protection if she needs it to protect her form the council.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    Staying Dead, by Laura Anne Gilman, is an urban fantasy that has a good combination of expected and unexpected to it. The story was comfortable without being horribly predictable. Gilman started with a typical lineup, then put her particular flavor and seasoning on it. In this world, there are not one but two All-Powerful Councils (at least, they think so) who are trying to take care of the world. There are the Talents (magic users) of various flavors, the non-magic using humans, and then everyo Staying Dead, by Laura Anne Gilman, is an urban fantasy that has a good combination of expected and unexpected to it. The story was comfortable without being horribly predictable. Gilman started with a typical lineup, then put her particular flavor and seasoning on it. In this world, there are not one but two All-Powerful Councils (at least, they think so) who are trying to take care of the world. There are the Talents (magic users) of various flavors, the non-magic using humans, and then everyone else (demons, angels, hellhound crosses, etc.). There is a spunky heroine with the sarcastic sense of humor and odd mix of talents whose mother loves her, whose mentor eventually lost it all, whose partner has secrets of his own, etc. etc. The good in the story is how Gilman has picked a theme - a brand of magic (as it were) - and makes it robust enough to encompass all of the kinds of magic use that she wants to describe. Her version of magic relies on electricity to function, and so everything is in terms of current and power. This is not the Harry Dresden “electro-mechanical things don’t work around me” kind of current, but more of the “put your protection spell into the house wiring” version. Gilman also divides up the magic users into the toe-the-line/join-the-club, the lone rangers (for whatever reasons), and those who have become addicted to the raw source of current and have lost control (rather like drug addicts). The book’s biggest flaw is Gilman’s addiction to avoiding names. She likes to describe scenes that are outside of the heroine’s view without names, as though this will make them stay a secret longer, or puzzle the reader as though we were the heroine. It only served to frustrate me, as I wasn’t really sure where I was in the story. At one point Gilman deigned to drop a name, and I had to backtrack halfway back to figure out if I had met that character previously (I had). It was a tad frustrating, and quite unnecessary. The heroine’s humor, and her emotional angst, are well done but not overdone. Gilman gives her the character depth of anxieties and deep thought as well as temper tantrums and sarcasm. Part of humor is timing, and despite being an anecdote inside of the story, the method of how one of the character’s names is introduced as a snap-crack at a passerby hit my funny bone straight on. The thought of polar bears in New York just made me giggle. It was almost a classic Anita Blake line, or a Diana Tregarde one, if she were to swear like that. Deep? No. Fun? Yes. I’ll recommend this one for beach bag reading. It’s long (411 pages in paperback) but a fast reading with big print.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Estara

    It is interesting to see how much better plot development and consistency are in the Bonnita Torres books compared to the first Cosa Nostradamus books. The hints of fun characters are still there, but they're awkwardly paced, for my money and while the Torres books have still some problems with tell not show, here it is much worse for my taste. Wren is set up as such an uberelite Retriever in the eyes of her partner and everyone else (they say she is and everyone agrees) but you never see her be It is interesting to see how much better plot development and consistency are in the Bonnita Torres books compared to the first Cosa Nostradamus books. The hints of fun characters are still there, but they're awkwardly paced, for my money and while the Torres books have still some problems with tell not show, here it is much worse for my taste. Wren is set up as such an uberelite Retriever in the eyes of her partner and everyone else (they say she is and everyone agrees) but you never see her be competent in the real big heist situations - as soon as something captures her interest she screws up her own plan (sometimes even reminding herself how stupid that is) and then has to scramble to get out alive and deal with the consequences. What was she doing, taste-testing that artifact she hadn't been sent for? Why does she get away with promising a wrongly murdered ghost his revenge, when she actually has no power to enforce this and she supposedly has no problem with people dying and killing as long as she and her small sphere of interest are safe? Either not bother or follow-up and let the ghost have revenge - she even leaves the abused women in the clutches of the direct evil guy. In short, she behaves like a 16-year old impulsive teenager - and I can't believe she lived that long. And why the HUGE build-up of dread regarding Sergei's old crowd, when at the end they don't mind to much working for them - after all "they usually do good". Well, some money saved for me. I'll be buying the Torres books (where some of the bits of how the world work have been changed, incidentally ^^).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jai

    The book starts with Wren beginning a job. The client is missing the cornerstone of their building and Wren has been tasked to find it. The book goes straight into the story as if the reader has had some background from some prequel story. While I liked being considered smart enough to figure it out, and I did figure it out, I still wish that I knew their backstory earlier on in the book. I'm afraid that not knowing for as long as I was made the book boring at first. I thought the first couple o The book starts with Wren beginning a job. The client is missing the cornerstone of their building and Wren has been tasked to find it. The book goes straight into the story as if the reader has had some background from some prequel story. While I liked being considered smart enough to figure it out, and I did figure it out, I still wish that I knew their backstory earlier on in the book. I'm afraid that not knowing for as long as I was made the book boring at first. I thought the first couple of pages started off promising but then not really being filled in after that started to grate on me. It was after I picked the book up again and kept reading and got about 150 pages in that the book finally picked up. By then I understood who I was reading about. To me to me the most interesting part of the book was Wren and Sergei. It reminds me of Moonlighting, Remington Steele and The X-Files. Two people partnered together who you know are both secretly in love with the other but who deny it to themselves the whole time. I don't think I've read a book with a partnership so in tune and comfortable with each other (yet blind) in a really long time. More detailed review here - http://janicu.livejournal.com/25640.html

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nessie Smith

    I liked the main plot ...somewhat but it was all over the place jumping here then there than way left field. Like the author is trying to fit 1000 page book into half that and get away with it. Or just crappy writing with no clear path. Plus the romance was WAY to cliché. Seriously all of a sudden she loves him? And she realizes this After he lied to her their whole 10 yrs of being partners? Feeding information she told him unknowing that he turned around and told his old group. and all in very I liked the main plot ...somewhat but it was all over the place jumping here then there than way left field. Like the author is trying to fit 1000 page book into half that and get away with it. Or just crappy writing with no clear path. Plus the romance was WAY to cliché. Seriously all of a sudden she loves him? And she realizes this After he lied to her their whole 10 yrs of being partners? Feeding information she told him unknowing that he turned around and told his old group. and all in very short amount of time she forgives him in 1 paragraph so its not believeable at all. But to realize you love someone after betraying u like that and want them even more is just sick and doesn't follow any reasoning. So Im here to advise you not to read the book, even the main character cries to much, says how she is really strong with the current but the action is very dull. She doesn't even deal with the vigilante group that is going around tormenting and killing things that aren't human. It just gets taken care at the end by the council, which is another thing in this book that is just to lame to even speak about. This book would make a great way to start a fire in the fireplace during winter, other than that theres not much use for this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    chucklesthescot

    I really liked the sound of this one. On the plus side, it has a great cover, and the idea of the story I thought was quite clever. It had a lot of potential as a story. and it shows the imagination of the author. So it is not 'bad' as in a terrible book or bad writing. There wasn't anything greatly wrong with it in the grand scheme of things, just not my thing.. I just found it too slow and descriptive. There is a lot of complex description where something short and sharp would have done the tri I really liked the sound of this one. On the plus side, it has a great cover, and the idea of the story I thought was quite clever. It had a lot of potential as a story. and it shows the imagination of the author. So it is not 'bad' as in a terrible book or bad writing. There wasn't anything greatly wrong with it in the grand scheme of things, just not my thing.. I just found it too slow and descriptive. There is a lot of complex description where something short and sharp would have done the trick. I hate to get swamped by detail as it slows the plot too much for me. There was a lot of tell in the book, especially telling us what reaction we should be having to something. I want the author to show and describe things, and if she does this well, I'll see it myself. Instead I find the tell a bit constricting and it didn't help to pull me into the book the way I wanted. I also didn't really connect with the characters. As I wasn't invested in the plot, it's hard to tell if it was just my reaction to this or if the characters were underdeveloped. Just not for me I'm afraid!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    While I was reading this book, I got interrupted by a book I had reserved from the library coming in (because they never come in until you are in the middle of another book). I set this one down to read the library book, which should have been my first sign. Then another book I had reserved came in, so I put off picking this book back up to read the second library book. Sign number two. By the time I finally picked Staying Dead back up, I found it hard to make myself finish. For some reason, I j While I was reading this book, I got interrupted by a book I had reserved from the library coming in (because they never come in until you are in the middle of another book). I set this one down to read the library book, which should have been my first sign. Then another book I had reserved came in, so I put off picking this book back up to read the second library book. Sign number two. By the time I finally picked Staying Dead back up, I found it hard to make myself finish. For some reason, I just couldn't get into the book. The characters didn't seem to have enough depth, which made me not really care about the would they/won't they dynamic or any dangerous situation they might get themselves into. Maybe I needed more back story? I'm not really sure. All I know is that by the time I was getting to the end, I was more concerned about what I was going to read next than how the book was going to end. And there we have sign number three, and the book ended up in my pile to trade in at the used book store.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Boyd

    Wren is a Retriever, someone who finds stolen items and returns them to their rightful owner. She uses magic, called Current by practitioners, to help. Sergei is her human partner. When they take an assignment to track down what feels like a small theft they are surprised at just what kind of trouble they run into. The author built up a complex world in modern day New York with lots of characters. I found it more annoying and confusing than enjoyable, probably because I felt every other page was Wren is a Retriever, someone who finds stolen items and returns them to their rightful owner. She uses magic, called Current by practitioners, to help. Sergei is her human partner. When they take an assignment to track down what feels like a small theft they are surprised at just what kind of trouble they run into. The author built up a complex world in modern day New York with lots of characters. I found it more annoying and confusing than enjoyable, probably because I felt every other page was an information dump. I liked the character of PB and wish we would have spent more time with him. Did not like the fact that she kept including history which made you feel like you'd missed a book or three prior to this one. Overall, a so-so paranormal that would have been helped by the author concentrating on plot and characterization and relaxing regarding world building.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    So, if you look at my shelves (especially urban fantasy), you'll see that I'm not too proud to read some silly-looking genre fiction. Give me a strong female detective/private eye with some magic(k)al abilities in a world full of demons and fae, and I'm yours for a few books, at LEAST. But this one... well, Wren is no Rachel Morgan, and Gilman's no Kim Harrison. Or Seanan McGuire. Or Charlaine Harris, for pete's sake. This book is the first in the series, but the author repeatedly referenced past So, if you look at my shelves (especially urban fantasy), you'll see that I'm not too proud to read some silly-looking genre fiction. Give me a strong female detective/private eye with some magic(k)al abilities in a world full of demons and fae, and I'm yours for a few books, at LEAST. But this one... well, Wren is no Rachel Morgan, and Gilman's no Kim Harrison. Or Seanan McGuire. Or Charlaine Harris, for pete's sake. This book is the first in the series, but the author repeatedly referenced past events that made it feel like I was jumping into the series several stories in. The romance fell flat - no tension beforehand, no sparks, no will-they-or-won't-they. The main whodunit of the plot ran to its conclusion fairly predictably, without any real twists or turns to keep you engaged. All in all, this gets an Aunt Becky GAHHHHHHHHH and MEHHHHHHHHH and an OH BROTHER.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anoolka

    Techinically there is nothing very wrong with this book, and yet it's dragging and I'm not sure I'll finish it. Maybe it's the style, or the okayish but not fascinating characters. Or the fact that the plot is slow going. I do like the worldbuilding, though some info dumps are a little too much at once/too boring. There's a lot of our duo sitting and talking and researching. Perhaps if they had more interesting voices and better dialogue I wouldn't have minded the slow pace. 2/3 in. ETA: finished Techinically there is nothing very wrong with this book, and yet it's dragging and I'm not sure I'll finish it. Maybe it's the style, or the okayish but not fascinating characters. Or the fact that the plot is slow going. I do like the worldbuilding, though some info dumps are a little too much at once/too boring. There's a lot of our duo sitting and talking and researching. Perhaps if they had more interesting voices and better dialogue I wouldn't have minded the slow pace. 2/3 in. ETA: finished, but skipped a lot in the last third. Wont be picking up the next book in the series - it's just not interesting, not the plot, not the characters, not the writing style.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    There are some books that I find so engrossing that I will snatch another paragraph or two at every red stoplight I encounter. I carry those books with me everywhere I go, taking every opportunity to read just a few words more until I am done. The kind of books where "Just one more chapter..." turns into 4 a.m. in the blink of an eye. This was not one of those books. The main story plot was boring, the characters lacked any spark of anything closely resembling charisma, and the romantic thread l There are some books that I find so engrossing that I will snatch another paragraph or two at every red stoplight I encounter. I carry those books with me everywhere I go, taking every opportunity to read just a few words more until I am done. The kind of books where "Just one more chapter..." turns into 4 a.m. in the blink of an eye. This was not one of those books. The main story plot was boring, the characters lacked any spark of anything closely resembling charisma, and the romantic thread left me yawning. I do not feel inclined to read any more of this series and that is pretty much all I have to say about this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Romine

    This was my first foray into the world of urban fantasy. Unfortunately, I was horribly disappointed. The plot sounded interested but the development of the story was painfully slow. I truly struggled to get through this book as very little happened over a very long period of time. To make a painful situation even more torturous, I found the writing choppy and disjointed. There were numerous times I had to reread a paragraph, which rarely increased my understanding of the what the author was atte This was my first foray into the world of urban fantasy. Unfortunately, I was horribly disappointed. The plot sounded interested but the development of the story was painfully slow. I truly struggled to get through this book as very little happened over a very long period of time. To make a painful situation even more torturous, I found the writing choppy and disjointed. There were numerous times I had to reread a paragraph, which rarely increased my understanding of the what the author was attempting to communicate. I really wanted to like this book, but it was dull.

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