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Staying Dead (Retrievers #1)

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,000 Ratings  ·  168 Reviews

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 i

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published (first published August 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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⊱ Irena ⊰
Mar 19, 2016 ⊱ Irena ⊰ rated it really liked it

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
Bridgette Redman
Dec 04, 2013 Bridgette Redman rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
Brad Foley
Jul 06, 2013 Brad Foley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 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 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 ...more
Sep 28, 2012 Ithlilian marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
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 ...more
Apr 02, 2011 Krissy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
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 ...more
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
Nov 10, 2007 Seth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-f-h, modernfantasy
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
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
Dec 19, 2011 Mel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 ...more
Kenya Wright
Jun 06, 2010 Kenya Wright rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody who likes to be enetertained!
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.
Mar 16, 2015 Claire rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2012 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
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 ...more
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 ...more
May 06, 2012 Estara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Estara by: I liked the PI series by the author and this is the same worldbuilding
Shelves: ebook, read-in-2012
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
Janice (Janicu)
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 ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maggie Boyd
Nov 21, 2013 Maggie Boyd rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
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
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 ...more
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
Aug 06, 2011 Fangirl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
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 liked the story/plot... But for some reason the book was boring... I usually like to read a book straight up. No pauses if possible. This book forced me to take a nap! I'm close to saying I don't like it but in the last few chapters it finally picked up. Ha! Anyway... I will put the next book in my to-read. Hopefully the series gets better there.
It was so hard to get into his book. I think I enjoyed the last three chapters, but it's difficult to remember because I put the book down so many times. It was very easy to be distracted from this book, sadly; I wanted very. Much to like it more than I did. I did appreciate a couple things, however. One was the subtle romance. It wasn't there to distract either of the MC's from getting things done. Oh sure, there were some distracted moments, but it wasn't like lust made them blind to everythin ...more
Nov 08, 2012 amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There was nothing that really sparked my imagination in this read and it was a struggle to get through. I didn't feel any chemistry, and the writing felt like I was just reading it, not living it along with the characters.
Jul 22, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 29, 2014 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a series recommended by Goodreads. It's worth buying the whole set, but check out the first book to make sure it's up your alley!

The main characters are attracted to each other, as they should be - the series is enhanced by their ever changing relationship and chemistry.

The female lead has abilities that help her locate missing stuff, which the series throws in for a pretty good side-story. The main stuff is secret societies and politics, which thankfully don't dominate the story! Poli
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By the time she was fourteen, Laura Anne Gilman knew she would be an editor, a teacher, or a writer.

By thirty, she was all three. She's a little focused that way (when not being distracted by -oooh shiny!).

After fifteen years working in NY publishing, Laura Anne became a full-time writer, with more than twenty novels under her various bylines, including the SILVER ON THE ROAD, the Nebula Award-nom
More about Laura Anne Gilman...

Other Books in the Series

Retrievers (8 books)
  • Curse the Dark (Retrievers, #2)
  • Bring It On (Retrievers, #3)
  • Overrush
  • Burning Bridges (Retrievers, #4)
  • Free Fall (Retrievers, #5)
  • Blood from Stone (Retrievers, #6)
  • Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives

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“You couldn't get that much under someone's skin, that much in their blood, and not know exactly how to hurt them, even without trying.” 3 likes
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