” Staying Dead” is the first book in an Urban Fantasy series. It has a lot of the right elements for success: originalish magics, sassy heroine, creepy baddy and lots of foreboding but, about a third of the way through I wasn’t sure I’d continue.
The opening assumes an engagement with what happens to Wren, the magic-using thief, that I just wasn’t feeling.
Things got better at about the half-way mark as the world-building and plot complexity ratcheted up with the introduction of a powerful secret society and more focus on how Wren came to be where she is.
There are some good action scenes, a wide variety of players, some intriguing rules for using magic and, in the end, I quite liked Wren and her partner. The novel does have a plot with reaches a spectacular, violent but clever resolution but on the whole it felt like a series Pilot, loaded with more that-could-be-interesting ooh-what-will-they-do-with-that stuff that the plot itself could sustain. It reminded me a little of Jim Butcher’s first Harry Dresden book, “Storm Front” so I’m hoping there are good things to come.
A couple of things distracted me. Firstly the names. I still don’t know what the title means? Perhaps the publishers thought it up to sound noirish? And the series title, “A Retriever Novel” gives me images of dopy dogs fetching tennis balls. And the secret society is called “The Silence” which is the sort of name I associate with 1970’s college bands that used a Moog and released concept albums with a straight face.
Secondly, the formatting of the ebook is careless. Laura Anne Gilman uses a lot of sub-chapter shifts in point of view and action which I think work well but there is nothing in the layout to tell you when a shift is happening. How hard would it have been to add a few blank lines between shifts? Not doing it seems disrespectful to both writer and reader.
I’ve bought the next book in the series because I’m hoping that I’ve found something good here that just got off to a slow start.