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Reading Log: Staying Dead


I think I found Laura Anne Gilman's Staying Dead as a recommendation from Amazon based on my other choices. It falls along the same lines as the Hamilton, Harrison, Harris books (and the author's name begins with a "G" instead of "H"!)--we have a heroine who has an unusual, perhaps magical, skill that gets her into and/or causes more adventures than the average person would normally see. Genevieve Valere (Wren), is a Retriever, someone with magical Talent, who freelances finding and retrieving missing objects. Her partner, Sergei, is an attractive art gallery owner who finds Wren the gigs.

The main job in this novel is to retrieve the cornerstone of a building that was stolen via magic. What Wren and Sergei don't know going into the job is that the cornerstone has a spell in it that must also be retrieved as part of the deal. More interesting characters show up, such as the fatae, creatures who would probably be just as at home in a Charles de Lint novel. I'm not sure there's ever a real definition of fatae, but they seem to be closely associated with the faerie realm. There are also several varieties of demons, one of whom is a frequent informant for Wren. Then we have the Cosa Nostradamus, the Mage Council who seem to have control over most people with Talent, though there are several like Wren who are considered lonejacks because they work outside of the Council's control. And we also discover that Sergei, while not a Talent, has his own secret society, the Silence, a collective that attempts to keep the balance between things magical and non. I'm still fuzzy on exactly what the Silence is, which I think is a deliberate maneuver on Gilman's part; we'll definitely see them in future novels.

And since my previous entry was about fantasy novels and prejudice, it exists in Gilman's world as well. The fatae are being attacked by an extremist hate group (here I think of people like Jim Phelps and abortion clinic bombers), the Cosa not helping because they don't really hold the in any regard, high or otherwise. Even Sergei has his own set of biases; he can barely tolerate Wren's demon informant, P.B. We haven't gotten to the point where Wren has to make a decision about Sergei based on whether he can accept Wren's relationships with demons and other non-human creatures, but I wouldn't be surprised if that comes further down the road.

I will definitely be reading more of Gilman's Retrievers (besides goldens) series, but at the moment there are only two more in the series. I just ordered the rest of the Anita Blake books that are currently in paperback, so that will keep me set for, oh, 7-10 days (they really are quick reads, especially if you don't/won't/can't put them down). I might also go poking around in some of the used bookstores to see if there are any other Gilman fans who might have relinquished their copies. Besides, it will be a break to read a third-person narrative after all of the first-person I'll get through Hamilton.