STAYING DEAD

Author(s): 

Wren Valere is a Retriever. She finds things that have gone missing and brings them back, no questions asked. She's good at her job, aided by her friend and partner Sergei, as well as her magical talent for manipulating electrical currents. Their most recent job, however, has some unexpected complications. A protective spell is stolen from a major high-rise, and the Trump-like owner wants it back; the thief is proving all but untraceable, and when the spell is broken, a vengeful ghost bent on retribution is freed.

This tale may remind the reader of the TV show Moonlighting, but with magic. Opposites Wren and Sergei are a great team, and they obviously feel much more for each other than either is willing to admit. Their differences are perhaps a bit overstated: Wren is sarcastic and defensive, Sergei is smoothly urbane. Wren is talented, Sergei is not. Sergei is a snappy dresser, and Wren lives in sweats. The characters are saved from stereotyping, however, by Gilman's clever plotting and witty dialogue (although the "will they or won't they" aspect may become tiring if it continues much longer).

Gilman has created a clever and unique theory about magical talent that can be directed through electrical currents, as well as invented a frightening group of wizards to control it. Suspenseful and entertaining, this is a worthy addition to the growing library of urban fantasy lit, and a great way to kick off a potential blockbuster of a series. (Aug., 352 pp., $13.95)
Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum