Review: Working Stiff (Revivalist #1) by Rachel Caine

Working Stiff (Revivalist #1) by Rachel Caine
 Penguin Group/2011
Urban Fantasy
Revivalist Series
Amazon|Barnes and Noble

Bryn Davis was killed on the job after discovering her bosses were selling a drug designed to resurrect the dead. Now, revived by that same drug, she becomes an undead soldier in a corporate war to take down the very pharmaceutical company responsible for her new condition…

I’m a big fan of Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series and of course, her Morganville Vampire Series, so when I found out she had a brandy new one coming out, I was very excited! Working Stiff is a big departure from her other series. There’s not a bit of magic to be found, for one, and it definitely veers into light sci-fi territory (which is totally cool with me.) Bryn Davis is a 26 year old Iraqi War vet who takes a job as a funeral director, a job that doesn’t suit many, but since the dead don’t bother her, she thinks it might be a good fit. If the owner seems a bit off, and there’s a creep working as the downstairs man, well, Bryn’s no stranger to handling herself, so no big deal, right? Things seem to be going along alright until she’s held at gunpoint by an unknown intruder and realizes that there might be a lot more going on at Fairview then just funerals. During the melee, Bryn is suffocated to death, and resurrected using a highly valuable new drug involving nanotechnology. She’s not a zombie, she’s just in a permanent state of stasis, that must be maintained by the drug. She’s immediately recruited by Pharmadene to help them find out who’s been supplying the drug to the funeral home. If she doesn’t help them, her supply of the drug that’s keeping her alive will be cut off, and she needs a shot every day. Can you imagine it? If she doesn’t get her shot, she will begin to decompose and eventually, die. Yeah, not a pretty thought, and one that Bryn gets very close and personal to at one point in the book.

Ms. Caine spends much of the first half of Working Stiff setting up Bryn’s world. I really enjoyed the fact that Bryn, who certainly knows her way around a gun, and combat, from the military, she’s not a superhuman chick. In fact, she’s very, very human, and her new condition highlights that even more. There are two men helping her in her mission for Pharmadene; Joe Fideli and Patrick McCallister. They both have their own agendas separate from Pharmadene, and at first, Bryn is unsure of who she can trust. Don’t worry, she’ll soon learn, and her attraction to McCallister made for a nice little emotional push and pull that lasted the length of the book. Working Stiff reminded me a bit of early Dean Koontz (this is a good thing.) It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, but if you know his work, you might know what I mean. There’s plenty of action and things really kick into high gear (seriously, she brings the awesome) in the second half. It didn’t emotionally engage me like the Weather Wardens, but it’s a completely different novel. I like Bryn,and I’ll look forward to seeing where Ms.Caine takes her. Working Stiff is a fun start to a brand new series!

Working Stiff (Revivalist, #1)


  1. I love Dean Koontz but never really connected with Rachel’s Weather Warden series so I think I will give this a go! I like a sci-fi twist on the zombie genre too…seems more realistic somehow! 🙂

  2. Hmmm, thanks for this review. I like the sounds here and a very good start to a new series. And for some reason I think I missed it was a sci fi type read, but that works even better for me. 🙂 Thanks!

  3. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the series. It provides a great twist to the ‘zombie’ concept. More importantly, I could relate to Bryns struggle to cope what has happened to her. Loved the blooming relationship between Bryn and Pat (even if its borderline necrophelia). Also provided plenty of mystery and action sequences.

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