Author: Rachel Caine
 Revivalist #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Allison & Busby
Pages: 473
Published: October 2011
Source: Review copy from publisher
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First sentence:

Bryn’s first embalming instructor had told her, straight up, that two kinds of people entered the death business: freaks and true believers.

Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn’t the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment–until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele as part of an extortion racket. Now, Bryn faces being terminated–literally, and with extreme prejudice.

With the help of corporate double-agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem–pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She’d better do it fast, before she becomes a zombie slave–a real working stiff. She’d be better off dead…


Working Stiff is yet another in a stream of novels recently that has gripped me in so tightly that I simply couldn’t put it down and finished it in just a few days without even realising how quickly I was reading. The main thing I took notice of about this book is that it isn’t a zombie novel in the traditional sense, in fact, the only thing that made this a zombie novel is that Bryn is a reanimated corpse. There are others like her as well, but they live just like normal human beings, or as close as you can get when a private corporation is keeping you on a tight leash and would rather see you rot than keep you alive, the only catch is that they are dead and must receive daily shots of this drug – Returné – to keep alive else they horribly and painfully decay. But there is no mindless staggering to find brains to eat at any cost, just a desperate struggle to remain alive when all but two, maybe three, people would rather you be otherwise. With all of that considered and the fast-paced action inbetween as they find a way to not only keep Bryn going with regular shots but also attempt to take down the company that they are owned by, who watch their every move, Working Stiff is most definitely an urban fantasy. And a damn good one at that.

I am fast becoming a Rachel Caine fangirl. I have now read three of her books and I have devoured each and every one. She is a genius at creating delightfully ordinary characters and thoroughly unique stories which are easy to read with just a sprinkling of humour and plenty of energy. This is exactly what I look for when I look for my next good read and Working Stiff has it down to a tee.

I was immediately drawn in by Bryn and how very like you and me she is. It begins with her first day working at Fairview Mortuary and her nervousness towards trying to impress her new boss and that her cheap clothes would make her stand out too much in such a rich person’s environment. She is so very human and in some ways that makes her the perfect candidate to become a zombie because rather than forgetting what she is, you see her humanity shining through. She has a crazy, but loving, family and a brilliant bulldog called Mr French who might be one of my favourite characters of all time, though I did wonder what became of him in the last part of the novel. Joe Fideli is a warm and funny character with skills aplenty and a wife and kids, and Patrick McCallister is the kind of character that you slowly warm to throughout the story, not really letting on anything about himself until much later on. There are some nasty bad guys to hate, heart-pumping, tense scenes to keep you on the edge of your seat (or wherever you happen to be reading), and some horrid situations that are pretty upsetting, and I have only the utmost respect for any author that can make me feel strong emotions. Rachel Caine has created a very believable story in Working Stiff that shall be going on my ‘to re-read and recommend’ pile.

Honestly, if you don’t tend to enjoy adult urban fantasy then I doubt this will be for you, but on the other hand if you are a fan of unique, dark stories with sympathetic heroines then read Working Stiff. If you also happen to enjoy the odd crime novel on the side, I have a feeling this will be right up your street. Personally, I don’t, but it is an excellent urban fantasy.


Allison & Busby have kindly offered to give away 5 copies of Working Stiff to you guys! UK only, sorry, but if you have a UK mailing address, make sure you don’t miss it. Click on the ‘read more’ link for the Rafflecopter form.