Working stiff (Revivalist novels)

Working stiff / Rachel Caine

The most disturbing book I have ever read was Maxime Chattam’s Prédateurs. Rachel Caine’s Revivalist trilogy comes in second.

Also, it’s a romance?

Plot summary (in which a first chapter plot twist is revealed)

Bryn David, ex-military, is the new funeral home director at a fancy (possibly Californian*) funeral home.

Unfortunately for her, after discovering that her new employer is selling a mysterious drug out of the basement. After being murdered to keep the secret she discovers that she has been brought back from the dead by the drug, but there’s a catch: if she doesn’t get a fresh injection every 24 hours, her body will start to rot.

Joining up with the dashing Patrick McAllister, Bryn must now fight back against a major pharmaceutical company’s sinister plans while trying to find a cure for her condition.

*whaaaa? To get there, you gotta take the 405 to the Brigadoon and them take a u-turn to get on I-96 to go past Plaga Arroyo and then you head west on the North-South tollway. /joke

So how is it?

Disturbing, but not consistently so. There’s some over the top action and some graphic violence, but the way the people who go without their injections start to decompose while still fully conscious is the part that almost made me give up on the series. There’s a reveal towards the end of the first book that was especially hard to take.

I did read all three, and they are interesting for the way they don’t use many of the traditional urban fantay trappings. There’s no magic, no paranormal activity of any kind. It’s all about the nanites here (which amounts to the same thing but at least it’s not another vampire book).

At its core, Working stiff is a slow building zombie story where the zombies are fully conscious “living” things. Most of the classic zombie tropes appear at some point, but each one gets enough of a twist that the series does feel unique.

It’s an interesting series but not for the easily disturbed. 

Below I reveal a later plot twist so skip the next sentence if you want to be surprised

It says something, either about the series or about my own weirdness, that the introduction of the “flesh eating ravenous cannibals who are compelled to spread their affliction” was a relief because cannibalism in protagonists is less disturbing than other things that were going on.

(Yeah that was a long sentence)


Because of how disturbing I found it it’s not a book I’m likely to recommend. If I did, it would pretty much only be to people who enjoy both paranormal romance and incredibly violent horror movies. Fans of Antichrist could certainly handle this (although it lacks the “arty” aspects). 

The only time I’d recommend it is for fans of Nalini Singh, who seems to do the hardcore horror/romance genre blending fairy well.

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