Cover Image: The Undertakers

The Undertakers

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

As always, Nicole.Glover does not disappoint. This is such a great little historical mystery esque series. And while.its certainly not cozy per se, there is something so comforting about Benjy and Hetty—Henjy? Betty?
Was this review helpful?
Was this review helpful?
The Undertakers brought gs us back into this magical world and I loved every second! What a sequel! I am floored again by Nicole's ability to mix mystery, history, and fantasy.
Was this review helpful?
A great sequel that builds on the first book. I cannot wait for the next one! I hope there is another one because if not, that’s one hell of a way to end a book!
Was this review helpful?
The Undertakers is the second book in the historical fantasy series by Nicole Glover. Released 9th Nov 2021 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on their Mariner imprint, it's 448 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is an engaging historical fantasy with a large cast of characters and an interesting and well built magical background system. I enjoyed the storytelling and the author is exceedingly adept at historical background and verisimilitude. She really brings 19th century Philadelphia and the social structure of the time and place to life. I was less immersed in the actual mystery which was easily solved and telegraphed fairly clearly, but the story itself is well told and worthwhile. I found my attention wandering during the read because of the very choppy nature of the scene cuts however. I also found myself distressed and angry throughout a significant portion of the read due to the historically accurate and pervasive casual racism and sexism.

The unabridged audiobook has a run time of 14 hours and 36 minutes and is capably narrated by Bahni Turpin. She does a good job defining the characters and keeping them distinct from one another. There were a few places in the dialogue where I had to listen a couple of times to figure out which character was talking, but overall it's a really well narrated audiobook. The sound and production quality are high throughout. 

Four stars. Recommended for fans of historical fantasy mysteries. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
Was this review helpful?
DNF at 45%

Many thanks to NetGalley and Mariner Books for the early copy. All opinions are my own!

While I really loved the first book, I was struggling with this one. I feel the mystery of the first novel wasn't there, and I wasn't interested in the characters anymore. At 45%, where I stopped reading, I feel like the plot hadn't moved forward at all. One person died at like 40%, and they were still wishy washy about investigating the death that may be connected. 

I just didn't feel like the book was very similar to the first one. As mentioned above, I really loved the first one, and this one was disappointing.
Was this review helpful?
This book was, overall, disappointing. I said in my review of *The Conductors* that “the mystery was engaging, the magic interesting, and the characters great.” The sequel? The mystery was disjointed and poorly revealed. The magic wasn’t well used, and was explained either too much or too little. And Hetty and Benjy, who had humanzing flaws in book 1, felt like over-competent Mary Sues.

The central mystery of the book wasn’t well-handled. I was never clear on what, exactly, they were investigating, and parts of the dramatic tension felt extremely contrived. A non-spoiler example: a character was killed off-screen before the book began. Hetty & Benjy concluded it was the work of a White fire company, of the “very nice, flammable place you have here. Be a shame if anything happened to it. Care to make a donation to the Firemen’s Ball?” variety. They both had a gut feeling there was more to it, but they called it “case closed” and were annoyed at a mutual friend of theirs’ and the deceased who pressed them to keep digging. Fine for a world-weary, jaded cop three days from retirement. Totally out of character for Hetty or Benjy, from this book or the previous one. There are other examples of the same thing: Hetty and Benjy acting out of character for no reason I could see other than to raise the dramatic tension. A character holding the idiot ball always makes for annoying reading.

The villain is a former slave who worked for bounty hunters chasing runaways in the days before the Civil War. Hetty and Benjy had some run-ins with him, and he particularly has it in for Hetty. We’re often told how vicious he is (emphasis on “told”). There is no actual menace from him; we readers are just assured that it is there.

As far as the magical elements: something Brandon Sanderson articulated very well a number of years ago was the direct relationship between how frequently magic is used and how thoroughly it needs to be explained. It’s fine for Kaladin to use Stormlight all the time, because we readers understand what it can and cannot do and Sanderson keeps within those limits. On the other end of the spectrum, the magic of ASOIAF is left mysterious; if Melisandre or Thoros of Myr were to bust out with a Magic Missile for 1d4+1 damage (plus an extra missile per two caster levels) it … wouldn't work. The magic in this book falls right into this trap: it's used all the time, for purposes both fantastic and mundane, but I have no real sense of what the limits are on what it can and cannot do. It's a recipe for frequent deus ex machina.

Last point I want to touch on is Hetty and Benjy themselves, whom I called hypercompetent earlier. Benjy, for example, is a very skilled blacksmith; he is good with magic (he has some weaknesses there, which match very tidily to Hetty's strengths); he can play the piano beautifully; he is a voracious reader; he solves complex mathematical puzzles for fun; he has a powerful command of the stage as an actor; he is a champion boxer; he can pilot a hot air balloon. Hetty is similarly multitalented. Bluntly, it feels like there isn't anything they could fail at if they chose to try to do it. (As I write this, I'm realizing that this and the stuff I said about magic earlier probably explains the sources of drama feeling so contrived.)

Overall a disappointing read for me. I probably won't pick up Nicole Glover again without some solid reviews convincing me it's worth it.
Was this review helpful?
I had a much harder time getting into this one than the first book in this series.  I found this one more scattered and less focused and didn't really get into it until almost 3/4 of the way through.
Was this review helpful?
This is the sequel to The Conductors. This is filled with the same historical fantasy elements as the first book. Great sequel!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the eGalley. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
This is the first book that I have in the Magic and Murder series. However, I could follow it easily. I like the main characters. I liked how the book was a mix of history, fantasy, and mystery. The things I did not like about this book was it could focus more on the world-building for it was a little confusing. The second thing I did not like was that the mystery was very predictable. Still, it was very fast-paced and well-written! I look forward to reading the first book of the novel, and I believe that this is a promising series!
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed learning about Hetty and Benjy's characters and history more, but the mystery and sub-plots in this one just weren't all that interesting to follow.
Was this review helpful?
The first book in this series was brilliant and I loved the mix of alternate history, mystery, and fantasy.
This one was another riveting and gripping read.
Excellent storytelling and world building, good character development.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Was this review helpful?
Quite disappointed with this sequel. I really enjoyed The Conductors but this didn't really live up to it. The Conductors was a bit of a slow mystery but this one was sooo slow. Like investigating the mystery didn't really start until 200 pages in. I also found the mystery itself a little confusing and all over the place. It did all come together in the end but there wasnt really any satisfying reveals. I think there was a lack of tension build up.

In saying all that, I still really enjoy the world and setting. Its really cool being in this faux historical time period. It's also so rare to read a book where all the characters are black unless stated otherwise. I also love the characters, they are fleshed out but I still want more of them. I think I would like multiple POV.

I will still continue reading the series if there are other books. Sophomore books can often be hard especially when the debut was so good.
Was this review helpful?
I love this series so much! Nicole Glover has come with a strong sequel to The Conductors with the same high-stakes mystery and intricate magic as her debut. In The Undertakers, we get to know Hettie and Benjy even more as well as some of the beloved side characters from the first book. The mystery they must solve is even more complicated than in the first book with mysterious fires, white gangs, stolen magic contraband, and a nemesis from Hettie's past intent on murdering her. A lot happens in this book and it still has the same structure with flashbacks to relevant stories from Hettie and Benjy's past as conductors on the Underground Railroad. The book was a little slow in the middle but then it picks up for a truly spectacular ending. I truly cannot wait for the next book in this series! It has one of the best magic systems I have ever read.
Was this review helpful?
thank you netgalley and the publisher for the copy of this book. it was okay but no more that that. it didn't grip me in a way that it would hold me until the end of the book. i just lost interest halfway
Was this review helpful?
Marvelous. This fiction is rich in atmosphere snd was a great escape read. 
Many thanks to Mariner Books and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
Revised review. After loving book one. I unfortunately lost interest in this one. As much as I loved the characters, I lost interest here. I appreciated what the author is trying to do. This series however no longer works for me. It may work for someone else though. I’m
Was this review helpful?
I really thought the first book in this series was excellent, and the follow up did not disappoint at all. Glover is a very talented writer with a lot of great ideas and is now solidly on my radar as a career to watch.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy!
Was this review helpful?
Thanks so much to Mariner Books and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I've gotten this arc before ever reading the first book. When I got to dive into the world, I love it. I love the characters. I love Hettie and Benjy and their marriage of convenience. I love the mix of historical fiction and fantasy. I love it. 

So I was so excited to get into the second book, but when I get to it, sadly, it fell flat for me. It took so long to get into the plot and when we get to the climax, everything was fixed immediately. 

However, I'm still excited to see more!
Was this review helpful?
I dunno how to rate this one. It felt like a lot of filler and the mystery was very easily wrapped up. Which is disappointing because I absolutely adored the first one, but this one felt like much the same story but longer and more convoluted (and quickly solved).

I did, however, appreciate the sheer amount of research that went into this book (Glover has this incredible talent for bringing 19th century Philadelphia to life), and I loved the queer inclusion spread so thoroughly through it.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
Was this review helpful?