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The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal

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One night, while performing the usual rituals that a Sister of the Good Death performs in a cemetery, Maeve notices something strange. Is what she saw a ghost, something then that must be mercifully sent to its final resting place, or a living creature? Neither, because Imogen is indeed a ghost, but, in an act of possession, she has returned to possess her own body, and this in order to find out who and why has prematurely ended her life. Fascinated by the phenomenon, Maeve finds herself in a whirlwind of events that force her to question her whole life: from her membership of the Sisters of the Good Death to the Sisterhood's enmity towards poets, of which Imogen is a member, to love. Decidedly fantasy, but very much a thriller, the novel presents a series of truly enjoyable characters, whom the author moves around with true mastery, sparing no twists and turns.
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The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal follows Maeve, who serves a convent dedicated to shepherding lost souls between worlds, and Imogen, a renowned and deceased poet who has somehow returned to life and is set on revenge. Sounds divine, right? We’re promised a gothic and spooky atmosphere while the characters solve a mystery, and that’s partially accurate. The story starts off strong. It’s gloriously mysterious, the kind of book best read curled up under a worn quilt while the wind batters the windows and rains down autumn leaves. But as the story progresses, the mystery plot fizzles out in the face of the romance. Throughout, there’s a disconnect between the writing and the characters to the point where Maeve and Imogen never feel fully formed. It makes it difficult to be invested in the story. Because of this, emotional moments fall flat, especially those relating to the romance.
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Intriguing premise and great characters! I will definitely need to read the rest of this! (Life got in the way and I ran out of time to finish 🥲). I love queer nun stories, and fantasy makes them that much more fun!
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I had a few false starts with this novel just because of life getting in the way but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. I was worried the story would be overly dark or try to hard to be edgy but I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had. Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of this book excellent book!
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This was a great read- it reminded me of T Kingfisher’s work, especially something like the Paladin series, with a similar mix of down to earth characters, believable romance, and creepiness/magic. I also wished this was a series- I loved the idea of the Sisters of the Good Death and I hope that we get to see more stories about them!

On the whole, a spooky but heartwarming read. Highly recommended!
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With a gorgeously built steam-punkish world that you’re thrown straight into and an atmosphere that is somehow both spooky and cosy in turns I loved this from the (very funny) opening paragraph. It’s a very well crafted book, although I did find the pacing a little slow at times - aside from the excellent worldbuilding the romance was a wonderful tender slow-burn, the writing is gorgeous and it’s both funny and dark in turns. I love how we’re slowly drip-fed more info about the world we’re in as we go along (exorcist nuns anyone?), and as the plot unfurls we get to know these characters more and grow to love them. With queer romance, ghosts, and a chilling mystery the novel manages to blend genres without ever feeling muddled or leaning too much one way or the other. A very enjoyable read, would recommend!
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Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an arc!
A lgbtq ghost story? Hell yess! This book was so much fun and I will be buying the book because first of all cozy, fun read but also I couldn’t finish the last 50 pages😭 so I will be reading the rest of it!
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Thank you Netgalley,  author, and the publishers for allowing me the opportunity to read this e-arc.
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Maeve lives a cozy life as a member of a nunnery whose sworn goal is to ease the passing of wayward spirits beyond these mortal plane. Her life and worldview are challenged when she meets Imogen: a poet, whose counter cultural lifestyles the nuns abhor, and who is most importantly, undead. The two embark on an adventure to solve Imogen’s murder, and unlikely allies become something more, making Maeve reevaluate her goals as one sworn to honor the dead.

I love the atmosphere, environment, and mood of this book—the city the author creates, the characters she created. I think it would be very appealing to people who are fans of “dark academia” type content. However, I found the pacing of the mystery felt like a slog…we kept returning to characters and conflicts who we had already been directed before. It definitely isn’t for me, since I like faster paced mysteries, but I think the right kind of patient reader would get a lot from this book, especially one who enjoys spook and cute reads.
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If you like mysteries, ghosts, sapphic romance and very unique settings, you might like:

🔮 The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal by Grayson Daly 🔮

In this 'metaphysical mystery' romance novel we follow Maeve, a Sister of the Sisterhood of Good Death which aids restless souls in their journey to the afterlife. One night she encounters a woman who appears to be dead, but her soul still inhabits her body - asking Maeve to help her find the person who murdered her a year ago. But Imogen is a Poet, and Poets go against everything the Sisterhood stands for with their hedonistic lifestyle... 


The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal left me with very conflicted feelings. On the one hand I absolutely loved the very intricately thought out and unique world of the Sisters and the Poets. From the start I was fascinated by the opposing philosophies of the two and wanted to know more about them. Daly has such a great, fluent writing style which made it very easy to read and want to keep reading. And the mystery, too, mostly kept my attention and left me guessing. I thought it was a very engaging and original combination of genres.

The characters and romance, on the other hand, weren't as great in my opinion. It felt as if we stayed on the surface throughout the whole story and didn't really get to see the characters' personalities, thoughts, feelings and backgrounds from up close. This also made it difficult for me to understand why Maeve and Imogen felt attracted to each other - I just didn't know them well enough. The author definitely used more telling than showing, which can be really great, but here unfortunately didn't go deep enough for me to be invested in the characters and what happened to them.

I would love to try another work by Daly in the future, however, because the world and the atmosphere were very innovative and interesting!


My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the eARC!
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I really wanted to love this, but it just fell flat and I had a hard time finishing it. The start felt very slow and I hard a difficult time engaging with any of the characters.
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Magic? Murder? THE GAYS!? Yes. Yes. And YES! 

Fall into a world of urban magic where shadows reside in the secrets, but a curious coven of witches seek to uncover the truth hiding behind the shadows.
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Finally a page-turning book!
I like it a lot. Couldn't put it down. I really enjoy the setting, the plot, and the character development. I would have loved if Imogen got also a chance to 'heal' from her throat injury, but I guess for her being 'alive' and well at the end is ultimately a win-win.  This book has the potential to develop a sequel in no time. I like the idea of the Sister of Good Death. This is something I'd really love to know more about.
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This was a great story. It definitely got slow and hard to read at times and there were times that the budding love story got boring but still a very interesting and unique love story. I was a little underwhelmed with the ending battle compared to some of the higher action parts of the book before. But I was rooting for the main couple with such ferocity. Highly recommend reading!
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Indies books are always a sort of bet: you can find a diamond or something you won't like.
This is a diamond, a complex and well plotted story with an original idea.
Entertaining. well plotted, and compelling
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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*3.5 rounded down

Thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial / Nosetouch Press for providing me with this ARC in return of an honest review.

The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal is Grayson Daly’s queer, fantasy debut novel. The story follows Maeve, a sister of Good Death, who helps spirits move beyond the veil. When she meets Imogen Madrigal, a poet who has returned from the death, her life gets turned upside down. The unlikely pair set out to solve the mysterious murder of Imogen Madrigal and find more than what they might have been looking for.

Grayson Daly’s writing is alright. Let’s begin with what she does well: humour.

“Isn’t that blackmail? a small voice asked inside her head. Maeve scoffed to herself. It wasn’t blackmail! It was getting aid from an unwilling party who really ought to be willing.”

Humour without coming off as annoying and cringe is not easy, but Daly has a good grip on the skill of being subtly amusing and she made me chuckle more than once. Now, something that annoyed me was the punctuation. There are em dashes on almost every page and way too many ellipses, and the combination of those two just gave the text an unedited look. What is with the obsession with em dashes? Did fanfictions do this to us? The word choices also made me stumble a little at times because it felt unfitting for the world or simply made little sense which added to that unpolished feeling. There is a lack of descriptiveness when it comes to inner thoughts and feelings which made it harder to understand motivations of characters but then at the same time, there were unnecessary descriptions in other areas (e.g., “the kitchen fire was warm”). Overall, the manuscript could’ve benefited from a few more rounds of editing.

I really enjoyed the steampunk setting since I’ve not read a lot of stories in that setting (which I need to fix!). Not a lot about the world is explained or described but it is written in a way where the reader is mostly able to fill out the blanks from general knowledge. The author trusts the reader to a reasonable extent, and I rarely struggled when it came to understanding rules and customs. I still would’ve enjoyed a little bit more exposure and descriptions. Especially when it came to fashion! The extravaganza of poets is a big focus of the story, but I felt it lacked in description. The world left me wanting to know more.

The story follows Maeve as she sets out to help Imogen solve her mysterious murder. That is the core of the story, a murder mystery. Or at least, that is what it was supposed to be about? But honestly, most of the story is about Maeve learning more about the world of art and science. Which is interesting, don’t get me wrong but for a murder mystery, there was little detective work or solving any of the mystery. In fact, they do not solve anything until the very end when everything is told and served to them on a silver platter. It was rushed and the set-up was not properly outlined. The ending also did not make complete sense but to be fair, I also did not care that much. What ended up happening was that character relationships became the focus of the story and made me as the reader care little about the supposed plot.

I thoroughly enjoyed all characters. I wished I could’ve known more about them and perhaps, the story would’ve benefited from multiple POVs. Having such strong and defined characters made up for the lack of focus on the plot. The author very obviously cares about these characters enough to make them distinct and complex, and so it is easy for the reader to care as well. The characters were my favourite part of the story.

The relationships were interesting because the characters involved were interesting, but the romance did not work for me. The chemistry was not shown on page, and it is difficult to understand why these characters care so deeply about each other. The familial and platonic attachments were way more intriguing to me, and I wish we got more of that! A general critique I have for stories nowadays is the at times unnecessary focus on romantic relationships and the neglect of other relationship types. It feels overly western and maybe even capitalistic to put more importance on romantic monogamous relationships while also side-lining the significance of community. Therefore, I appreciate Daly dedicating multiple scenes to those relationships. More of that please! Community matters.

I had a good time reading this and for a debut novel, it is a solid text. There being room for improvement is a big plus and I wish to see more books with diversity like in The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal. I will recommend this to readers who want more sapphic fantasy that is a little different from most fantasy settings nowadays.
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The beginning of this book started off a bit slow and was a little hard to get into but about a third of the way through it really picked up. I absolutely loved our two main characters and how they interacted with each other. The way they learned to communicate through the challenges they faced was so innovative and wonderful.

I loved how their relationship developed and became closer as the book progressed. I also enjoyed how they interacted with Orion. His interactions with every character were so funny and made me laugh every time.

Overall, this was a really solid debut and I look forward to what the author puts out in the future.
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While I quite enjoyed this book, it didn't fully captivate me. The cover is the main thing that caught my eye when I was scrolling on Netgalley and the premise intrigued me as well. Overall it was pretty good but not exactly a new favourite.
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I absolutely loved the gothic vibes throughout the books and I found both main characters so endearing and easy to read! I thought the premise was super interesting, and the found family warmed my heart. The mystery aspect of the book was so well set up, even though I would've personally liked more stakes at the end. 

It's an overall great read !
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I was scrolling through Netgalley, because yes, I do have a serious issue when it comes to thus site, when this cover caught my eye. It reminded me of the type of glamour that The Great Gatsby tried to convey, and so my interest was piqued. The description of this book was so much more than that, and I'll admit that I was quickly lured in. 
The untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal is a warm and cozy, fast-paced read that cannot be held down by one genre. It has elements of magical realism, murder mystery, romance, and the paranormal. The story features so many queer characters, and it is so refreshing to see a novel where being queer is completely normal and accepted in this fictional society. 
I'm not the type of reader to enjoy historical fiction, but I find that I really enjoyed the ambiguous time period at the heart of this story. It leans towards a historical time period, but features some modern technologies which helped the story keep that otherworldly air that makes this a great escapist read without the difficulty that sometimes comes with fantasy novels. 
But above all else, I think my favourite part of this novel is the character relationships. I love the relationship between Maeve and Imogen throughout the novel, and the friendship of the sisters in the convent was so heart-warming. Though they have their faults and their relationship is not perfect, Maeve has built her own family with these friends, and I think this is just a group that's hard not to love. Also, Orion was such a delight to have in the story. He is ridiculous and funny, he is charming, very full of himself, and being a poet, he has his own way of words. 
If you like magical realism, cozy mysteries, and elements of found family, i cannot urge you enough to read this book. Throughout the story, the phrase "A good life is made up of good moments" is repeated by different characters, changing meaning throughout the story as we see the characters grow and discover themselves. I am very happy to have been able to read some of Maeve and Imogen's good moments.
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