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The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal

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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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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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The untimely undeath of Imogen Madrigal is a Good Book, I liked it. Different to other ghoststories. Unexpected contens.

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This story was so quirky and fun to read! I loved the setting, especially the portrayal of the convent, and the worldbuilding of how the society was set up was really unique. The dynamic between Imogen and Maeve was so fun to explore with them, and all of the secondary characters (Orion, Thalia, Frances and Shivani) were all super nuanced and compelling to read about. I did feel like the end was a bit rushed and could have had more time to unwrap and explain everything, but I really enjoyed the way that Maeve's character grew throughout the story but still stayed true to herself.

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I loved this book! It was so great I will definitely have to get a physical copy to be able to read it again. I really enjoyed the mystery and if you have ever watched something where the ghost is trying to figure out what happened to themselves and enjoyed it then this is a book for you! I will definitely be recommending it to all of my book loving friends!

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This was much more fun than I thought it would be! I expected something grimdark, where everything is foggy and sad and slightly disgusting.
Instead we get Sister Maeve, from the Sisters of Good Death, and Imogen Madrigal trying to uncover the latters murder and also the reason why she isn't dead.
What we get is very fun worldbuilding. A port city with a connected island. A nunnery that believes a good life leads to a good death. A steampunky vibe but with modern society (same sex marriage, for example, gender neutral pronouns, my man Orion with his nipple piercings, high heels and lipstick) without it feeling forced. A science vs. faith plot that doesn't hammer home the fact that Christianity Is The Only Way(TM).

All in all, a very fun read! I really liked Maeve as a main character, and her character growth by the end (that I won't spoil, but I liked her talk with Mother Superior in the end), and the colorful cast!
The only negative point I have is, that the solving of Imogens undeath never felt really pressing. It was certainly the main plotpoint, but it was really just the two of them bumbling along with no clear deadline, or other reasons for it to feel like it mattered that they found out who did it. Usually, you have a "find out by day x or something horrible happens", but this novel doesn't have that (and when a somewhat important deadline is introduced, it doesn't feel like it's all that important and deadline-y). Unfortunately, that makes it somewhat lukewarm for a mystery book.

Ultimately a fun read that lacked a bit of urgency in its plot development, which unfortunately makes it somewhat forgettable.

@NetGalley & BooksGoSocial: Thank you guys for this ARC!

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Thank you Netgalley for this advanced copy. This was an interesting mix of sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal. Had me laughing, rushing through chapters, and anxious to know what was next!

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The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal by Grayson Daly offers a mysterious and captivating plot that draws readers into a world where the living and the dead intertwine. The concept of the Sisterhood of Good Death and their duty to guide lost souls is intriguing, providing a unique backdrop for the story. The initial encounter between Maeve and the enigmatic Imogen Madrigal promises an enthralling exploration of justice and the afterlife.

However, while the plot shines with its allure, the characters fail to live up to their potential. The main characters, Maeve and Imogen, lack depth and fail to evoke a genuine connection with the reader. The romantic subplot falls flat, lacking chemistry and emotional investment. It's disappointing because there was potential for a compelling dynamic between the two, considering their unusual circumstances.

The most interesting character turns out to be a side character who makes only fleeting appearances throughout the narrative. This character captures the imagination and leaves the reader yearning for more. It's a missed opportunity that the book doesn't delve deeper into this intriguing persona, as their presence is a breath of fresh air amidst the otherwise lackluster main cast.

Another aspect that falls short is the world-building. While there are glimpses of an intriguing setting, it suffers from underdevelopment. Certain aspects, like naming conventions and the rules of the world, are left unexplained, leaving the reader with unanswered questions. It feels as though the author expects the readers to accept these elements without questioning, which can be frustrating for those seeking a more thorough understanding of the world they are immersed in.

In conclusion, The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal delivers a plot that holds a strong allure of mystery and intrigue. However, the characters, especially the main ones, fail to evoke a genuine connection and the romantic subplot lacks chemistry. The most captivating character is unfortunately sidelined, leaving the reader wanting more. While the world-building shows glimpses of promise, it suffers from underdevelopment, leaving important aspects unexplained. Overall, while the story has its moments, it falls short of its potential and leaves some lingering dissatisfaction.

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Omg, I cannot. This book started off strong in the first chapter or two, and then it just became a plotless slog of drudgery. I got to 50% finished before I just literally could not take another word. This has no direction, no character development, no discernible plot concerns to move the story along. It’s just a girl, talking to another girl, who she’s hiding from other girls. You have a literal zombie in your book—how do you make that dull??

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It’s a bit cozy, a bit quirky, but a lot of steampunk queer joy. It’s a mystery romance with unique world building that is both totally different than The Undertaking of Heart and Mercy but also sort of reminded me of those vibes? Idk I think if you read this book you’ll get what I mean. I was honestly obsessed with the world building and especially this idea of poets being these very sophisticated, snazzy, and powerful people. Most the poets I know of are big old nerds so this was fun to imagine. idk there’s also something very cool about a religion that revolves around death and ghosts. Not sure how I feel about it all on a deeper level but for this story it was extremely fun to read about.

I had a very hard time with Maeve in the beginning but I really started to like her to longer she was with Imogene. The writing of their relationship and how they slowly brought out the best in each other was so well done. I maybe could have done with some more emotional heart to hearts - but that’s just me bc I like big emotional conversations.

Anyways, the found family was equally lovely to read! Orion especially was an absolute delight. The mystery was extremely well set up but in the end it was the weakest part- I think I just needed more interactions and scenes with all the people involved for me to really feel the stakes. Anyways- if you like a weird but very fun mystery romance then you’ll like this I think.

Thanks again to NetGalley and Nosetouch Press for this Arc!

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The Sapphic longing! The death obsessed society! The idea of a good death! The poets as hedonists! THE SAPPHIC LONGING!

I have a soft spot for stories that explore death in positive ways and if you add a wonderfully diverse cast of well-rounded characters, then I truly couldn't be happier. I was deeply attached to Maeve and Imogen and loved the way Daly wrote the conclusion to their story. This is easily one of my favorite reads of the year so far! Perfect for anyone who enjoys Gothic supernatural stories and lesbians.

Thank you to Netgalley for the E-ARC!

*Review also appears on Goodreads + Storygraph

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