Cover Image: The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal

The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal

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Member Reviews

The first chapter immediately shot me into the story. It was a great start and I loved the character introduction of Meave and Imogen immensely. Initially, the dialogue was a bit clunky and Meave and Imogen very quickly started their investigation together. I thought that went a bit fast and I was a little scared that it would be lots of interviews with various people and not much actual story but that was not the case at all. Although I had a little bit of a hard time getting through it in the beginning, later when more things happened it made it very exciting and fast to read. 

I enjoyed the various relationships between the characters and the institutions greatly as well. Meave and Imogen, Meave and Shivani, Orion with basically everyone. I love Orion the most but really all the characters were very fun and all had their own great aspects that made me love them. The way the different institutions interacted with each other was very well done and I loved how it was emphasised how little both knew of each other's theories and practises. Although I had wished for more explanation on how it all works I think it fits well in the story with how much everyone knows the world.  

The conflicts between characters and in general in the story were also really good. I wanted to throw away my tablet sometimes and other times I cried through the chapter. I always love books that make you feel something and this was no exception. Especially Meave's speech near the end made me weep. I am very glad I got to read this book and although it is a stand-alone I would read many more stories with these characters and this world.
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What a deliciously tempestuous read. Ups and downs abound within the story and the readers experience matches this. 

Great world building. Extremely descriptive and imaginative. LGBTQIAP+ rep was exquisite.  

Thank you to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for providing an eARC for an honest review.
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This dragged. Its plot and conceit were perfectly serviceable, and I think the characters were well developed, with believable personalities. The structural tensions were all there. Thinking back on the shape of the plot, I can see it's actually perfectly well developed: Maeve, a nun responsible for dispelling ghosts and ensuring the dead rest in peace, runs across a mysterious stranger who makes a deal with her: she helps the stranger--the titular Imogen Madrigal, who is actually a reanimated corpse--discover who killed her, and the Imogen will use her influence to help Maeve support her nunnery's weakening finances. This is all nicely set up: Maeve has the expertise in hauntings and ghosts and death to work effectively with a reanimated corpse. Imogen, however, is affiliated with a network of louche and hedonous poets, whom the nunnery really doesn't care for (for reasons that are never fully clear to me; it's not moral tut-tutting; it's more that they like to do things like seances, which the nunnery thinks are cruel to the dead), and also had ties to the university, which the nunnery also doesn't get on with, because the spiritual vs. scientific approaches to ghost are incompatible. The society built for this world was nicely designed, and I  enjoyed the various visits Maeve makes on her nunnish errands to dispel spirits in various places that lay out the various factions and philosophies. Also, someone keeps trying to kill Imogen again and finish the job properly, so Maeve's under some pressure to clear things up fast. Really, all the pieces are there for a rollicking romp.

But the rollicking never actually romped. Everything just dragged. The repeated murder attempts are never quite frequent enough to convey a sense of genuine threat, so they appear kind of randomly and desultorily rather than actually reinforcing the fact that there are dangerous people operating in opposition to Imogen and Maeve. Instead, most of the plot focuses its attention on the growing tensions between Maeve and Imogen (nudge nudge wink wink), and related but different tensions brewing between Maeve and her best friend--a plot point also takes far too long to come to a head. Everything needed to be tightened up substantially. I felt like I wanted to be halfway through the book at 30%, and by the time I was at 60% I wanted to be hitting the climax. Literally, this book was too long by half.

Further, one quite key plot element, which seemed far too central given its awkwardness and unnnecessariness, really irritated me. See, the world was designed to be at a technological level of--oh, say, 1920 or so. Telephones exist but are uncommon, and electricity exists but not everywhere. Imogen was murdered by having her throat cut, so she can't talk very well out of it even after her corpse reanimated. So how does she communicate? With cell phones! Excuse me--not cell phones, 'hand telegraphs'--which work exactly like modern text messaging. But there isn't really any plot-necessary purpose that I can see for shoe-horning in such an obvious modern device. First, I don't fully understand why Imogen can't just talk. There's perhaps a hint that her inability to speak fluently is particularly trying, given how much she used to rely on language during life as a poet, but that doesn't become clear until very, very late in the book, and is not thematically important enough to justify such a weird narrative choice. There's very little use of text messaging that takes advantage of its use for remote communication--certainly nothing that a well-placed messenger child couldn't handle--or even a traditional telegraph boy. It's mostly just how Imogen and Maeve talk to each other during in-person conversations. And yet Imogen's communicative habits don't actually match the medium. There are scenes where Maeve interrupts her at places where a speaking person would interrupt another speaking person, but it doesn't work for text messaging, because the interruption would either appear earlier--if the words appear one at a time on her receiver--or else much later, after the message is complete, if the text messages are sent in whole chunks once the texter hits 'send', the way modern cell phones do. These hand telegraphs were an enormous component of how Maeve and Imogen communicate, and they just didn't work. Every scene with them felt forced and weird, as if the author is incapable of imagining how to function without a cell phone, and so had to force a weird approximation of them into the world she'd created. There is MAGIC and GHOSTS. If you really want Imogen incapable of speaking (which is not really necessary, as far as I can tell), have her use MAGIC. (Also, these 'hand telegraphs', if they truly work by radio waves, the way a scientist explains, seem a WILDLY INSECURE means of communication if you're trying to avoid letting a killer know your plans.)

There were also some irritating editing oversights. Imogen and Maeve are hiding from a killer at one point in a cellar, and so start writing back and forth in Maeve's sketchbook to communicate.  For a few sentences Maeve speaks aloud before returning to writing down her thoughts so as not to be heard--apparently a concern she'd forgotten half a page up. And, for that matter, why not use their hand telegraphs rather than writing by hand? For that matter, there are multiple scenes where Imogen writes to Maeve in a sketchbook rather than using a hand telegraph, for no other reason than that--as far as I can tell--a previous draft had Imogen using hand-writing, before the author decided to insert cell phones--excuse me, hand telegraphs--and forgot to change it everywhere.

So, in sum, this book felt very, very first novel: too long, some odd plot decisions, and some weak editing--but the components for a much better story were all in place. I hope the author can wrangle them more successfully next time.
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The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal was comedic, heartfelt, and intriguing, all at the same time. I was captivated by both the characters and the mystery plot line. The idea of a convent dedicated to serving the dead and the grieving was brilliantly unique. I will definitely be purchasing a physical copy to reread and keep on my shelves.
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A little bit of romance, a little bit of politics, a little bit of magic, and some flamboyant queer poets – this book has a whole lot going for it. Despite the title, the book is told primarily from the perspective of Maeve, a death nun who gets caught up in working to solve the mystery of Imogen’s death and subsequent resurrection. Along the way she must confront assassination attempts, decadent parties, and her own doubts about her spirituality. The story features a vibrant array of side characters, many of whom I would have loved to see more of. Speaking of wanting to see more, I would also have liked to see more worldbuilding. What is there certainly isn’t bad, but I want to know more about the sisterhood and religion in this world, the political system on the island, and what the world looks like off the island. I suppose that’s the mark of interesting worldbuilding – I want to see more of the world, instead of feeling overwhelmed by details. My only serious complaint with the book is Imogen’s dialogue. She communicates via writing since she can’t talk, which makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is the way her dialogue is translated into something that someone would actually type. For instance, there would be sentences started, paused, and then changed into something else, or ellipses used in a way that didn’t feel natural for what’s essentially texting. Also italics – am I meant to assume the miniature telegraph she uses has italics? So that didn’t always make a ton of sense, though I understand its importance for readability and flow. Otherwise, I found it an engaging, compelling story.
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3.75 stars

This review is very difficult for me since there was so much about The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal that I really liked but there were also some pretty big issues for me as well.

First off, this book is a little bit like if Legends and Lattes, and Lockwood & Co (the tv series, I haven’t read the books) had a baby. But with a sprinkling of Cemetery Boys. And nuns. I maybe wouldn’t call it a cozy fantasy but cozy adjacent?

The Good:
I really enjoyed all of the characters. Sister Maeve is sweet, relatable, and has a really nice arc throughout the novel. I also loved her blossoming romance with Imogen. Orion was one of my favourite characters, always entertaining when he was in a scene. The characters and the setting had some definite cozy vibes. Then the mystery gave us a bit more structure and direction for the story. I was invested in both the romance and the solving of the mystery.

The world is also so interesting! The dynamics between the nobles, the poets, the scientists, and the Sisters of the Good Death was so intriguing (but not touched upon as much as it could have been). It’s ghostbusting nuns! In a queernormative world, with tea, and a mystery. And a sapphic romance! What’s not to like?

The Less Good:
The pacing felt very slow. It felt like there wasn’t very much happening for chunks of the book which gave the sense that it was a much longer book than it was. There definitely could have been some trims made.

I also really needed a little bit more time at the beginning to introduce us to the world and how it worked. I think the author was leaning into the cozy fantasy vibes with the slower pace and not wanting to get into too complex world building but it was also a mystery. I needed more information, more tension, and a slightly quicker pace to grab hold of my attention a little more tightly. I think this would have also made the emotional beats hit a little harder later on.

Overall I did enjoy more about this book than I didn’t, and I’m very much looking forward to reading more by this author.
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I love when a book toes the line between sci-fi and fantasy! This is an atmospheric tale of a death nun who meets undead Imogen and agrees to help her find out who killed her. The world building and uniqueness of the premise is what caught my eye for this book! I was expecting this to be a bit more about the mystery but I would consider the mystery the sub plot and the main plot is the developing relationship between the characters. The characters are all very interesting and I related to Maeve's inner fight between what she believes and what she's learning as she ventures outside her convent. I really enjoyed the first half of the book but though the second half really lost the plot and I didn't understand the point of a lot of the side characters.  It was still a really unique read and would definitely recommend for anyone who enjoys gothic/sci-fi atmosphere in their reads
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Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher Nosetouch Press for the digital ARC, it has not affected my honest review. 

TW: murder, death, religion, horror, ghosts, hauntings

"The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal" starts with the murder, exactly one year ago, of Imogen Madrigal- a rising star in the world of poetry- in a back alley. Her throat is slit and she is buried with much fanfare, but over a year later her grave lies forgotten. Sister Maeve, who works for a group of nuns who help to exorcise ghosts and bring them to rest, discovers the abandoned tomb and finds herself fascinated by the woman who was the same age as Maeve when she died. Poets and nuns are natural enemies because of the chronic hedonism and seances held by poets that the nuns see as disrespectful. While drawing at the cemetery, Maeve meets a strange woman who can't talk, only to discover it's Imogen Madrigal herself, who has risen from the grave and doesn't know why. As Maeve and Imogen work together to solve her murder, Maeve finds herself thrown into the world of poets- only to realise that she hasn't been as happy in the convent as she once thought. Working alongside Imogen's former mentor Orion and some of the sisters from the convent, Imogen and Maeve find themselves tangled up into a web of complicated history and hurt feelings; at the same time, they start to fall in love, with Maeve wondering what will happen when Imogen finally finds her killer and goes to rest in peace. 

I loved this book, it was the perfect combination of horror and mystery with a dash of queer romance and a discussion around the connections of science and religion. I loved Maeve's journey from feeling obligated to the convent for taking her in after the death of her grandmother to realising that she could want more from life, she wants to be an artist and the life of a nun doesn't match her as perfectly as she thought. Imogen, meanwhile, is introduced as a mystery but as the story went on it became clear why she was so beloved in life. I especially liked the way that Maeve and Imogen communicated due to Imogen's throat injury and how that was never treated as hinderance or as different; this kind of accessibility in the story really mattered to me. This story had a lovely mixture of severity (it does deal with a murder) and humour as well as some lovely romantic moments between Imogen and Maeve. Sometimes the pacing felt a little slow but that didn't matter because the characterisation was so strong and well established, while the world building was incredibly imaginative. I really enjoyed this book and I could definitely see my re-reading it when I'm in the mood for a great queer standalone.
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This book is my newest obsession! I was hooked from the first line. The book opens with absolutely stunning prose, with amazing gothic academia vibes, that continues throughout the entire book. On top of the fantastic prose were fantastic, unique, lovable characters. I loved Maeve so much. She is so sweet and caring and witty and tough. She also underwent amazing character development, learning more about what she wanted in life and gaining the confidence to go after it. Of course, I also loved Imogen because how could I not. She was a fabulous caricature that became a unique individual. The mystery around her death was so clever. I loved the amateur sleuth investigation, and definitely did not see the final twist coming. My only critiques are that the ending was a little too fluffy for my tastes, and the setting and mythology could have been developed a bit more. Overall, this book has everything I could possibly want: fantastic plot, amazing characters, vibrant prose, and on top of all that, its so very queer. I highly recommend.
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Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read an early copy of this book!

On the island city of Lenorum, Maeve serves the Sisterhood of Good Death, a convent whose purpose is to shepherd lost souls from one world to the next. But her life of devotion to the unquiet dead is upended by an encounter with the haughty poet Imogen Madrigal, who has mysteriously returned from beyond the veil not in spirit, but in the flesh--and determined to obtain justice, whatever the cost. Maeve agrees to help Imogen solve her murder, which propels her headlong into the hedonistic and heretical world of the extravagant and influential Poets' Court. 

I wasn't sure what to expect when starting the book. The summary certainly piqued my interest. After finishing it I am very pleased that I was given an opportunity to read it. Having just recently enjoyed the London Seance Society from a different author I was definitely in the mood to delve into this kind of world again and I was not disappointed at. all!

We follow Sister Maeve of the Sisterhood of Good Death as she finds herself questioning her faith in a world where having a good death is just as important as having a good life. The nuns of this order dedicate their lives to help troubled spirits resolve their unfinished business so they may move on to the peaceful rest they deserve. Maeve's structured world is turned upside down and her faith is in question when she meets Imogen Madrigal, a poet of renown and recently troubled spirit following her tragic murder. Maeve and Imogen are hurtled through a world of science, magic, faith, and love with a great cast of characters that you'll fall in love with immediately. Am I the only one that picked up on elements that loosely remind you of the movie Ghost?!? One could also even say Maeve and her fellow sisters are their own brand of Ghostbusters! I would definitely read more about this world. Grayson Daly deserves all the kudos for this beautifully written dark and romantic mystery!
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I love the world. I love the characters and story. It’s very slow paced but enjoyable. Anyone who loves a cozy fantasy mystery will love this book! Some things could’ve be either executed differently or in a better manner but overall a very nice read!
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The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal was everything I wanted, based on the premise. There was a little paranormal mystery, a debaucherous Poet’s court, and a sapphic romance all tied into one. Just be aware going in that this is more a story about the joy and meaning of life than it is a mystery novel. I think if you go in with that expectation, you’ll be disappointed.

Instead, the bulk of the book is about the the budding relationship between Maeve and Imogen, and the lessons they both learn about life. I won’t spoil what those lessons are, but I found it really satisfying for them to discover what they’ve been missing from their respective existence. 

Throw in a fantasy backdrop with paranormal death nuns and a society that reveres the poets, and I’m sold. 

This book also has a wonderful cast of side characters, including a devilishly handsome disaster bi who steals every scene he’s in. 

For me there were a few plot inconsistencies, unless I misunderstood something, but I also read an early copy so those could be fixed in the final print. Overall, they didn’t take away from my enjoyment, but they did leave me scratching my head.

All in all an enjoyable story with characters I’ll be thinking about for some time.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I absolutely adored this book. I devoured every page of it, right from the off, and when other things kept me from reading it, I found myself looking forward to getting back into it. 
The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal had one of the strongest opening chapters I've ever read in a book, and kept up a similar momentum from there. I was immediately attached both to Imogen and to Maeve, and really loved watching their relationship grow from strangers to lovers.  I can see why some people might say that it lacked a bit of development, but for me personally it felt very authentically like someone who's just discovering their own capacity for attraction encountering it for the first time. There were times I was even jealous of Maeve, who came to accept her feelings toward Imgoen with much more grace than I did the first time I developed feelings for someone. 
Since we're talking about the characters, I absolutely have to give a shoutout to my boy Orion Cantor, the single Most Character to ever exist. Utterly flawless, I have no notes for him. I'd read another six books of Orion just bopping round the courts being a self-described slutty 30 year old. The investigation part of the book actually had me spending a good part of my reading time worried that he would turn out to be the murderer, and then I'd have had to feel bad for falling for his charms. Thankfully, that wasn't the case, and I was free to love him, and worry about him where appropriate. 
The mystery itself was solid, and (unusually for a book not focused on the subject) I didn't manage to work out exactly what was going on until it was all explained in the text. Several clues were witheld from readers that probably would have helped people put that together earlier, but I really think that the mystery was only a secondary part of this story, and it served its purpose admirably. 
A great book, all round, and one I'd gladly read again.
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This was a gothic tale unlike anything I’ve read before. The story was unique and I found myself along for a ride and not at all caring where it took me.
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I had really high expectations of this book and I was not disappointed.
There are so many of my favorite Genres and vibes in this book that I don't know where to start.
The characters were very relatable in certain aspects.
Imogen, with her poetry, and Maeve, a nun trying to be a "good" one.
I fell in love quickly with them and I am going to miss them.
This was a cozy and pleasant reading that made me actually forget that I was reading.
I highly recommend this book if you like fantasy with dark academia vibes, mystery, and queerness.
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This book answers the question “what if the Ghostbusters were nuns”. The setting was interesting in that it represented what appeared to be the High Fantasy style of an entirely separate world, not accessible from ours; the language used by the characters (and some of the science) reflected modernity, whilst the actions of the characters and their development felt like it was trying to replicate the feel of a period drama - ultimately, I was left wondering why this choice had been made, rather than simply picking one angle and sticking to it. Loved the queer representation throughout, which was refreshing in its simplicity - it wasn’t highlighted or questioned in any way; queer characters were simply abundant and integral to the society in which the narrative is set. The mystery itself was, ultimately, shallow - I felt, reading the blurb, like that should have been front and centre, with the romantic elements of the story a subplot; instead, the reverse of this muddied the purpose of the narrative and left me feeling like I didn’t really care how Imogen Madrigal’s ‘undeath’ had happened, by the time we found out all about it. Thus, this is not a story with a great deal of narrative depth; because more time was spent on detailing the emerging romantic relationship than providing greater reason for the reader to care about that, or even to navigate the mystery in a way which felt more engaging, I eventually found myself wondering when it was going to end. I probably won’t read it again.
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I loved this book. I wish I had gotten to read it at a better time. I've been reading this book through my finals, which made the experience a bit tedious.

Anyway! I thought the characters were well thought out; each one had their own problems, and this book didn’t make the main character seem like a saint or anything, or someone who was impervious to trauma and the real world. The author also didn’t make the character afraid of the world, considering their background, in an annoying way. She had fears; she voiced them, but she went through it afraid, was on her toes, and handled each situation. I thought the middle ground between being stupidly brave and fearful was well written, and Maeve wasn't too much of either. Each character had an interesting backstory that gave them amazing depth, and no one was two-dimensional.

Maeve and Imogene’s relationship wasn’t toxic! They helped each other without being codependent; they learned from each other; they had their problems, but they talked them through. I do wish we got to see how Maeve navigated her relationship with certain characters (you know who I’m talking about), and seeing more of Maeve’s sisters and their interactions would be nice. I also really wanted to know more about Imogen and the other sisters backstories and experiences, as well as that one character I mentioned above (I hope you know who I’m talking about). I want to know more about what happened to them in general, considering their conflict and how they got to be okay with everything. But other than that, I give it 4.5 stars, and I will be buying the hardcover copy of the book.

The world described was amazing, the author it is very clear that the author put a lot of thought into how it should work. The explanations weren't annoying either. To me, the book never dragged on and on, which is very much appreciated as someone who doesn't have a great attention span. I loved the lessons that the book discussed, like how it's okay to go for what you want and to cherish what you've got; how change is a part of life and it must be embraced; how judging people isn't okay even if the person in front of you is your worst enemy; and never be afraid
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Thank you to Grayson Daly and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

"The Untimely Death of Imogen Madrigal" by Grayson Daly takes readers on a mesmerizing journey into a richly imagined world of metaphysics, mystery, and romance. Set in the gothic island city of Lenorum, we follow the protagonist, Sister Maeve, a member of the Sisterhood of Good Death, as she encounters the enigmatic poet Imogen Madrigal. Imogen has returned from the beyond, seeking justice for her murder, and Maeve reluctantly agrees to help her solve the mystery. The book skillfully blends elements of fantasy, steampunk, and gothic fiction, creating a captivating atmosphere that immerses readers in its Victorian-inspired setting.

The strength of this novel lies in its character development, particularly with Maeve, whose personal journey forms the emotional heart of the story. As she delves deeper into the world of poets and unravels the secrets of Lenorum, she undergoes a transformative and introspective exploration of her desires and beliefs. The supporting characters are equally well-rounded, adding depth and complexity to the narrative.

Daly's world-building is exceptional, vividly bringing Lenorum to life with its eerie landscapes, supernatural beings, and intricate societal structures. The descriptive prose paints a vivid picture, captivating readers and immersing them in the world's rich tapestry.

Romance is also a central theme, as Maeve's feelings for Imogen evolve throughout the story. The budding relationship between the two is both compelling and delightful, adding an extra layer of intrigue and emotion to the plot.

Overall, "The Untimely Death of Imogen Madrigal" is a captivating blend of metaphysical mystery, gothic romance, and fantastical world-building. Daly's storytelling prowess shines through, crafting a unique and immersive reading experience. For those who enjoy atmospheric and thought-provoking fiction, this book is a must-read. Prepare to be enchanted by the intricate web of secrets, the richly imagined world, and the compelling characters that will linger in your mind long after you turn the final page.
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2,75 ⭐️

I'm a big opponent of rating debut novels low, mainly because I see them as a road for author to find their writings. But sometimes that journey is rowdy and takes time. 
I loved premise of "The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal", because hey, if you serve me nuns, murder mysteries and lesbians how can you expect me to not eat this shit up? And Grayson Daly serves a good meal in this field. Imogen and Maeve's story is interesting, funny and pleasant. Their adventures are full of great ideas for world-building.

But in the end this is what I lacked. World. Something more than characters, which isn't a disadvantage, as books driven by characters are great, too. But this one fel more like a TV series synopsis, there's little description and many dialogs, which didn't manage to make its story feel full.

I'm sure a lot of people will fall in love with this silly story of a (un)dead poet and very much alive nun, but sadly, it wasn't for me.
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This was a fun and interesting fantasy book. The ambience was perfect, the slight steampunk touch, we feel that we could live in that world, or at least enjoy visiting it.

The characters were also good and well written, especially Imogen and Maeve, but also many of the supporting characters.

It was a pleasure to read, and I recommend it to all that enjoy cozy fantasy books.


Made a quick break with some chick lit, and then returned to a Netgalley novel. This was completely different than the previous one, it was a cosy fantasy. I really like these type of fantasy books, which warm our hearts and are standalone and not the start on an infinite series.

In this one we have Maeve, from the Sisterhood of Good Death, who dedicates her life to help lost souls cross to the other side. Their moto is “live a good life, so you can have a good death”, and Maeve’s life is quiet and predictable. Imogen Madrigal was a poet and was killed a year before. She has now been brought back to something resembling life and is determined to find out who killed her. We have a great atmosphere, a mystery to solve, some light magic, all set with a Victorian background. A steampunk vibe.

This was a debut novel for this author, and I enjoyed it very much. It had some things that could be improved, especially the pacing at some points, but the characters were very likeable, and we want to know how the story progresses and what will be their fate. If you like a cosy mystery fantasy, with some steampunk vibes, you cannot go wrong with this book.
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