Cover Image: The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal

The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The Untimely Undeath of
Imogen Madrigal - Grayson Daly
I had no idea what to expect from this book when I requested it on netgalley. I just thought the title was cool and liked the cover but let me tell you, it's such a good book. It took me a little time to get into at first, mainly because I was trying to get my head around the world building, but once the plot kicked in I really couldn't put this down. The characters are so varied and interesting, and all written so wonderfully and believably. There's forbidden romance, supernatural themes, masked balls, sapphic rep, and so much more! The plot was very strong too, though at some points I found the pacing a little slower, but never did I lose my engagement fully.
Perfect for pride month, if you like books with ghosts and gays, you should definitely go ahead and pick this up!
Was this review helpful?
Maeve is a Sister of Good Death, a nun who ensures that everyone experiences the death they deserve, presiding over last moments, funeral rites and the odd exorcism. So when she bumps into Imogen Madrigal, a restless spirit who insists Madve  help her figure out what happened to her and why she is ‘undead’, she embarks on an adventure that uncovers secrets, not just about Imogen but also about herself. 

The pacing of this book took me a while to get into but I am glad I stuck with it. It’s a while before any real action happens but when it does all the threads tie together so well that I was actually glad the book was pieced together the way it was. Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed about this book was how female heavy the book is and how this brought new nuances to the plot. In particular the themes of sisterhood and patriarchy. This book is brilliant for those who want a more modern feel to their historic gothic fiction.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely loved this book! I am a sucker for most things that feature women falling in love with each other, but this novel truly exceeded my expectations. From the characters to the plot to the setting, I was hooked from the first scene all the way to the end. 

The novel is set in a small island town that’s a bit spooky but also incredibly cozy - exorcisms and seances abound, but there are also copious amounts of tea drinking and poetry. The setting is kind of like an alternate universe pre-telephone era, jam-packed with supernatural and sci-fi elements to keep it interesting. Lush prose maintains the gorgeous atmosphere throughout, and I would happily read ten more books set in this same universe.

Most importantly, the romance absolutely won my heart. The relationship was well developed, easy to root for, and they communicate! The side characters were amazing as well; they helped create what is all and all a very enjoyable, very queer read.

Thank you to Netgalley and BooksGoSocial for my copy.
Was this review helpful?
Maeve works with the Sisterhood of Good Death and likes that she can help spirits cross-over to the other side.  That is, she liked it until she meets a woman who turns out to be a wraith, Madrigal, who has returned to obtain justice for her murder.

Madrigal blackmails Maeve into helping her solve her murder.  The sisters of the Sisterhood of Good Death do not like poets and Maeve was one.  

I couldn't relate to the adventures the ladies went on and didn't find their search credible.  I don't care who a person's love interest is, but I don't want to read about a love triangle and jealousy of the characters, unless it directly relates to the adventure, which it didn't seem to. 

I did like the writing, but couldn't get into the narrative, I will try again later. 

I was given the opportunity to read this title from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Maeve is a nun and a member of the sisterhood of the good death. She helps people get rid of ghosts or spirits with her sisters. Unlike other nuns, her sisterhood allows some frivolity.
The book is set somewhere in the UK, Im guessing about 100 years ago.
She meets Imogen while sweeping her grave and they try to find her killer. 
Most of the things in the book are old timey (motorcar, old kind of camera) but then Maeve says “fuck”, which I’m pretty sure was not used at that time. Seems to be trying to be a mix of historical fiction and fantasy but missing the mark on both. 
Imogen is unable to speak and seems to be in between living and death, so she communicates first with pencil and paper and later through a pocket telegraph which works like texting on a nokia 3310. 
The book has so much inner monologue and details which makes the pace of the book glacial at times. Nothing was really new or interesting to me, so i dnfed a third in.
Was this review helpful?
I LOVED this book! I was hooked from the very first paragraph which set the reader up for the tone of the world while simultaneously provoking the audience to ask the exact same questions the characters would ask for the rest of the book.

Lenorum had some fantastic world building, it was cool to see how different segments of society had such different reactions to the question "if ghosts were real how would their presence be acknowledged?" I also greatly appreciated the significant amount of tea-talk in the book, especially as a recurring plot device.

As someone who has studied surrealism, I loved the inclusion of automatism into the plot. I liked the subtle change from tapping into one's unconscious mind to produce automatic texts to opening your consciousness to allow for others to take over the writing, it felt like it really fit into the internal logic of the world. I wish there had been some discussion of automatism's connection to the surrealist movement, as I found it interesting that the Sisters of Good Death would openly embrace a strategy that in our world is so strongly founded in the pursuit of arts.

Would read again!

Thank you to Grayson Daly and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my thoughts!
Was this review helpful?
The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal has an extremely fascinating concept of metaphysical mystery of courts, sisters of a convent, and ghosts. Maeve is a sister from a convent who helps souls transition to the afterlife. She encounters Imogen, who is dead or undead. Who is she? There starts our mystery.

I really was excited to read this book. But unfortunately, this book didn't land with me. It's extremely prose heavy and just seems extremely dragged. I really liked all the diverse characters, but they lacked depth. There's a lot of world building, which is nice, but at the same time, it feels way too stretched. Maybe since I read it while I was sick, I didn't have patience to finish the novel, I am not sure. This is an extremely slow paced novel, which unfortunately didn't work for me. 

Thank you, BooksgoSocial and Netgalley, for the book.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars - A novel that takes its readers on a captivating journey into a realm where metaphysics, mystery, and gothic romance intertwine to create an introspective and enchanting narrative.

“The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal” is a story set in a gothic, fictional island city called Lenorum, introducing me to a diverse cast of characters: from nuns to poets and eventually to scientists. At the heart of the story is the protagonist, Sister Maeve, a member of the Sisterhood of Good Death, who basically helps ghosts to cross over the veil. Maeve encounters Imogen, a murdered poet who exists in a peculiar state between life and death, and they strike a bargain to address the waning influence of Maeve's convent in guiding lost souls to the afterlife. In return, Maeve agrees to assist Imogen in unraveling the mystery surrounding the latter’s murder.

I think one of this book’s greatest strengths lies in Daly's skillful portrayal of character growth and development. The protagonist, Maeve, is a relatable and compelling character whose personal journey serves as the emotional core of the story for me. Her growth and transformation, as she ventures deeper into the world of poets, are beautifully portrayed—and eventually, I find myself emotionally invested in her gradual discovery of her own desires. The supporting characters, such as Orion and Shavani, are equally well-rounded—each with their own conflicts and theatrics, adding depth and complexity to the narrative.

Another highlight of this book for me is the world-building; it is nothing short of breathtaking. Lenorum is vividly brought to life, with its gothic landscapes, energy, and beings that defy conventional understanding. The author's descriptive prose paints a vivid picture, immersing me in an utterly fascinating realm.

And while this book is a metaphysical exploration laced with mystery and suspense, the author also weaves an enthralling tale of romance. I find the way Maeve's feelings evolve for Imogen to be particularly compelling and fun.

In conclusion, "The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal" is a mesmerizing metaphysical romance that combines imaginative world-building, thought-provoking metaphysical concepts, and captivating storytelling. I thought it is a book that could challenge readers to expand their perception of reality while offering an enthralling romantic adventure filled with self-discovery. For fans of metaphysical fiction and gothic romance alike, this book is a must-read that will leave a lasting impression, and it may also inspire contemplation long after the final page is turned.

Special thanks to NetGalley for my complimentary copy in return for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A weird, fascinating fantastical world where ghosts wander the earth, with interesting worldbuilding and jobs so central to people's lives that they are almost castes or sects—the point of view character of this novel is Maeve, who is a Sister of Good Death, a convent focused on making sure spirits rest and at odds with both Poets (who rile up spirits with seances) and Scientists (who do even weirder stuff). Maeve meets Imogen, a dead Poet who has somehow returned to her body, and there's a lot of pretty good mystery and suspense, and a developing romance, but the nuances of the fantasy world are the main draw.
Was this review helpful?
I went into this book expecting a queer ghost story but I got so much more! The characters were well written and lovable. Would actually love to see a sequel about Maeve’s sisters, they were so intriguing.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal immediately drew me in with its summary. It has a lot of things I am very, very into — whaling towns, death priests, hauntings, poets with flowy shirts, and not one but two “dress up and sneak into a fancy party” scenes.

It wasn’t a perfect read; I think the whole mystery plot is a bit weak, and there isn’t actually a lot of investigation going on. But I was having enough fun just hanging around with the characters and enjoying the costume descriptions that I didn’t really mind. I liked the atmosphere of the setting but it didn’t feel quite fully realized. (Like, is there a government?) I was pretty comfortable with the 19th century whaling town vibes when it would suddenly throw in stuff like steampunk cell phones and other things that didn’t feel quite integrated into the world.

Overall, though, I had a fun time reading this book, and it provided pretty much exactly what I was looking for. If you’re looking for a fun, easy, very queer fantasy read, then I think you’ll have a good time with this book
Was this review helpful?
In all honesty, I thought this book was going to be another overhyped tiktok type book— one that sounds really promising but is just bad when you start to read it. I am so happy I was wrong. 

This is dark academia-supernatural-sapphic-gothic-steampunk-poetry-murder-mystery-drama.... it's awesome. While that might look like a lot to cram into one novel, it works. The setting is somewhat historically familiar at first but then it veers sideways several times, however it still makes sense. They have hand held telegraph machines that basically work like cell phones and it doesn't take away from the story at all. If anything, it adds to it. 

As far as characters go, Mauve and Imogen are fun. They don't have that annoying miscommunication crap that a lot of young adult novels have which automatically ranks them high in my mind. The supporting cast was good. Not necessarily great, but good. You can definitely tell that Mauve's three friends are side characters, but they weren't bad side characters, if you know what I mean? There's the knitting one, the politics one, and the music one, but they're still nice and three-dimensional enough. 

The plot was a little predictable, but that's part of the charm too. If you've read or watched enough murder mysteries, it becomes pretty easy to pick up on what will happen next, but it's still a fun reveal when you find out. I enjoyed that about this book and I think it speaks to the author truly knowing her stuff when it comes to the murder mystery genre. While The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal isn't a murder mystery the same way Agatha Christie's are (well... maybe some of them), it definitely follows a lot of the same conventions.

I'd like to touch on the religion of this book, too. It's an order of nuns in a convent with chores, prayers, habits, and vows, so, at the surface-level, it looks a lot like a parody of Christianity. Maybe it is, but that doesn't really matter. It does not have super rigid rules and it isn't shown as oppressive. I found it very refreshing the way religion was portrayed in this book, especially because it's also so queer. A queer girl choosing to be in a convent and happy with it? Maybe it's been done before, but I haven't seen it, at least not like this. I liked it. 

Maybe I could write a longer essay about the complex issues of religion and queerness and the world, but I'm not going to do that now. I will say that, as a queer person with religious trauma, it felt a bit like healing. 

TL;DR— this book is just fun. It has laugh out loud moments along with the, ya know, death stuff. I really enjoyed reading it the whole time, and I can't always say that with books, even ones I really like. It's got great ambiance (it's an island in autumn, so you know the vibes are enchanting) and really cute gay girls that I love.
Was this review helpful?

First of all, if you're into queer nuns who exorcise ghosts for a living, with a side of Nancy Drew (think CW) shenanigans then this book is for you. Secondly, if you're into falling in love with a dead (but is she really?) butch lesbian poet who was killed, and you've come up with a deal to help solve her murder, then again, this book is for you!

This book was great. I loved the characters, the storyline and the thoughts of our artist nun Meave. I love how we got to be inside her head as she started to feel feelings for Imogen. I loved the detective work done between the two main characters to find out what really happened to Imogen. I loved the found family, the support and the paranormal going on.

I wish Shivani could have told Maeve sooner what was going on with her. The whole fighting vibe between two best friends is so heartbreaking and could have been avoided :(

Grayson did a wonderful job with her queer characters, and I loved them all. (expect you know.)

Thanks, Netgalley for the ebook. I leave this review voluntarily.
Was this review helpful?
I'm going to round up to 2/5 but I'd probably just be sitting under 2 if I could do 1/2 or 3/4 stars.

I was interested in the plot and the description, there was something about it, the writing and the characters that fell flat for me. I was hoping for a gothic, spooky, murder mystery and what I got was some minor murder mystery that ended up resolving in a weird, kind of confusing confrontation and a romance that didn't totally make sense to me. 

I'll break down some issues, just based on the blurb to avoid too many spoilers.
"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." 
-I would have liked a lot more on this. The souls, hauntings and all that were actually quite minor despite being a big plot point for Maeve even in the blurb.

"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 is determined to obtain justice, whatever the cost."
- It's  not exactly fair to say 'Whatever the cost' because regularly Imogen says no to other people getting involved for their safety, doesn't pursue certain leads she is suspicious of and generally, like I said, this isn't really a murder mystery the way this sentence is making it out to be.

"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 don't actually have too many issues with that. That is more or less what happens but there isn't as much time in the court as you'd think. And it seemed like a good time. 

Onto my own non-blurb opinions!
Weirdly I think this book could have been helped by a multi POV, like Maeve and Imogen, possibly even Orion. It also would have allowed for more on the murder mystery and maybe connected the weird confrontation scene where things kick off towards the end. 

I want to be clear, this isn't a terrible book but it is a little bit of a push that I wasn't expecting. So many other reviews loved it. But there are some issues IMO.

I was confused by some of the interactions, events, pacing, character interactions, even era. The portable telegraph, which after a Google did determine was  a real thing, sounded like a phone text message screen. Very much not a portable telegraph in actual, factual history. So that had me raising an eyebrow, especially when electricity was somehow a novelty for the rich. 

The murder is really minor in terms of dramatic confrontations you'd expect from a book about a murder. But I've harped on that already. However! Because it's a bit minor compared to the budding romance, which also felt weirdly thrown in there, the big confrontation is confusing. How did a couple of the characters end up there? There's literally a whole island. How could they know, especially during a big party and apparently court confrontation with some of the sisters, exactly where to go? Again, here is where POV could have helped. 

Maeve's faith vs romance felt like a hiccup that was quickly resolved rather than a real character struggle. The same goes for whatever the disconnect between Maeve and Shivani. Like 'We'll ignore this now and be friends again!' The whole Orion/Imogen thing was like 'Here's some life changing news, we cool?' And somehow the answer was yes...? It partly felt like dropping any character depth and also just rushing to wrap things up. 

Despite all this, I'd again say it's not a terrible book but it also doesn't feel completely cleaned up and finished.
Was this review helpful?
A wonderfully quirky, Gothic paranormal story set in an alternate New England.  Spirit bothering poets and the ghost busting nuns (Sisters of Good Death) who try to sort out the poets' messes (amongst other things). Then there are the scientists who have their own unethical agenda.... A clever and very original story, with a sweet romance and fantastic characters.
Was this review helpful?
I don't think this book was for me. I found it very dry and it was hard to get into. It also may have been a combination of failed execution, not connecting to the characters and the overall tone. This might just be for a very particular reader. It didn't have enough emotion in my opinion.
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. It should have had all the elements, but failed in execution with a complete lack of emotion or connection. Let alone motivations for each character, then ultimately did not reveal much of anything - so it was a complete time-waste; in my opinion.
Was this review helpful?
"The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal" by Grayson Daly is a captivating and immersive metaphysical mystery. Daly's writing is richly imaginative and beautifully crafted, creating a darkly fantastic and atmospheric setting that comes alive on the pages. The world-building adds depth and intrigue to the narrative, captivating readers from start to finish. The characters, particularly Maeve and Imogen, are complex and well-developed. Maeve's journey from a life of devotion to questioning her own path and understanding the true meaning of living a good life is beautifully explored. Imogen's mysterious return and her determination to seek justice lend an air of suspense and urgency to the plot. Daly skillfully balances the unfolding mystery with thought-provoking reflections, providing readers with a compelling and intellectually satisfying reading experience.

Thank you to NetGalley, Nosetouch Press, and BooksGoSocial for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
Was this review helpful?
I am really sorry but I gave up at 39% I skimmed from about 30%. It seemed to me like I was reading a lot but nothing was happening. Despite the blurb sounding interesting I just didn't find that I wanted to continue to read. I didn't think the characters were very interesting, even Imogen, despite being dead. I will probably give it another go in the future but for now I'm going to stop.
Was this review helpful?
The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal was absolutely phenomenal! Daly creates a thrilling murder mystery, paranormal with a unique magic system. Maeve is a Sister of Good Death and her life turns upside down as she meets Imogen Madrigal, the not yet dead, but not alive, poet. The two team up to uncover the truth of Imogen’s murder, their relationship was absolutely gripping and had me rooting for them the entire time. 

The characters are interesting, charming, and very well-written. The development of their relationship was paced well, I was hooked the whole time, and did not feel forced at all — I love a slow burn, especially if it is queer. 

The plot and storyline was very unique, one of the many reasons that kept me hooked to the book — I could not put it down! The world building and magic system was also interesting  and creative, unlike any I have read before. 

Thank you for the opportunity to leave an honest review!
Was this review helpful?