Cover Image: The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal

The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal

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Maeve is a sister of the good death, a nun who has dedicated her life to helping spirits find peace in the afterlife. When she is approached by Imogen, a poet who is not quite a ghost, she agrees to help her solve the mystery of her unusual existence and learn who murdered her.

The vibes in this book are spectacular! I have trouble putting into words what category this book falls under. It’s got ghost hunting, science fiction inventions, romance, murder mystery, and the most fantastical descriptions. This is not the sort of reading I have been tending towards lately, but I am so glad I picked it up. I fell in love with all the characters we meet, the grand setting descriptions, and the overall pacing of the story. The relationships develop at a reasonable pace and elements of the story are revealed slowly. Something I really appreciated was the LGBT representation! This is the perfect story for someone who is wants a unique murder mystery story for late fall vibes.
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The undead solving their own murder? Sign me up! 
The story is beautifully written and I felt myself getting more and more attached to our main characters and their love story! 
There are some parts of the lore that I found myself wanting to fully understand but as Stella K’s review on goodreads suggested - I sat back and enjoyed the ride! 
A great queer based adult fantasy book!
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This book was excellent!! Such great gothic vibes. I loved the use of seemingly modern technology but done in such a way that it doesn't take you out of the gothic setting. The characters are lovely and you get very attached. Such a fun read, I took my time with it and really enjoyed it. The cover and title are also just so intriguing. Really great all around!!
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Thank you so much netgalley for an advanced copy of this book!

Everything about this book was compelling. From the characters to the subject matter, it was hard to find anything I didn't like about this book! Maeve and Imogen are so fun to read about and get to know and I'm so happy that I was able to enjoy such a lovely book. 

Maeve dealing with her religious guilt about enjoying life is something I think aot of people will understand and Imogen just struggling to keep living is something I feel a lot more will appreciate. 

Overall, a very good light read for when you want loveable characters, an interesting premise and a touch of mystery! Would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting a queer fantasy full of love, tea, and art!
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Seeing the dead is not unusual for Sister Maeve of the Order of the Good Death. She and her sisters are used to being called out to deal with hauntings all over Lenorum. But the (un)dead woman Maeve meets after a long afternoon of grave tending is, well, a lot more solid than most of the dead folks she normally deals with. This one is also a lot more coherent and persuasive than the others, so much so that she convinces Maeve to help her solve her own murder. That meeting develops into one of the most unusual love stories I’ve read in a long time. Readers who love impossible romances, twisty mysteries, and original settings will adore Grayson Daly’s The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal.

Where Maeve is rather sheltered (apart from all the exorcisms), Imogen is (was) a worldly poet. Before her murder, she was a rising poet who had just been voted a coveted position among Lenorum’s 100 laurel-bearing poets. To make her art, she sought out sensation and experience. Maeve, meanwhile, had learned to make do with plain clothes, cheap tea, and sketching. She’s no natural detective but she is compassionate enough and curious enough to take on the job.

Maeve falls quickly into Imogen’s world, much more than even she expected. Although the Sisters of the Good Death are supposed to shun entanglements and delights that might tether them to this world (which might interfere with their efficient dispatching of ghosts to whatever awaits them on the other side), Imogen’s world of art and emotion sparks something inside the nun. The poets capture moods and scenes Maeve would never have experienced. The people she meets are free to pursue their own interests. The tea is so much better! There’s also something in Imogen that gets Maeve sparking in another way, too.

While Imogen and Maeve grow more deeply entangled, Daly spins out a strange fantastical world of poets, land-grabbing nobles, ill-advised scientific experimentation, and questions about the ethics of ghosts’ unfinished business. There’s also a knock-the-socks-off ending that had me speed-reading to find out how all the impossibilities would end. I loved every moment of The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal.
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Somewhere between paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy, The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal is a delightful, genre-defying read that doesn't let its graver themes dampen its wit.'

It's not often that I laugh out loud within minutes of starting a novel, but in this instance, I did. I expected a queer ghostly love story, and on that front, it undeniably delivers; what I did not expect, and was pleasantly surprised by, was its poignancy in touching on identity, trauma, disability, relationships with religion versus spirituality, and self-discovery. Don't be mistaken; it's a snappy, soapy read that never takes itself more seriously than it ought to, but there are moments of such sincerity and insight that I found my eyes burned. It stands a cut above in its knowledge that simply because it's entertaining doesn't mean it shouldn't have something to say, a thing winked at within the story itself as characters examine their biases and relationships with art and artists in all forms.

The characters, the heart of the novel, are beautifully rendered. The world, too, is beautifully built, and I fell in love with it; it does not shy from tossing you in the deep end and allowing you to get your bearings of the world as you follow the characters through it, a thing most appreciated by one tired of being hand-held to a distracting extent. Do be aware, though, that if you are a reader who prefers to have your lore codex readily available, explained in-depth and upfront, you will need to simply sit back and trust the ride in this instance.

The plot itself is, perhaps, less important; it is also arguably the least original aspect of an otherwise one-of-a-kind ride. Certain reveals would not be un-at-home in a daytime drama; the climax amps up through a series of poor calculations, accidents, and convenient coincidences that wake one slightly from the narrative dream for a moment. It ultimately recovers and delivers a beautifully executed ending, so it cannot be called unsatisfying. Similarly, the development of the primarily romance feels shaky and strangely paced, though it's lovely once it finds its footing. On the note of pacing, however, the narrative unfurls itself well; exposition and story progression are invisible and seamless as they are experienced, a marker of any well-crafted novel, even more impressive in a debut.

The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal is witty, funny, and carries the bite of depth and complexity that elevates it beyond its campy premise to resonate in ways not often accomplished with such airy ease. A fast and fun read, it delivers a delightful ride to those willing to sit back and surrender to it.

(Accessed via NetGalley)
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You might like this book if any of the below appeal to you:
• Death order of nuns.
• Disability rep (mutism).
• Fishing/whaling town.
• Is it magic or is it science?
• Found family.
• Murder mystery.
• Queer romance. (One pepper on the spice scale.)
• Victorian setting.

(Let me preface my review by saying I'm a tough rater, so my 3 is really like a standard reader's 4 or 4.5. Why am I this way? A bad childhood, probably, but whatever. 🤷🏼‍♀️)

The cover caught my eye when scrolling through NetGalley, and the premise sounded promising, so I downloaded and started reading without having heard anything about the book on any social media platform. And it was good! It's a fresh/unique light fantasy story. And, one of my fave things, it's queer! 🌈

What keeps this from being a 4 star read for me, is that it read as young adult, even though all the main characters are adults, and I'm like 95% certain this is being marketed as adult? It's a bookish pet peeve of mine when books that should be young adult are listed as adult, and also the other way around, when books that are adult are tried to be passed off as young adult.

However! I would still recommend this book though, just adjust your expectations accordingly. 👍🏻

And of course, thank you to NetGalley for the e-arc! 🩷
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This book was really enjoyable. It definitely reminded me a lot of Cemetery Boys. Maeve and Imogen were such great characters. I loved reading them. The story was also very interesting, though at times a little slow. It’s definitely worth the read.
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Thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

In a world where death and magic and the power of words coexist in a delightful way, Maeve is a Sister of Good Death doing her best to be...a good one. But when she encounters the half-dead Poet Imogen Madrigal, she finds herself journeying beyond the walls and rules of her convent to help solve a murder. What does she find? Ghosts, some debauchery, lesbian pining, and herself. 

I really enjoyed this book for a few reasons -- the tenderness with which each character is written (except maybe Shivani, you and I have some beef, girl!) and the framing of this world through the lens of death and religion. I thought each side character had such heart -- Orion, I love you -- and if anything, I wanted more of Maeve's lovely sisters! The idea of death and words, poetry specifically, being at odds with science is so interesting and I liked thinking about the way the society in this world functions. 

I do think that if I had to have a critique it would be the actual mystery -- I think the intersection of science and faith/magic is just not very interesting to me, and when the final climax came I was like, okay, great, get me back to the lesbians please! Oh, also, more Oleander. I would like more of them, thank you very much. 

4 stars!
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This was one of the most unique books I think I have ever read, I thought it was like an Agatha Christie novel but with fantasy and horror sprinkled on top, I thought the writing was engaging but at some parts it felt a bit like there was too much going on at once, nevertheless I enjoyed reading this and would recommend to fantasy/horror readers.
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Thank you to Nosetouch Press and NetGalley for providing this ARC!

The Untimely Death of Imogen Madrigal centers Maeve, a nun of the Sisterhood of Good Death who has devoted her life to helping disturbed spirits find peace and resolve their unfinished business. When she encounters our titular character—certainly not dead but also far from alive—she agrees to help her investigate her murder in exchange for financial support of her convent. The mystery swirls through the parties of the hedonistic poets or the academies of the vaguely unethical scientists and is anchored by Maeve’s commitments as a Sister and the community she has at the convent.

The novel was most precarious in the beginning, where some awkward punctuation choices (ie. overuse of commas) and an under-realized setting made me unsure about how the mystery would fare. From the start, it was difficult for me to imagine and understand Lenorum—where is it in the greater magical land? Is the presence of so many ghosts a quirk of this city or common to the entire world? Is the Sisterhood of Good Death a worldwide organization or just the convent? It took a while to acclimate to the atmosphere without the context, and I still feel little connection to the setting.

However, once the two main characters begin to work together in earnest, the book absolutely hits its stride. The mystery wasn’t overly twisty, but it had a well-balanced rhythm where new pieces of information were uncovered at a compelling pace and each new attempt at discovering more provided an interesting new scene or character. If you’re looking for a surprise ending, this probably isn’t the book for you—the book likely falls into the “cozy mystery” type of novel rather than anything with more thrill. There is indeed quite a lot of discussion about tea. But I was pleasantly surprised with how the story kept me engaged and interested through some combination of agreeable writing and creative new scenes. The exorcism scenes in particular were incredibly well-done; I could feel the action and emotion happening as I read.

Maeve and Imogen are both perfectly serviceable characters. I appreciated how Maeve was sketched with more depth than “bookish, gentle ingénue” (ie. one of the least appealing character types to me) and thought Imogen worked fine as an audacious but vulnerable opposite lead. Since Maeve was the main POV character, we get to see both her kindness and her rationality, befitting both her chosen role in life and her blossoming understanding of her desires for her future. Their romantic feelings sprouted rather quickly for my preferences, but they were both enjoyable characters, as were the remaining members of the cast.

A sincerely pleasant read and promising debut for a solid 3.5 stars—rounded down here because I enjoyed it more than I was excited by it.
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This was a certainly an extremely unique premise . I was invested in the story fully until about 50 percent in , 
As the story progressed, it became bizarre in my opinion and additionally had a lot of things occurring at once. As a result, this made it difficult for me to stay interested in the story , and ultimately decided not to follow through to the end . Despite my experience, I definitely feel readers of gothic ,horror, and fantasy with a unique storyline will love this book
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How to describe this utterly captivating book? I’m not sure but I’ll try. It begins when Imogen, who is a poet, is gruesomely murdered and her throat is slashed. A year later, Sister Maeve - who is part of an order of nuns who, basically, help the dead cross over the veil - is spending the evening in a cemetery as part of her duties. Then, she hears something. What? Who? It was undead Imogen, of course. Maeve promises to help solve Imogen’s murder. 

The world building in this novel was exquisite, the premise unique, the characters were enchanting, and the ending superb. You can tell the author really knows the island city of Lenorum and these characters well, but not only that, the author loves them, too. I could not get enough of Maeve with her fellow sisters, whom she clearly both liked and loved. This was found family at its best. The criminal elite were nefarious and villainous in the very best way. Oh, and Orion! Oof, what a character. I looked forward to each of his scenes. The love, the loyalty, the betrayals in this book were exceptionally well done. My only complaint … that there isn’t a sequel out already for me to dive into. I surely hope there will be and I’ll be first in line to read it. (This includes a sequel in world starring different characters, as long as some favorites pop in to say hello). Oh, make that two complaints…why does The Bookshop Teashop not exist in real life? The Bookshop Teashop is the store of my dreams. Books! Tea! I want to go and I want to go right now. Okay, that isn’t a fair complaint, but I still wish it existed. 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I highly recommend this dark fantasy with a side of mystery and a dash of romance. Solid five star book. 

Thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for an arc of this book.
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