The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal
by Grayson Daly
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Pub Date 23 May 2023 | Archive Date 18 Jun 2023
Death is an end and a beginning.
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 is 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.
The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal delivers a metaphysical mystery in the richly imagined, darkly fantastic and urbane world of Lenorum, as Maeve comes to terms with her own path and learns what living a good life truly means.
"“I was fortunate to be able to read this novel early, and I think Grayson Daly's got a real facility with language and tight storytelling. This big book explores the modern dark fantasy world of Lenorum, which evoked 19th century New England for me in many ways, and centers around the exploits of Sister Maeve, a nun with the Sisterhood of Good Death.
This monastic order is tasked with assisting the unquiet dead in finding lasting peace as part of the cosmology of this world. Maeve's otherwise by-the-numbers life is thrown a curve when she encounters and, ultimately, investigates the apparent passing of Imogen Madrigal, who encounters Maeve as a sort of revenant, a tangible apparition with a spirit so strong that even death couldn't keep her at bay for long.
I have to mention that Lenorum is a world divided between faithful adherents of the Good Death, as well as the Poets' Court (who operate with a licentious kind of worldly esteem and cultural power that I'm sure any poets today would greatly envy), as well as the Academy of Sciences (who often come off as nearly-mad scientist fussbudgets). The Poets are a decadent and cosmopolitan lot, self-assured in their place at the apex of societal significance, while the Academy of Sciences grumblingly work their own miracles of technology, and the forlorn Sisterhood seeks to offer a theologically occult balm to the suffering of the world.
Lenorum is a world in transition as those three factions grind gears and clash, colliding around the personage of Imogen Madrigal, who is at the heart of it all, eager to solve the mystery of her own death. Without wanting to put any spoilers in the mix in this review, I can say that Maeve's struggles for self-identity (the clash between a well-honed sense of duty with her own personal feelings that grow for the dashingly charismatic Imogen) deliver an intriguing journey from start to finish in Daly's capable hands.
Being a fan of robust world-building, I think Daly swam deeply in Lenorum, and the sense of place is very strong in this story, which manages a tightrope walk between dark and brooding themes and a kind of retrograde sprightliness rooted in Maeve's deep attachments to the Sisterhood and her friends (who double as her family), human companionship, and a marked love for tea. The warmth and love between Maeve and her sisters is apparent, even as it makes Maeve seem particularly innocent, especially when contrasted with the ribald worldliness of Imogen.
Daly's fondness for these characters is apparent in the storytelling, which I wouldn't necessarily classify as a love story, so much as a darkly romantic (and Romantic) fable, although love absolutely plays a key part of the narrative within the superstructure of philosophy, theology, and the occult. There's a hopefulness to the story that offsets the ever-present specter of death that hovers throughout, hand-in-hand with the macabre. I'll be curious what Daly does with future works, whether in Lenorum or in other worlds!” —D.T. Neal, author"
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 53 members
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!!
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.
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.
A beautiful story of love, friendship, and finding yourself along the way (with a little murder-mystery thrown in). A very solid 4/5 stars.
Maeve is a Sister of Good Death, always doing for others. Imogen is a undead poet, back from the grave looking to solve her own murder. The two come together and embark on a dangerous journey, full of politics, debauchery, and self discovery.
The characters were so easy to fall in love with. The story itself was perfectly paced and, while I had theories as to who the murderer was, I was pleasantly surprised when their identity was revealed.
My only real issues with this novel is that i am a visual person, so I feel as though I would have benefited from a map of the island. My other issue is that I wanted more world building. The people take the last name of whatever profession they’re in (except for poets and the sisters that just seem to do away with surnames entirely). You have Grave, Whaler, Fisher. What other names are there and how did that system come about? Was it always that way? I also found myself longing for more history of the Sisterhood and the Poets and their seeming rivalry.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. Such an amazing debut novel for Daly.
Another book that caught me by surprise. Blending faith with science in a paranormal reality where ghosts are real and no one blinks at two women in love... Sign me up!
Took me reading about a third of the book to really start getting into it, but one I did I could not put it down. As you progress, Imogen's past gets more in focus and Maeve challenges herself in ways that change her for the better.
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I went racing into this book. Everything about it was ticking boxes for me: death, fantasy, bards, magic vs science, LGBTQ+... But I found the book started a little slowly. Though Maeve and Imogen were easy to connect with, and the world painted vividly, the story wasn't dragging me through it the way that I anticipated it would.
I don't know if this was because there was a little too much going on or if it is simply a slow burning book. Regardless, as I worked through the novel, I was entranced by the world and its characters. The uniqueness of the setting, the romance, and the murder mystery made it worth the effort and I would recommend this to fantasy fans who like things a little only the darker side.
OMG this was absolutely amazing, I was blown away, I did not think I was going to enjoy this as much as I did but I flew through this and couldn't put it down. This legitimately had everything and more: supernatural elements, ghosts, magic against science, nuns, LGBTQ+ and a murder mystery. This was such a fun book to read, I loved the world-building and especially the characters - I just wish there was more I was so sad it had to end. The romance was beautiful written and unravelled greatly as the murder gets investigated more and secrets get revealed. If you love a darker mystery mixed with romance this is the book for you and I highly recommend this I don't have a bad word to say about it.
This book surprised me - I initially wanted to read it because it the LGBT-content, but then the worl building surprised me in a good way! The characters are so well-written, they take you through the plot (which is ok, ie a bit predictable and convenient). More of this, please!
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a beautiful haunting novel, very well written.
Thank you for NetGalley and Booksgosocial for allowing me to read the arc of this great book. Grayson Daly made us all a world where death goes to reside and the island city of Lenorum sounds like a place full of surprises. Imogen is this poet and I have never read a book where a character goes out her way to expose her killer and it was quite the adventure. There’s so much humor , great world building , and we are introduced to so many amazing characters. I was for sure on the edge of my feet near the end. I will keep my eyes open in hopes there is a second book and that’s my only con. I need more of Orion for sure. If only a world like what Grayson built was real
I absolutely ADORE the premise behind this book.
The worldbuilding was top notch, and I felt that it was given to us without beating us over the head with big worldbuilding dumps.
I had to give this book a couple tries before I was able to finish it, but that’s no fault of the book’s.
Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this advanced copy! Daly manages to perfectly combine sci-fi, thriller, religion, and romance, with arts and the occult to tell the story of sister Maeve and poet Imogen Madrigal. The writing style is elegant, with descriptive imagery that easily creates a world the reader can get lost in. With fully formed characters, an interesting blend of themes, and a heartwarming queer romance, The Untimely Death of Imogen Madrigal is a uniquely compelling story that will appeal to readers of any genre.
The atmosphere of this book is truly brilliant. It reminds me of gothic Classics of the 1800's while mixing in modern tropes, language use, and pace of current spooky reads. This reminded me instantly of The London Seance Society which was a 5 star read for me. This novel is 5 stars for me as well, and I knew I would love it from the first paragraph. The descriptive language immediately immersed me within the story.
I will be ordering a physical copy for myself on release day so I can further promote on my Tik Tok and Instagram.
*Received as a free ARC*
I wasn't totally sure what to expect from this book, but I was ultimately delighted by it! There was a healthy balance of spooky supernatural mystery and sweet romance. Maeve and Imogen's dynamic was fabulous. The magic/paranormal system was innovative. It felt like a stand alone, but I'd love to read more in this world, even if it wasn't about the same pairing. I'd absolutely recommend this for fantasy and sapphic romance lovers.
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!
"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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers