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"
Average rating from 112 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!
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you to NetGalley and Grayson Daly for allowing me an early access copy.
Now to begin with I really struggled to get in to this book. I read a few chapters and had to put it down for a while.
But I am so glad I went back to it!
I loved Imogen, her character development was so unexpected to me, I was t an huge fan at first but by the end I think I loved her the most. The relationship between her and Mauve was just beautiful.
The book definitely became a lot more exciting as it went on, there were some truly fun scenes to read.
It ended well but I could happily read more about these characters.
Part ghost story, part mystery, all heart! I loved the magical realist world Daly created for us and the endearing characters who filled it. Thank you for taking Unbury Your Gays to the next level and for looking at death through a lens not of loss...but of transformation.
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.
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.
Thank you NetGalley and BooksGoSocial!
Amazing concept and amazing execution. Imogen is such a complex and intricate character and fits so well together with Maeve. The plot was what made me want to read it, but the queer rep was but ultimately sold it to me. I saw the words queer ghostbusting nuns and just had to read it!
Not only are the characters fantastic queer characters, but the plot is very well written and explained fantastically. This is a book that could get confusing really quickly or drag on, but I'm glad that it flows extremely well.
This was a book I knew very little about before going in, but I think it was one of the most enjoyable reads of the year for me.
We follow young nun Maeve in the Sisterhood of the Good Death in a fantasy world that has elements of early 20th century obsessions with seances, ouija boards and spirits. In this world, Maeve's convent aim to peacefully help spirits pass on here possible, but they are in a constant fight with the Poets of this world who are seemingly agitating spirits through their seance's, leaving them with a higher chance of remaining and turning violent.
The convent live by the code that living a good life means a good death, so some of the younger sisters regularly leave convent grounds to visit tea houses and bars at night. They only aim to not become like the 'hedonistic' Poets and Artists.
(Un)fortunately for Maeve, she soon becomes entangled in not only Poets, Artists, but also Scientists, the social elite and a maybe not-quite-alive but not-quite-dead Imogen Madrigal, a beautiful semi-famous Poet who is trying to solve her own sort-of murder. There's questionable morals, scientific ethics, guns, and harpoons; which is a lot for a woman in her early 20s to take on after living in a convent for over a decade.
This is ultimately sapphic, and it shows the heart but often messy first time crushes between sisters and other acquaintances. The mystery was lacking somewhat for me, but the characters and relationships between the characters really made this book something I utterly devoured.
(For any critical role fans who want a sapphic Laudna-adjacent character, check out Imogen Madrigal and you'll be in love)
It's a wonderful thing to fall into a world where some things are familiar--tea, books--and others are not--poets having enormous power, the nuns of the Sisters of the Good Death, and more. Daly creates a fabulous and original world and characters for this novel, which, despite dealing with the half-undead, is charming and cozy and delightful. It's got Victorian plot devices used in excellent ways, including land-grabbers, lost siblings, and unexpected romance. Make your own cup of tea so no one can poison you, and settle in for a good read.
Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me access to this arc.
4 stars / 5
Things I love:
Well written characters.
Beautiful world building.
Absolutely loved the plot.
Things I didn’t love:
Would have been better as a dual pov.
The Sapphic longing! The death obsessed society! The idea of a good death! The poets as hedonists! THE SAPPHIC LONGING!
I have a soft spot for stories that explore death in positive ways and if you add a wonderfully diverse cast of well-rounded characters, then I truly couldn't be happier. I was deeply attached to Maeve and Imogen and loved the way Daly wrote the conclusion to their story. This is easily one of my favorite reads of the year so far! Perfect for anyone who enjoys Gothic supernatural stories and lesbians.
Thank you to Netgalley for the E-ARC!
*Review also appears on Goodreads + Storygraph
It’s a bit cozy, a bit quirky, but a lot of steampunk queer joy. It’s a mystery romance with unique world building that is both totally different than The Undertaking of Heart and Mercy but also sort of reminded me of those vibes? Idk I think if you read this book you’ll get what I mean. I was honestly obsessed with the world building and especially this idea of poets being these very sophisticated, snazzy, and powerful people. Most the poets I know of are big old nerds so this was fun to imagine. idk there’s also something very cool about a religion that revolves around death and ghosts. Not sure how I feel about it all on a deeper level but for this story it was extremely fun to read about.
I had a very hard time with Maeve in the beginning but I really started to like her to longer she was with Imogene. The writing of their relationship and how they slowly brought out the best in each other was so well done. I maybe could have done with some more emotional heart to hearts - but that’s just me bc I like big emotional conversations.
Anyways, the found family was equally lovely to read! Orion especially was an absolute delight. The mystery was extremely well set up but in the end it was the weakest part- I think I just needed more interactions and scenes with all the people involved for me to really feel the stakes. Anyways- if you like a weird but very fun mystery romance then you’ll like this I think.
Thanks again to NetGalley and Nosetouch Press for this Arc!
This story was so quirky and fun to read! I loved the setting, especially the portrayal of the convent, and the worldbuilding of how the society was set up was really unique. The dynamic between Imogen and Maeve was so fun to explore with them, and all of the secondary characters (Orion, Thalia, Frances and Shivani) were all super nuanced and compelling to read about. I did feel like the end was a bit rushed and could have had more time to unwrap and explain everything, but I really enjoyed the way that Maeve's character grew throughout the story but still stayed true to herself.
Thank you Netgalley for this advanced copy. This was an interesting mix of sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal. Had me laughing, rushing through chapters, and anxious to know what was next!
This was much more fun than I thought it would be! I expected something grimdark, where everything is foggy and sad and slightly disgusting.
Instead we get Sister Maeve, from the Sisters of Good Death, and Imogen Madrigal trying to uncover the latters murder and also the reason why she isn't dead.
What we get is very fun worldbuilding. A port city with a connected island. A nunnery that believes a good life leads to a good death. A steampunky vibe but with modern society (same sex marriage, for example, gender neutral pronouns, my man Orion with his nipple piercings, high heels and lipstick) without it feeling forced. A science vs. faith plot that doesn't hammer home the fact that Christianity Is The Only Way(TM).
All in all, a very fun read! I really liked Maeve as a main character, and her character growth by the end (that I won't spoil, but I liked her talk with Mother Superior in the end), and the colorful cast!
The only negative point I have is, that the solving of Imogens undeath never felt really pressing. It was certainly the main plotpoint, but it was really just the two of them bumbling along with no clear deadline, or other reasons for it to feel like it mattered that they found out who did it. Usually, you have a "find out by day x or something horrible happens", but this novel doesn't have that (and when a somewhat important deadline is introduced, it doesn't feel like it's all that important and deadline-y). Unfortunately, that makes it somewhat lukewarm for a mystery book.
Ultimately a fun read that lacked a bit of urgency in its plot development, which unfortunately makes it somewhat forgettable.
@NetGalley & BooksGoSocial: Thank you guys for this ARC!
I loved this book! It was so great I will definitely have to get a physical copy to be able to read it again. I really enjoyed the mystery and if you have ever watched something where the ghost is trying to figure out what happened to themselves and enjoyed it then this is a book for you! I will definitely be recommending it to all of my book loving friends!
I was scrolling through Netgalley, because yes, I do have a serious issue when it comes to thus site, when this cover caught my eye. It reminded me of the type of glamour that The Great Gatsby tried to convey, and so my interest was piqued. The description of this book was so much more than that, and I'll admit that I was quickly lured in.
The untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal is a warm and cozy, fast-paced read that cannot be held down by one genre. It has elements of magical realism, murder mystery, romance, and the paranormal. The story features so many queer characters, and it is so refreshing to see a novel where being queer is completely normal and accepted in this fictional society.
I'm not the type of reader to enjoy historical fiction, but I find that I really enjoyed the ambiguous time period at the heart of this story. It leans towards a historical time period, but features some modern technologies which helped the story keep that otherworldly air that makes this a great escapist read without the difficulty that sometimes comes with fantasy novels.
But above all else, I think my favourite part of this novel is the character relationships. I love the relationship between Maeve and Imogen throughout the novel, and the friendship of the sisters in the convent was so heart-warming. Though they have their faults and their relationship is not perfect, Maeve has built her own family with these friends, and I think this is just a group that's hard not to love. Also, Orion was such a delight to have in the story. He is ridiculous and funny, he is charming, very full of himself, and being a poet, he has his own way of words.
If you like magical realism, cozy mysteries, and elements of found family, i cannot urge you enough to read this book. Throughout the story, the phrase "A good life is made up of good moments" is repeated by different characters, changing meaning throughout the story as we see the characters grow and discover themselves. I am very happy to have been able to read some of Maeve and Imogen's good moments.
The untimely undeath of Imogen Madrigal is a Good Book, I liked it. Different to other ghoststories. Unexpected contens.
I absolutely loved the gothic vibes throughout the books and I found both main characters so endearing and easy to read! I thought the premise was super interesting, and the found family warmed my heart. The mystery aspect of the book was so well set up, even though I would've personally liked more stakes at the end.
It's an overall great read !
The beginning of this book started off a bit slow and was a little hard to get into but about a third of the way through it really picked up. I absolutely loved our two main characters and how they interacted with each other. The way they learned to communicate through the challenges they faced was so innovative and wonderful.
I loved how their relationship developed and became closer as the book progressed. I also enjoyed how they interacted with Orion. His interactions with every character were so funny and made me laugh every time.
Overall, this was a really solid debut and I look forward to what the author puts out in the future.
This was a great story. It definitely got slow and hard to read at times and there were times that the budding love story got boring but still a very interesting and unique love story. I was a little underwhelmed with the ending battle compared to some of the higher action parts of the book before. But I was rooting for the main couple with such ferocity. Highly recommend reading!
Finally a page-turning book!
I like it a lot. Couldn't put it down. I really enjoy the setting, the plot, and the character development. I would have loved if Imogen got also a chance to 'heal' from her throat injury, but I guess for her being 'alive' and well at the end is ultimately a win-win. This book has the potential to develop a sequel in no time. I like the idea of the Sister of Good Death. This is something I'd really love to know more about.
Magic? Murder? THE GAYS!? Yes. Yes. And YES!
Fall into a world of urban magic where shadows reside in the secrets, but a curious coven of witches seek to uncover the truth hiding behind the shadows.
Indies books are always a sort of bet: you can find a diamond or something you won't like.
This is a diamond, a complex and well plotted story with an original idea.
Entertaining. well plotted, and compelling
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Maeve lives a cozy life as a member of a nunnery whose sworn goal is to ease the passing of wayward spirits beyond these mortal plane. Her life and worldview are challenged when she meets Imogen: a poet, whose counter cultural lifestyles the nuns abhor, and who is most importantly, undead. The two embark on an adventure to solve Imogen’s murder, and unlikely allies become something more, making Maeve reevaluate her goals as one sworn to honor the dead.
I love the atmosphere, environment, and mood of this book—the city the author creates, the characters she created. I think it would be very appealing to people who are fans of “dark academia” type content. However, I found the pacing of the mystery felt like a slog…we kept returning to characters and conflicts who we had already been directed before. It definitely isn’t for me, since I like faster paced mysteries, but I think the right kind of patient reader would get a lot from this book, especially one who enjoys spook and cute reads.
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an arc!
A lgbtq ghost story? Hell yess! This book was so much fun and I will be buying the book because first of all cozy, fun read but also I couldn’t finish the last 50 pages😭 so I will be reading the rest of it!
With a gorgeously built steam-punkish world that you’re thrown straight into and an atmosphere that is somehow both spooky and cosy in turns I loved this from the (very funny) opening paragraph. It’s a very well crafted book, although I did find the pacing a little slow at times - aside from the excellent worldbuilding the romance was a wonderful tender slow-burn, the writing is gorgeous and it’s both funny and dark in turns. I love how we’re slowly drip-fed more info about the world we’re in as we go along (exorcist nuns anyone?), and as the plot unfurls we get to know these characters more and grow to love them. With queer romance, ghosts, and a chilling mystery the novel manages to blend genres without ever feeling muddled or leaning too much one way or the other. A very enjoyable read, would recommend!
This was a great read- it reminded me of T Kingfisher’s work, especially something like the Paladin series, with a similar mix of down to earth characters, believable romance, and creepiness/magic. I also wished this was a series- I loved the idea of the Sisters of the Good Death and I hope that we get to see more stories about them!
On the whole, a spooky but heartwarming read. Highly recommended!
Intriguing premise and great characters! I will definitely need to read the rest of this! (Life got in the way and I ran out of time to finish 🥲). I love queer nun stories, and fantasy makes them that much more fun!
"The Untimely Undeath of Imogen Madrigal" is a fun murder mystery novel featuring the undead poet Imogen Madrigal and the Death nun Maeve who is trying to help her figure out the details of her murder. The two gals become close in their time investigating, and shenanigans and revelations ensue.
What I really enjoyed about this novel, was the mystery behind Imogen's murder. There are multiple suspects with different motives, but in the end it's really not so simple as a single motive. I also really enjoyed Maeve's character development and how closely tied to her art it is. The side characters were also very enjoyable, especially Maeve's small circle and the poet Laureate whose parties sound like a lot of fun. Nevertheless, what really tied the book together for me was the friendship and a blossomin something-more between Imogen and Maeve. I guess it is quite impossible not to grow close to someone whose murder you're investigating, but I still enjoyed it immensely.
One thing that really bothered me, however, was Imogen's use of a telegraph/notebook and a pencil to communicate as she is practically mute. There were times when I was torn out of the story due to this, because the image, for example, of Maeve and Imogen glancing down at their respective telegraphs in intimate moments is so funny to me. And since Imogen, as a main character, has a lot to say in the book, it was kind of jarring to always be reminded that "aha, she's not actually talking, but writing all of this". I don't think I ever got used to it, but on the other hand, it was refreshing to see this kind of twist on how a dialogue should be going.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It wasn't too intense and I could just relax while reading. The final few chapters were a little bit more difficult on my braincells, but I guess that is just a part of the murder mystery genre, when everything is tied together and brought to a close.