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The Imaginary Corpse

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A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends. Most ideas fade away when we're done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from? Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl's imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sen A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends. Most ideas fade away when we're done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from? Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl's imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they're too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas - until Tippy runs into The Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there's nothing left but imaginary corpses. File Unders: Fantasy [ Fuzzy Fiends - Death to Imagination - Hardboiled but Sweet - Not Barney ]


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A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends. Most ideas fade away when we're done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from? Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl's imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sen A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends. Most ideas fade away when we're done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from? Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl's imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they're too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas - until Tippy runs into The Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there's nothing left but imaginary corpses. File Unders: Fantasy [ Fuzzy Fiends - Death to Imagination - Hardboiled but Sweet - Not Barney ]

30 review for The Imaginary Corpse

  1. 5 out of 5

    carol.

    Like being invited to dinner at a friend's favorite restaurant, I wanted to like this so much more than I actually did. Rather than a specific ingredient, I think it was a blend of a  problem with narrative voice and style, as well as a personal challenge with story/imagery disconnect. Explain, please, you say. I will, because there are exactly zero negative deconstructive reviews at the moment, and I think potential readers might appreciate a dose of perspective. The premise is that the imaginary Like being invited to dinner at a friend's favorite restaurant, I wanted to like this so much more than I actually did. Rather than a specific ingredient, I think it was a blend of a  problem with narrative voice and style, as well as a personal challenge with story/imagery disconnect. Explain, please, you say. I will, because there are exactly zero negative deconstructive reviews at the moment, and I think potential readers might appreciate a dose of perspective. The premise is that the imaginary friends that some people dream up/believe in (usually assumed to be children) are given so much emotion and energy that they become a sort of real. However, if trauma occurs and the human lets go of those beliefs, those constructions are snapped into "The Stillreal. The underside of the Imagination that nobody remembers to clean. It can be a rough place, but it can also be beautiful." Tippy is a detective in the Stillreal, from Playtown zone, and he also happens to be a yellow triceratops. He takes a case about some corn that won't stop screaming, and from there, discovers there's a new unknown that seems to be actually, permanently killing the friends in the Stillreal. This is Hayes' first novel, and it isn't a surprise. Narrative feels very explanatory throughout. Immersion and discovery as needed tends to be my preferred style of world-building, but it's clear Hayes leans the other way. The 'Prologue' introduces the reader, standing in as an imaginary character, to the Stillreal world. However, Detective Tippy very much continues the expository asides throughout the story. It ends up distancing me emotionally from both Tippy and the story, because it turns on my Logic Brain and I start trying to integrate new details into the world in a consistent way. It also distances the reader from the immediacy of the action. Here's a tiny bit from an early (page 7) action sequence: "The worst thing I could do right now would be to run. The second-worst thing would be to call out to whatever is making the noise. 'Hello?' If I do the unexpected, I usually catch the bad guys off-guard. More shuffling. Ordinary senses wouldn't be able to place it, but detective stuff says it's two stalls from the end, behind another nondescript wooden door." Plotting felt uneven. Because of the expository narrative bits, and Tippy's own emotional journey, along with side emotional journeys of various characters, it stops and stutters. In the last quarter, thriller-type action took over plotting and propels the reader toward the finish. I did have a problem with the character Big Business. Most of the characters we see are clearly out of children and young people's imaginations, but Big Business is... I don't know, a young OCD stockbroker's pipe dream? He sits so awkwardly in between the stuffed animals, the comic avatars, the playtime farms and play soldiers. I guess it's because of another explano-babble where Hayes adds to his imaginary friend rules, stating that parents and kids will help create nightmares in the Stillreal out of the news (p.215). Which is quite a different conceptual idea than the idea of imaginary friends/concepts that come to life from living alongside their creator for a long time, that snap into the Stillreal due to trauma. I felt like the rules of the world changed instead of enlarged, and that made me like it less. Hayes states he writes to "show people that not only are they not alone in this terrifying world,' and I did appreciate that this story had a strong theme of The Power of Friendship and connection in its many complicated forms.  But in regards to the terrifyingness of the world, this is less Jasper Fforde Early Riser and more John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things. or Michael Marshall Smith's Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence. The villain is making inroads into the Stillreal because (major theme spoiler here) (view spoiler)[he's abducting and eventually killing children in the real world. (hide spoiler)] I'd say that the reader might catch on to this before Tippy does, which is unsurprising. But it's major plot point and thus makes it feel very unsuited to younger readers. This, once again, is Nostalgia for Young Stuff, not actual appropriate for young people material.  It isn't a bad book, but it is very much a book I had to work to get through. The imagination of the world-building means it benefits from longer, attentive reading periods. I think only the best authors can make one care about their heroes while building a complex new world and still tell a good story. This feels more muddled than I like. However, there might also be a case of generational mismatch here, which may also account for some of the more enthusiastic reviews. The themes here feels very much about sadness about missing the way things used to be, and trying to do right and fair to the friends one has now. The exterior world is full of totally horrible things, but at least we can be awesome and help our friends. Two and a half imaginary friends, rounding down because they aren't very nice ones.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    The Stillreal. The underside of the Imagination that nobody remembers to clean. It can be a rough place, but it can also be beautiful. Fortunately, you have me to help you find the latter instead of waltzing face-first into the former. The name's Tippy: ex-imaginary friend and once-and-current detective. It's nice to meet you. The Stillreal - it's where Ideas go when they were loved enough to earn that capitalisation, and that includes Imaginary Friends. The catch being, of course, that they only The Stillreal. The underside of the Imagination that nobody remembers to clean. It can be a rough place, but it can also be beautiful. Fortunately, you have me to help you find the latter instead of waltzing face-first into the former. The name's Tippy: ex-imaginary friend and once-and-current detective. It's nice to meet you. The Stillreal - it's where Ideas go when they were loved enough to earn that capitalisation, and that includes Imaginary Friends. The catch being, of course, that they only go there when, for some reason, their creator can't keep them around. It's no standard world - ideas being what they are, there's no real geography, but practice enough and you'll learn to think your way around. And of course, it's where our protagonist, Tippy, calls home. Tippy is a daffodil-yellow stuffed dinosaur who was created as a detective; cynical, keen of sense, and about as hardboiled as they come. His creator being about 6 though, means there's an underlying kindness to him that takes any discordant edges and smooths them down - and also means it's rootbeers and dryers when it's time to decompress. He's one of the most endearing fictional characters I've met in a long time. And when something starts killing - really killing, not just the temporary death that's commonplace in the Stillreal - his Friends, Tippy has a mission that's going to require every ounce of skill he has. This book. This book is frigging glorious, and wonderful, and honestly, five stars aren't enough. The sheer inventiveness of this world is breathtaking - there's actually a decent number of locations that we visit, and the variety in them can't have been an easy thing for the author to pull off. And the balancing act he pulled with the tone? Just phenomenal. These characters have sad, sad, backstories. But the majority of this book takes place in the younger-skewed Playtime Town, while at the same time there's the whole "hardboiled detective noir" angle going on. It could be a complete mess in the wrong hands, and yet I genuinely never saw a clumsy movement between moods, or felt as if one thing was uncomfortably leaning over the others. Somehow, this was funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking, intriguing and even scary at moments, and yet was all managed so well that I wasn't stopping to marvel at how Tyler Hayes had managed it until I'd finished . Definitely one of the best books I've read this year, and I can't wait to see what comes next.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    This was absolutely wonderful. Think Dresden Files if Harry Dresden was a stuffed triceratops named Tippy. The StillReal is a place where imaginary friends go when their Person no longer needs them. Tippy is the local detective who takes on task of helping other Friends. He comes across a case never seen before where Friends are actually dying. This world is so imaginative, much of it created through the eyes of children. Warning, this book will bring tears to your eyes. Tyler Hayes really pulls This was absolutely wonderful. Think Dresden Files if Harry Dresden was a stuffed triceratops named Tippy. The StillReal is a place where imaginary friends go when their Person no longer needs them. Tippy is the local detective who takes on task of helping other Friends. He comes across a case never seen before where Friends are actually dying. This world is so imaginative, much of it created through the eyes of children. Warning, this book will bring tears to your eyes. Tyler Hayes really pulls at your heartstrings. He knows how to show you this world he's created through the lens of a child's perspective. And yet, this book has a much darker side. It's not really a book for children at all. It's full of so much imagination, heart, friendship, despair, and even a murder mystery that is has me wanting to sing its praises from the rooftops. Received an advance copy from Angry Robot and Edelweiss. Al thoughts are my own and in no way influenced by the aforementioned.

  4. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    Very weird but deeply engaging story of murder among rejected imaginary friends and creations, as narrated by a stuffed yellow triceratops. It's really about childhood and trauma and kindness, and it really does work. I was in tears a couple of times. Highly recommended oddball, and if you like this you really ought to read AF Harrold's The Imaginary (even if it's nominally a kids book). Very weird but deeply engaging story of murder among rejected imaginary friends and creations, as narrated by a stuffed yellow triceratops. It's really about childhood and trauma and kindness, and it really does work. I was in tears a couple of times. Highly recommended oddball, and if you like this you really ought to read AF Harrold's The Imaginary (even if it's nominally a kids book).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine Sandquist (eriophora)

    “Here are the two things you absolutely need to know. First: In case you didn’t know, you’re an idea. I’m not sure if you’re an imaginary friend or a novel’s protagonist or a mascot or what. But if you’re here, you’re an idea. Second: You were loved. You were loved enduringly and unequivocally, and that made you capital-R Real. Not an idea; an Idea. A Friend. But then – whatever just happened to your person, your creator – it happened, and it was horrible, and it affected you. I won’t pretend to k “Here are the two things you absolutely need to know. First: In case you didn’t know, you’re an idea. I’m not sure if you’re an imaginary friend or a novel’s protagonist or a mascot or what. But if you’re here, you’re an idea. Second: You were loved. You were loved enduringly and unequivocally, and that made you capital-R Real. Not an idea; an Idea. A Friend. But then – whatever just happened to your person, your creator – it happened, and it was horrible, and it affected you. I won’t pretend to know what, and I won’t ask, but whatever it was, your person couldn’t keep you around. For most ideas, that’s it, lights out. But now you. You’re Real. So… what happens to you?“ The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes is hands-down the most imaginative, fresh, and kind book I’ve read this year. It is absolutely unlike anything else I’ve read, combining the innocence and creativity of a middle grade novel with the darkness and trauma of adult fantasy. At a glance, that makes it tempting to label this book as YA or middle grade, but upon reading it, that’s clearly not the case. It deals with loss of innocence, growing up, trauma, PTSD, identity, and abuse in a way that is both genuinely kind and genuinely heartbreaking. Detective Tippy, a stuffed triceratops and owner of the Stuffed Animal Detective Agency, is our main character. He’s the former imaginary friend of a young girl, Sandra, and most of his personality came from her. However, much like all of the other Friends in the Stillreal, Tippy’s person underwent a trauma that forced her to give up Tippy. She did not merely grow up. She did not just stop believing. Instead, she saw her father die in front of her, and Tippy became too painful for her to keep him around any more. “The first thing I remember is the spinning; after that comes the squealing and the screaming. I remember Daddy giving us order, but I don’t remember his words. I remember the awful, high-pitched punching sound of glass giving way. I remember Sandra’s legs, hurting and not hurting at the same time, and this heavy feeling like she couldn’t quite move. I remember the crimson color of Daddy’s face, and the weird way he hunched over the steering wheel, and how everything smelled like thawing steak and Daddy’s cologne.” Tippy is exactly what you’d expect from a young girl who’s set and determined to figure out the “Co-Spirity” that’s plaguing her home. When her dad seems to come home late or not at all, when her mom gets angry whenever her dad smells like a certain perfume… Sandra just wants to know why in the innocent way only a little girl can. She and Tippy work together to find clues, and Tippy wants nothing more than to help and protect Sandra. When Sandra realizes that maybe it’s better to stop looking into the why of this particular mystery, Tippy is disappointed… but also understands that Sandra’s happiness comes first. This intense desire both to help and to solve mysteries are the foundation of who Tippy is in the Stillreal, too. When Tippy is punted away from Sandra and into the Stillreal, he finds a new home and a new family. The cast of The Imaginary Corpse is made up of characters who are much like Tippy, in that they have the goals and dreams of children behind them as well as the trauma that both inspired their creation and their subsequent destruction. Officers Hot and Cold, a child’s dream of justice. Miss Mighty, the nemesis of Doctor Atrocity. Breaker, an octopus in charge of making sure the Memory Whales who help organize Sasha’s mind stay healthy and organized. In the Stillreal, there is no permanent death – even if Doctor Atrocity gets the best of Miss Mighty, the idea of Miss Mighty carries on and reforms again in time. “Friends can’t die. We can be already dead, like Lloyd and Rocky, the vampire couple in the Terrible Old House. We can even be dead for a while, like King Max Courage of Pluto after he fought the Steel Serpents. But we don’t stay dead. Even in the Ideas where murder does exist, it happens according to set parameters, and it’s never really permanent. Yes, it’s violent, but one is really hurt in the end. Trust me, we’ve asked the victims. But this…” However, that assumption about death and its impermanence is challenged with a new Friend arrives in the Stillreal. The book opens with Tippy on the case to investigate some screaming corn over at Farmer Nick Nefarious’ Nightshire Farms. While his idea is in fact a Nightmare, the screams are rather a bit… much. When Tippy arrives, he finds the issue quickly: a young Nightmare appears to be hiding out in the barn. Spindleman tells Tippy the outline of his story, that a Man in a Coat came after his Person. Tippy, however, disregards this for the moment; it’s starting to sprinkle, and rain brings back the memories and emotions he experienced when Sandra’s father died. Tippy finds reason to regret this when The Man in the Coat reappears and kills Spindleman… permanently. Spindleman doesn’t come back. He’s simply gone, which has never happened before in the Stillreal. Naturally, everyone is on edge – and more deaths will follow before The Man in the Coat is stopped. As they hunt The Man in the Coat, Tippy is the lynchpin who helps those in his community to find reserves of bravery they never knew they had even in the face of overwhelming pain and fear. These are all deeply, irreparably flawed and hurt characters who come together to help one another when they need it. This is a book about friendship, about support, and about how even people who have been hurt can help one another cope and find happiness – even if the source of their pain will never go away. Sometimes, they hurt each other, and sometimes, they find it in them to forgive and improve themselves. “’I yelled at you because I was hurting, but I was mad at you because you didn’t trust me. You thought I would say no to danger, and not only is that a total misunderstanding of who I am, that is not a decision you get to take from somebody.’ Her teeth clench. ‘Ever.’” There are themes of identity, given that ideas may be too young to have a gender or even a fully formed body. No one can really make assumptions about one another, given that they’re not even close to limited to a human form, and many may have been the Friend of a child who was still figuring out their own gender or other aspects of their identity. “’Hi,’ I say, with ashes in my mouth. ‘I’m Detective Tippy. What’s your name and pronoun?’ Frieda clear her throat. ‘Her name is – ‘ ‘I asked them,’ I say, barely taking my eyes off Wrrbrr. Frieda’s mouth goes quiet, but her eyes glow red. The blobby little Friend looks at Frieda, at me, face scrunched up as they try to make the hardest decision. When they speak, it’s in a breathy little whisper, like air escaping from a party balloon. ‘I’m Wrrbrr,’ they say, a little roll to the ‘r’s that Frieda didn’t quite nail. ‘And… and..’ They scrunch up their face again. ‘What’s a pronoun, please?’” Sometimes everyone needs a Tippy in their life to show a little kindness during hard times. This book doesn’t end with everyone happy and safe, but it does end with everyone doing their best to care for one another despite that… and I think that’s the most important thing. “We make sense of a world that sometimes refuses to make sense. We remind everyone that the world is basically a good place, even – especially – when it seems to be anything but. We help people. I like solving mysteries. I like gathering clues. I like feeling a puzzle come together in my mind. But those are tools, a means to an end. What I really do is help people, both with their problems and with believing the best of the world. That’s what Sandra wanted me for. That’s what… that’s really what got me stuck here in the first place. But as long as I do that – as long as I help – I know everything will, eventually, work out alright. Even if getting there hurts.” This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Queen Terrible Timy

    This review was originally published on my blog, RockStarlit BookAsylum! There is Twitter Giveaway Game I'm hosting, where you can win a paperback or ebook copy! Check the details out here! “What I really do is help people, bot with their problems and with believing the best of the world.” I’ve read The Imaginary Corpse back in June, but it still lives vividly in my mind. Most of all Tippy, the main character, the yellow triceratops who is one of the best private investigators in the Stillreal. I h This review was originally published on my blog, RockStarlit BookAsylum! There is Twitter Giveaway Game I'm hosting, where you can win a paperback or ebook copy! Check the details out here! “What I really do is help people, bot with their problems and with believing the best of the world.” I’ve read The Imaginary Corpse back in June, but it still lives vividly in my mind. Most of all Tippy, the main character, the yellow triceratops who is one of the best private investigators in the Stillreal. I have a feeling this review will become incoherent at one point, so let me just make it clear: Tippy is one of the most loveable characters I ever read about, and The Imaginary Corpse is just like a huge warm blanket you can wrap around yourself on cold days to feel safe, and believe the world is a kind and nice place. Have you ever had an imaginary friend as a kid? Or an idea you worked on for weeks, months, even years but had to discard in the end? Have you ever had to say goodbye to something you loved – a beloved stuffed animal for instance? Did you ever think about what happened to these friends and ideas? Tyler Hayes did and created one of the most unique worlds, one that never stops changing or expanding thanks to new Ideas and Friends popping up all the time. This is a world where you could never get bored, because there are practically infinite options before you, whether you seek adventure, peace, dark alleys and edgy villains. Stillreal has it all and some more. This is the place where discarded Ideas and Friends go after they have to part with their creators. Stillreal has a place for literally everyone no matter what their age, gender, species, colour, etc are. Most of the Friends who end up in the Stillreal continue to do what they were created for be it good or bad, and they all exist beside each other – more or less in piece and understanding. As Tippy puts it: “For us, there’s the Stillreal. The underbelly of the Imagination. The place for Ideas too Real to fade away, too anonymous to go Big, and too messed up to stay where we are. We’re a patchwork of places, a population of emotional refugees, all knitted together at random and doing our best to survive without literally life-giving love. In other words, we’re a mess.” Our main character is Tippy, a yellow stuffed triceratops, who is a private investigator. As everyone else in the Stillreal he went through a trauma when he found himself in Stillreal, and though he learned to cope with his new life, he still suffers from anxiety and some kind of PTSD when it rains – and I swear one of the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever read was the scene when he, after a long and hard day, climbs into a dryer for a few spins, which is his safe place. But Tippy also has a job to do. It falls on him to figure out who is responsible for Friends being killed, permanently. Tippy doesn’t have a lot as far as clues go, but the Spindleman case leads him to some unexpected events until he slowly gets to the end of the matter. He is accompanied by a series of Friends along the way – Spiderhand, his roommate and best friends whose hobby is to have tea parties; Miss Mighty, the superhero who fights an everlasting battle with the villain Dr. Atrocity; Frieda, the owner of the Freedom Motel where every new Friend without a place to go lands; the Sadness Penguins about whom we didn’t learn nearly enough but I really want to; the memory whales (!!) and a series of other intriguing, unique characters you just come to love to read about. “Real-world whales breathe air. But this Idea’s whales breathe memories. Sometimes I need to stop and remind myself that I do love my job.” I’m usually not a person who gets easily emotional, but The Imaginary Corpse did all kind of things to my and my heart (at one point I was practically begging to get my cold, stone heart back, because I just couldn’t cope) and all I could think about was “Damn, I want to hug Tippy sooo much!” Not because I pitied him – well, of course I was sad for him, because losing part of your life and restart it somewhere else is never easy – but because of his personality. It’s not everyday that you read a book with a main character who is so pure and wholesome, and whose real strength is his kidness and understanding. Put your hand on your heart and tell me honestly, if you’d ever offer a hug to someone who tried to do you wrong. I thought so. I think we all could learn something from Tippy and this book – mostly that kindness and love is not a weakness, and that everyone needs it, even if they don’t know they do. “The idea that pops into my head is absolutely ridiculous. Fortunately, I’m no stranger to that, so I ask,”Do you need a hug?”” Tyler Hayes successfully played with bending the genres as The Imaginary Corpse is a fantasy book, but in its core, it really is a murder mystery sprinkled with a bit of awareness raising for the importance of mental health. It really is a bit of mix of everyhting and maybe less would have been more in some cases – like we really get introduced to a lot of characters – but at the end of the day, what you really remember is how emotionally engaging this book is. And the witty humour of it. It got a few chuckles out of me which is always a good sign. The Imaginary Corpse is one of the most imaginative books I’ve read in a long time. As someone who is a sucker for stuffed animals and battles with anxiety this book really hit close to home. Tyler Hayes debut fantasy novel just ruined me in the best possible way, and not only jumped somewhere near the top of my “Favourite Books Ever” list, but also landed him on my auto-buy list. In case you need more reason to read The Imaginary Corpse, I had the pleasure to chat with Tippy, and you can read our interview here! If you’d like to have a chance to win either an ecopy or a paperback of The Imaginary Corpse, check out my Twitter Giveaway game!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz

    4.5/5 Detective Tippy is good at what he does. Probably the best. He’s also a fluffy and minuscule stuffed triceratops. Nothing shocking in the dreamland of ideas known as Stillreal. As people grow up, they tend to abandon their imaginary Friends who, when it inevitably happens, find shelter in this exact place. Not a perfect scenario, but better than being erased from existence. The Stillreal. The underside of the Imagination that nobody remembers to clean. It can be a rough place, but it can als 4.5/5 Detective Tippy is good at what he does. Probably the best. He’s also a fluffy and minuscule stuffed triceratops. Nothing shocking in the dreamland of ideas known as Stillreal. As people grow up, they tend to abandon their imaginary Friends who, when it inevitably happens, find shelter in this exact place. Not a perfect scenario, but better than being erased from existence. The Stillreal. The underside of the Imagination that nobody remembers to clean. It can be a rough place, but it can also be beautiful. Fortunately, you have me to help you find the latter instead of waltzing face-first into the former. When an unidentified resident of the Stillreal goes on a killing spree, no Friend is safe. Detective Tippy applies his detective skills, charm, and empathy to solve the crime. And he gets the job done. He even finds time to go to a bar and sip a root beer, as befits a detective. Stillreal is a fascinating, and detailed place in which all possible imaginary worlds and landscapes blend into something unique. The action jumps from modern skyscrapers and offices (Big Business operating area) to underwater abysses, and the Avatar city filled with superheroes. Here, nothing is impossible. I would go as far as saying that exploring the place and meeting its wacky residents is the biggest fun the book offers. Investigations led by Tippy vary in difficulty but they all follow a similar scenario. Some are lighthearted, some dark and scary. Creatures of Stillreal are endearing, but also tragic (abandoned, lonely, trying to build a new life without children who have imagined them). They deal with trauma, but they’re also affectionate creatures, plenty of love and readiness to forgive. I enjoyed Tippy as a lead, because who wouldn’t cheer for a minuscule triceratops whose favorite pastime is going for a spin in a dryer? Secondary characters like Miss. Mighty, Spiderhand or Dr. Atrocity are memorable but not fully realized. You remember their wackiness and longings, but their motivations fade with time. That said, their origins are fascinating and heart-breaking (they wouldn't end in Stillreal if their creators still needed them). Take a look at Miss Mighty, Stillrill's biggest superhero. "Miss Mighty was created as her person's way of standing up to bullies. She was her person's strength, her confidence, but also her belief in goodness and justice" The Imaginary Corpse tries something new (even if it’s a bit of everything) and, with few negligible misses, succeeds at creating a memorable story. It mixes humor, horror, intrigue, and action into a singular blend and is emotionally engaging throughout. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Neil Gaiman of Frances Hardinge.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Noel

    *Free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book ran me through the full gamut of emotions. For a while I thought it might be like "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" but for adults. Nope. Don't get me wrong, it's not for kids, but it's also not NSFW levels of "for adults". Hayes does an incredible job of blending all the different levels of depth that go into the Ideas and making it possible for the reader to seamlessly go from Playtime Land to Big Business without any real *Free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book ran me through the full gamut of emotions. For a while I thought it might be like "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" but for adults. Nope. Don't get me wrong, it's not for kids, but it's also not NSFW levels of "for adults". Hayes does an incredible job of blending all the different levels of depth that go into the Ideas and making it possible for the reader to seamlessly go from Playtime Land to Big Business without any real disorientation. Probably because Tippy, the narrator, is so used to this stuff by now and does a wonderful job of describing the process. You still get a lot of stuff that's just flat out adorable. Tippy's drink of choice is root beer because his Person, who watched all the detective shows as a kid, thought that's what beer was. And Tippy's favorite way to relax? Going for a spin in the dryer! And the Friends that were created by kids have a lot of kid-like qualities. Even a nightmare like Spindleman talks like a little kid and it's freaking cute as heck! But it's also that reasoning and mentality that can really pull at your heartstrings. And Hayes does not hold back. There were times when I was in tears because, yes, this isn't a book for kids. The primary villain of the story is so monstrous and able to break so many rules of the StillReal, (and I gotta be careful here because I don't want to give any spoilers) because he is based on a real world monster. He's faster, stronger and more dangerous than any Friend has ever thought possible. He's genuinely very, very scary! Especially when you get glimpses into what he is in the real world. It's heartbreaking. I felt everything a book could ever put me through. Fear, laughter, horror, intrigue, anxiety, relief, and then-some. This book was such a full experience. I've been out of blogging for a couple of months now because I just couldn't really bring myself to write more. Then I read this book and I HAVE to share it with the world. I HAVE to spread the word about this book. The world, the characters, the emotions, the storytelling, it's all so engaging and amazing. This book is worth 5 hoots and all the love. I'm looking forward to more from Hayes.

  9. 4 out of 5

    keikii Eats Books

    To read more reviews like this, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books! 96 points, 5 STARS! Quote: "The worst part? A part of me feels good. I'm on a case, and that means I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. And maybe this time.. maybe this time I can make it make sense. Real healthy there, me." Review: I have never read anything at all before like this adorable, mushy, perfect mystery novel. I need you to read this, because you need to read this. On the surface, this sounds like a trippy, To read more reviews like this, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books! 96 points, 5 STARS! Quote: "The worst part? A part of me feels good. I'm on a case, and that means I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. And maybe this time.. maybe this time I can make it make sense. Real healthy there, me." Review: I have never read anything at all before like this adorable, mushy, perfect mystery novel. I need you to read this, because you need to read this. On the surface, this sounds like a trippy, really weird mystery in a really novel location. But below? Below that surface is everything awesome and wholesome that exists in this world. Tippy is a stuffed yellow dinosaur who is a private investigator, because that is what his Person needed from him when she created him. Tippy specializes in cases about people new to the Stillreal, the world where imaginary friends go when their Person no longer needs them. He has magic stuff(ing), which helps him on his cases. And Tippy is one of the most kind hearted, genuine people I've ever met. (And so is the author, Tyler Hayes.) Through Tippy, we the entire Stillreal is filled with some of the most kind, amazing people. Unless it is contrary to who they are as Friends, that is. Everyone wants to make everyone else happy and make them feel like they belong. Even if they are nightmares. Because everyone in the Stillreal is broken, just by virtue of being in the Stillreal in the first place. Because in order to become a Friend in the Stillreal, you have to have lost your Person. Which is traumatizing for an imaginary friend! The Imaginary Corpse features a murder case, in a place where, by definition, there can be no murder. Not because they are not real, but because they cannot die. Yet, Friends are dying. And everyone is scared. But because Tippy is on the case, everyone feels like it will all work out. And really this is just adorable. While reading The Imaginary Corpse, I wished dearly that this was a book that you could read to your children. Don't get me wrong, this is definitely a book for adults. But the themes and qualities The Imaginary Corpse covers is perfect for children as well as adults. It talks about the consequences of actions, and learning to work with others. It is about how you treat your friends and family, as well as perfect strangers. It is about morals. It is about how not everything always goes the way you want it to, and sometimes bad things happen, and it is okay to feel bad about it. It has everything you want a child to learn, while still being an amazing story for adults. And it is a completely wholesome story you rarely get to see. Unfortunately, I think this just has a few too many adult themes for children. The Imaginary Corpse, at the core, makes you feel. It makes you feel happy when it can, and accepted always. It makes you feel love for those you know. It lets you make friends with those you don't know yet. It makes you feel fear in the face of death, and anger when you cannot stop it from happening. And you feel the heartbreak of being ripped away from people you love, whoever it may have been. But always, always, it is about belonging and acceptance. I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Tyler Harris, Angry Robot, and Edelweiss for providing the opportunity to review this copy!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    “The name’s Tippy, ex-imaginary friend and once-and-current detective. It’s nice to meet you.” Review Even though I knew the basic premise when I started it, I was still seriously surprised at the plot and its world building. Definitely written for adults, this fantasy world of forgotten ideas, dreams, and imaginary friends reeled me in right from the beginning. I adored every single page of this engaging, fantastical book. It was often hilarious as well and I found myself unable to stop laughin “The name’s Tippy, ex-imaginary friend and once-and-current detective. It’s nice to meet you.” Review Even though I knew the basic premise when I started it, I was still seriously surprised at the plot and its world building. Definitely written for adults, this fantasy world of forgotten ideas, dreams, and imaginary friends reeled me in right from the beginning. I adored every single page of this engaging, fantastical book. It was often hilarious as well and I found myself unable to stop laughing several times. The first case he was on absolutely killed me, the one starting “with the screaming corn.” The story was a little heartbreaking, too. Everyone and everything in the Stillreal is left over from thoughts and fantasies that were so strong that when their creators didn’t need them anymore, they never really went away. Instead they exist abandoned within this makeshift world filled with other thought-refugees. It was devastating whenever these characters remembered the people they were so cruelly ripped away from. Think Toy Story 2 and Jessie’s song, “When She Loved Me.” Yeah, you can borrow my hankie. Tippy, a hardened investigator who is literally soft inside, is also smart, caring, daring and delightful. And I love how he drowns his sorrows in root beer. A detective with an impressive solve rate due to how his person imagined him, he is faced with the hardest case of his life when the very fabric of his imaginary world starts to unravel. Tippy lives within Playtime Town, a more childish realm filled with imaginary friends mostly made up by younger minds. There’s also Avatar City, a place chock full of villains and superheroes, many of whom end up coming to Tippy’s aid in a major battle that was a bit like Imaginary Friends Assemble. It was an awesome scene. My favourite place, though, was the one ruled by Big Business. As someone who has worked within the bleak hellscape of the corporate world, The Heart of Business was a pretty hilarious (and terrifying) place. There are a few rumors about how it was created, ranging from it being built out of the rants of unemployed workers to being created on the back of an Internet manifesto about the evils of corporate culture. However it was created, it’s pretty bang on the head about what life in financial districts is like. In the Heart of Business, it’s always nearly closing time so everyone in their drab office attire is endlessly rushing to finish their work and enhance the bottom line. Oh, and if that all wasn’t bad enough, everyone talks in business speak, too. In the end though, because these deaths were bad for profits, Big Business decides to help the Friends. He and his minion fact-finders become a crucial part of the imaginary dreamteam that battles the serial killer in that epic fight scene I mentioned earlier. There were so many characters in this story, but never did it get overwhelming. Plus I liked each and every one of them, even the baddies. With so much going on and with the sheer amount of detail involved, this could have easily become too much and too hard to follow. Luckily, though, The Imaginary Corpse was amazingly well put together and was a blast to read. I hope we get more of Tippy! Final Thoughts It’s been hard to really describe this story because there is so much going on within its pages, but I hope I got my main thought across, which is: I LOVED THIS BOOK. It’s one of the most unique books I’ve ever read and has some of the most detailed and satisfying world building I’ve come across. The Imaginary Corpse was a thoroughly entertaining ride with a lot of heart to boot. I went through just about every emotion there is while I was reading it. The world building was so incredibly thorough, really making me feel like I was within this unbelievable land of forgotten make believe. Side note: I’ll certainly be more careful with my daydreaming in future so that my discarded ideas aren’t left abandoned in a world without their creator, no matter how many root beers they’ll be compensated with. Read my full review on my blog! Thank you to Angry Robot and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kazima

    I loved it! I can't wait for this to come out so I can recommend it to EVERYONE! This story was so original and well written. And funny and dark. And heart wrenching and heart warming. Just amazing!

  12. 4 out of 5

    David H.

    I love wacky mysteries, and The Imaginary Corpse was a perfect fit for me. The premise is fun (stuffed dinosaur detective in a type of "imagination land"!), the characters were great and full of heart--and trauma (most characters are abandoned imaginary friends, though it's more complicated than that), and the mystery was both interesting and, despite how strange the story could get, was solved in a manner that made sense. I'd love to see what else Hayes writes (and I wouldn't mind seeing sequel I love wacky mysteries, and The Imaginary Corpse was a perfect fit for me. The premise is fun (stuffed dinosaur detective in a type of "imagination land"!), the characters were great and full of heart--and trauma (most characters are abandoned imaginary friends, though it's more complicated than that), and the mystery was both interesting and, despite how strange the story could get, was solved in a manner that made sense. I'd love to see what else Hayes writes (and I wouldn't mind seeing sequels to this). Now I'm going to go take a spin in the ol' dryer and have me a root beer...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Full review is Full review is

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mary S. R.

    I received an ARC through NetGalley for an honest review. Many thanks to the publisher, Angry Robot! What if an idea could be killed? No not as in the “it's too big and the world so small and you even smaller so, sorry kid, be realistic” sense, but as in you'd never be able to recall it because it would just be that...dead and gone, as if it never was. This is a book to test your imagination and explore the many faces of ideas, our hopes and dreams, and what happens when we ignore them...and I am I received an ARC through NetGalley for an honest review. Many thanks to the publisher, Angry Robot! What if an idea could be killed? No not as in the “it's too big and the world so small and you even smaller so, sorry kid, be realistic” sense, but as in you'd never be able to recall it because it would just be that...dead and gone, as if it never was. This is a book to test your imagination and explore the many faces of ideas, our hopes and dreams, and what happens when we ignore them...and I am in for it!

  15. 4 out of 5

    wanderer (Para)

    ARC received from the publisher (Angry Robot) on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Absolutely adored it. Sometimes, even my cynical self needs something 100% sweet and wholesome. I got it recommended by Keikii who got the ARC first as "it's weird in a delightful way you'll love" and she was so right. I like solving mysteries. I like gathering clues. I like feeling a puzzle come together in my mind. But those are tools, a means to an end. What I really do is help people, both with the ARC received from the publisher (Angry Robot) on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Absolutely adored it. Sometimes, even my cynical self needs something 100% sweet and wholesome. I got it recommended by Keikii who got the ARC first as "it's weird in a delightful way you'll love" and she was so right. I like solving mysteries. I like gathering clues. I like feeling a puzzle come together in my mind. But those are tools, a means to an end. What I really do is help people, both with their problems and with believing the best of the world. This is a book that will make you go hug all your childhood plushies. Though it deals with trauma heavily, the end result is whimsical and imaginative and utterly adorable. Or is it the other way around? Though it may seem fluffy, it has a lot of substance to it too. Either way, if you've been recently let down by a book or just need a palate cleanser, I'd highly recommend it - it's a pure comfort read. The Imaginary Corpse takes place in the Stillreal, a place where ideas, characters, imaginary friends, nightmares, and concepts that were beloved enough to become Real go when their creators are forced to abruptly abandon them, usually in a traumatic fashion. Because of that, pretty much everyone is broken in one way or another. And someone's been killing off Friends, for real. Enter Tippy, a triceratops plushy detective who loves root beer floats, turns in the dryer, and naturally, solving crime. The concept is wonderfully unique and unlike anything I ever read before. A world of abandoned concepts? A dinosaur plushy protagonist? It manages to work very well. After arrival, every Idea and Friend in the Stillreal goes to where it belongs best - so you have a superhero city, a hyper-capitalist skyscraper-filled city, islands and underwater landscapes, and more. It's a place where every Idea, no matter where they came from, no matter their gender, no matter their past can find a place to belong. Tippy, being a little girl's Friend, lives in Playtime Town. And he's one of the kindest, most empathetic characters I had the pleasure to encounter. I found him awfully easy to like. He's not perfect, but god damn he tries his absolute best. He also flushes when he hears a swearword, he drinks root bear floats and takes turns in the dryer when stressed, he has anxiety and trauma related to rain. I wanted to hug him so much (seriously, we need Tippy merch). While it may look like this book could be appropriate for a younger audience at first, the fairly complex themes it deals with and some dark bits put it firmly in the adult category. It's primarily an examination of trauma and anxiety and it inspires ALL the emotions. All of them. It's as heartbreaking in places as it's ultimately uplifting. If there's one thing that mildly irritated me, it's that a lot of chapters, especally early on, end on some variety of (paraphrased) "I wish I hadn't done this, then things may have ended differently" - ominous, heavy-handed foreshadowing like this is a pet peeve for me. Regardless, it's a wonderful, deeply compassionate book and I'd recommend it to absolutely everyone. Enjoyment: 4/5 Execution: 4/5 Recommended to: anyone looking for an unique read, fans of sweet, wholesome books, those looking for a palate cleanser, could also be appropriate for younger readers who can handle difficult themes Not recommended to: those who like their books darker, those who can't stand heavy-handed foreshadowing More reviews on my blog, To Other Worlds.

  16. 5 out of 5

    VexenReplica

    There are major feels. Such a solid book. Also, yes, hugs must be consented to... *sniffle*. I swear I hope there's going to be a book 2. And a book 3. Book 4 would be nice too. And a 5th book wouldn't be out of the question. While we're at it, might as well make this a fifteen-tome series. I'd buy 'em all.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Condwiramurs

    I’m full of a lot of emotions and I’m going to have to write something about them later but for now I’m just.... GOD. I’M HAVING FEELINGS. Edit: Warning: Maybe some spoilers are ahead? I'm not sure if people will feel like they're spoilers. Also this probably isn't going to be well-structured because oh boy. Tyler Hayes did a really good job. So! I have a lot of feelings about this book. Like, a lot. There was crying at some points while reading it. But how did I end up finding out about this title I’m full of a lot of emotions and I’m going to have to write something about them later but for now I’m just.... GOD. I’M HAVING FEELINGS. Edit: Warning: Maybe some spoilers are ahead? I'm not sure if people will feel like they're spoilers. Also this probably isn't going to be well-structured because oh boy. Tyler Hayes did a really good job. So! I have a lot of feelings about this book. Like, a lot. There was crying at some points while reading it. But how did I end up finding out about this title and reading it? Well... Imagine you're in a Discord server of book readers. Imagine that some of them literally schedule their reading (how????). Imagine also that some of them write reviews of these books they have put in their reading schedules. And that they request way too many ARCs (Advanced Readers' Copies). A couple of them got ARCs for The Imaginary Corpse and immediately started raving about how great it was, and that was interesting, but then a close friend said 'this really seems like your thing'. She's got to know my reading tastes quite well so I'm inclined to trust her when she says I'll like or dislike a book. Being a very generous soul, she helped me preorder it. I wasn't able to read immediately since I was on a five-day course, but I picked it up on Monday. And oh damn. The main character is a plush triceratops detective named Tippy, and he lives in a place called the StillReal. It's full of imaginary Friends and Nightmares who were separated from their creators by trauma rather than naturally fading away as their creator grew away from their Idea. So of course all of them are traumatized. And it's not helped when a new person shows up and murders a new member of the community. Detective Tippy has to figure out who the new person is, why they're doing this, and how to stop them before they can begin emptying the StillReal. With the summary out of the way let me say wow a few times. Wow. Wow. WOW. This book is really, really good oh my god. I love it so, so much even though it made me cry and get all up in knots. Like, you like Toy Story? Or The Velveteen Rabbit? Or The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie? Or The Magpie Murders? With maybe a smidgen of Pinnochio? I'm going to stop throwing Story names at you now but those are all things I would compare elements of The Imaginary Corpse to. The world is so so inventive in a way that's a little bit Monsters Inc. There are Ideas everywhere in the StillReal - some of them are just Friends or Nightmares, others are places that are either fully formed or mashed together single places. And some characters bring their natural habitat (home Idea) with them so that they have a place to live by default. But there are some set places where certain types of Friends tend to live when they don't have a home Idea. How do they travel between them? By thinking their way to them. I love this detail so so so so much, because it's super interesting! They look for details and then use those details to go somewhere with a similar detail. So they could stare at a couch and imagine a different couch somewhere else to hop to that place. Also side note but in the place Tippy lives their bar serves root beer and root beer floats and that's Detective Tippy's usual order and it's adorable. Another thing I really liked was everyone doing their best to be mindful of each other's triggers, and respecting each other's pronouns!!!! One of Tippy's first questions for new people after he introduces himself and asks for their name is what their pronouns are! Like, the first new person he meets in the book says their creator always called them 'it' so those are its pronouns and Tippy! Corrects! Someone else!!! When they don't use that pronoun!!!! Tippy also corrects himself when he, at one point, assumes someone's gender! And that was internal thoughts, not even external! This book is full of respect and support and in a few weeks I'll probably reread it and cry again. Unrelated to my big feelings on that topic, let's talk about the plot. It was great, in my opinion! The man in the coat was a compelling sort of villain for them to have that would make them all afraid, and the seemingly erratic behaviour was making me just as confused and anxious as Tippy. Or, well, maybe only a little bit since my life wasn't on the line like his was. But the way they piece everything together and Tippy's Detective Stuff doesn't just cut the book in half (or even into a third) was fantastic, and the end conclusion was really well put together! Like, the main story elements remind me of all those books up above, mystery titles included, but it also in some ways reminds me of Murder on the Orient Express? Not just because it's a mystery but, even though we're in Tippy's head instead of being outside observers that aren't privy to any private thoughts, there were points where the work of trying to assemble the clues reminded me of the aforementioned novel. This is definitely one of my favourite reads of the year, and I give to it the honour of being put alongside the Murderbot Diaries and Discworld series as one of my top favourite books. I am really, really hoping for a sequel and trying not to let my brain keep supplying other books with similar elements that I should reread. I can't recommend this book enough, though I probably wouldn't give it to anyone younger than say, sixteen. It deals with some heavy topics, and I don't recall ever reading anything quite like them as a child (though maybe Henrietta Branford's Dimanche Diller books came closeish? Or certain titles in Brian Jacques' Redwall series? I said I'd stop throwing book titles at you so I'll really stop now.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    M.E. Garber

    The Imaginary Corpse is an off-beat, fun novel that skillfully blends noir detective with stuffed animals and other imaginary friends in a Who Framed Roger Rabbit style. Tippy the Triceratops navigates his own trauma while trying to solve his first really big case in the Stillreal, the place where ideas that people really loved but then suddenly abandoned go to live. He needs to overcome his own solitary nature and involve his friends, and make some new ones, resulting in lovely moments of pure The Imaginary Corpse is an off-beat, fun novel that skillfully blends noir detective with stuffed animals and other imaginary friends in a Who Framed Roger Rabbit style. Tippy the Triceratops navigates his own trauma while trying to solve his first really big case in the Stillreal, the place where ideas that people really loved but then suddenly abandoned go to live. He needs to overcome his own solitary nature and involve his friends, and make some new ones, resulting in lovely moments of pure spun-sugar sweetness. I particularly loved that Tippy has to ask each new Idea their pronoun (and sometimes explain what a “pronoun” is), since how does one even begin to guess the gender of glowing balls of light? It very nicely normalizes the concept, and further illustrates the underlying kindness of this book. Overall, very absorbing and easy to read—and love—even if I found the protagonist’s arc a bit slight. There was so much worldbuilding (necessary and well done, but still) at the outset, and then with the structure of the Howdunnit mystery on top, I wasn’t 100% clear on Tippy’s inner problem until about halfway through. Still, the ending felt real, earned, and good. This is a book that will definitely appeal to those who love the Noblebright (as opposed to Grimdark) subgenre, like The Goblin Emperor, or the Pixar movie Inside Out.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    More like a 3.5/5 stars for this book. It's one of the most unique concepts that I've ever read, with Tippy being a delightful protagonist that has a fully realized backstory (for a stuffed Triceratops). I really liked the amount of different locales within the "Stillreal," the place imaginary friends/unfinished ideas, etc. get sent to when they are discarded abruptly/before their time. Tippy is trying to figure out how friends in the Stillreal are being permanently killed, as that is known to b More like a 3.5/5 stars for this book. It's one of the most unique concepts that I've ever read, with Tippy being a delightful protagonist that has a fully realized backstory (for a stuffed Triceratops). I really liked the amount of different locales within the "Stillreal," the place imaginary friends/unfinished ideas, etc. get sent to when they are discarded abruptly/before their time. Tippy is trying to figure out how friends in the Stillreal are being permanently killed, as that is known to be impossible. I did enjoy the concept and a lot of the characters, but the slow-pacing made this book difficult for me to get through. It was sometimes difficult to figure out what was going on and the detailed explanations of the "rules" of the Stillreal created a slog for me personally. Very good messages on friendship and trying to keep the innocence of childhood, even when dealing with the hardships of being an adult. It's kind of like a bizarre version of Sesame Street, but it falls short of the depth that it's looking for where it truly counts.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vigasia

    Have You ever had an imaginary friend? Did you ever start a novel, but haven't finished it? Have You ever had an idea that was so close to Your heart it actually felt real? And what if that kinds of ideas went to another realm called Stillreal, after You abandoned them? This novel is exactly about special Friends that weren't need nymore, so they started a new life in another dimension. It's a mystery story with the triceratops detective as a main protagonist. Tippy is a nice dinosaur and all he Have You ever had an imaginary friend? Did you ever start a novel, but haven't finished it? Have You ever had an idea that was so close to Your heart it actually felt real? And what if that kinds of ideas went to another realm called Stillreal, after You abandoned them? This novel is exactly about special Friends that weren't need nymore, so they started a new life in another dimension. It's a mystery story with the triceratops detective as a main protagonist. Tippy is a nice dinosaur and all he want to do is help people. It deosn't always work but he's trying, so when The Tea Man appears and starts to kill Friends for real, he decide to do something about it. And here goes the adventure with Tippy and his friends - other Ideas. It's really imaginative and quite different from anything I've ever read. But it;s really good book, full of snarky comments and some emotional moments. i really hope that author is going to continue with this world and characters.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this brilliant book. The Imaginary Corpse belongs in a category alone. It reads like Who Framed Roger Rabbit for adults but with an entirely unique cast of complex characters. You wouldn't think a story starring a stuffed yellow triceratops named Tippy could be whimsical while delving into the psyches of highly traumatized characters, but that's exactly the case. I enjoyed the story on the surface level with it's cartoonish vibe and root beer float-a I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this brilliant book. The Imaginary Corpse belongs in a category alone. It reads like Who Framed Roger Rabbit for adults but with an entirely unique cast of complex characters. You wouldn't think a story starring a stuffed yellow triceratops named Tippy could be whimsical while delving into the psyches of highly traumatized characters, but that's exactly the case. I enjoyed the story on the surface level with it's cartoonish vibe and root beer float-addicted detective, but the real brilliance is the way those elements juxtapose with heavier themes. Past traumas are faced and deconstructed, but I'm left picturing a vibrant Playtime Town under a smiling, comforting moon. This is a special book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Wow, just wow, this book was amazing. It'll break your heart, sew it back together, and then break it again just because. I can't recommend this enough.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Bennett

    4.5 stars Tippy is a yellow stuffed animal triceratops that is the local detective in his town. After a rough day, he likes to go to the local pub and down a couple of root beer floats and then head on over to the laundry mat to take a tumble in the warm, cozy dryer. In the Stillreal, where imaginary friends/ideas go when they are no longer needed, Tippy is the man to solve your problems. Until one day, a serial killer comes into this world. He kills the characters that aren't supposed to be able 4.5 stars Tippy is a yellow stuffed animal triceratops that is the local detective in his town. After a rough day, he likes to go to the local pub and down a couple of root beer floats and then head on over to the laundry mat to take a tumble in the warm, cozy dryer. In the Stillreal, where imaginary friends/ideas go when they are no longer needed, Tippy is the man to solve your problems. Until one day, a serial killer comes into this world. He kills the characters that aren't supposed to be able to be killed. This sets everyone into a panic and it is up to Tippy and his friends to solve the case. Loved everything about this book. I'll admit, I don't think I totally get the whole Stillreal world, real world thing but for most part I did and it was enough to enjoy it. The book was loads of fun with a creepiness to it as well. The killer, The Man in the Coat, sent shivers down my spine. Hoping to see more adventures with Tippy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Siavahda

    Review to come, but this is without question one of the best books I have ever read. Aaaaaaaaaand, HERE IS MY REVIEW. Gods above, this was one incredible ride! I finished it in just under 24 hours – and it only took me that long because I had to break for Monday’s workday. But Imaginary Corpse is pretty literally unputdownable. My mind is so blown. Imaginary Corpse is the book I didn’t know I wanted. No: didn’t know I needed. I’ve read stories by younger authors, but this is the first book that has Review to come, but this is without question one of the best books I have ever read. Aaaaaaaaaand, HERE IS MY REVIEW. Gods above, this was one incredible ride! I finished it in just under 24 hours – and it only took me that long because I had to break for Monday’s workday. But Imaginary Corpse is pretty literally unputdownable. My mind is so blown. Imaginary Corpse is the book I didn’t know I wanted. No: didn’t know I needed. I’ve read stories by younger authors, but this is the first book that has ever struck me as Millennial Fantasy, as a book written by someone who understood my generation, for people of my generation. What the hell does that mean, you ask? It’s everything – from the cynical-optimistic voice of the narrator Tippy, to the casually diverse cast of fabulous characters; the normalisation of the question ‘What are your pronouns?’, to the wry black humour; the acknowledgement of trauma, and the rock-solid bonds tying friends and Friends together; the defiant absurdity that’s nonetheless delighted to poke fun at itself – and the sheer awe and wonder and magic of the human imagination, and all that it can create. I mean – let’s look at my exhibit A for this argument. Tippy, being a yellow plushie dinosaur, has a unique form of self-care: he takes a turn in a dryer. As in, a tumble-dryer machine. Please point me towards the Millennial who will not read that and immediately think ‘#MOOD’? The moment I described that part of the novel, my husband (a fellow Millennial, ftr) instantly lit up with an ‘I want to go in the dryer too!’ There is just something about the idea of it – the wackiness, the cleverness, the appeal to how many of us are so tired and long for some self-care ourselves – that strikes a chord I haven’t seen struck before. The entire book is like that. I can’t drop too many examples because honestly, the sheer delight of discovering them for yourself is not something I want to deprive fellow readers of – but the tumble-dryer is the least of it. Superheroines and villainesses making out in alleyways. Big Business. A literally American eagle. Again and again this book made me giggle or laugh out loud as Hayes spun older tropes into something fresh and clever and invented completely new ones – many of which playfully mock themselves and invite you to join in on the fun. I could not stop myself from sharing snippets with the hubby while I was reading, because so many lines or concepts were just that brilliant. Discovering just what it is hard-boiled detectives drink in Playtime Town when they’ve had a rough day – I think that was the moment I knew I was going to love this book hard. (And no, I’m not going to tell you what they drink. Read the book yourself to find out!) Imaginary Corpse is not a comedy, though. Hayes’ twisty brilliance might remind me The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – except with magic instead of spaceships – but he also tackles harder and darker topics like a yellow triceratops charging at a bully. As mentioned above, this is a book where the first questions upon meeting a new person are ‘What can I call you, and what are your pronouns?’ The latter is hardly a common question in most spaces, but in Tippy’s word of the Stillreal, it’s completely normalised. Consent and choice are big themes here too, in many nuances, right down to the sanctity of personal space and gaining permission before entering someone else’s. Hayes’ characters face failure and grieving, and given the premise – that the Stillreal realm is populated by Friends who lost their creators in one way or another, usually to some flavour of tragedy – many, if not all of them, have trauma. Tippy himself has trauma-triggers – and this is known and accommodated by his friends. There’s no judgement here for survivors, no matter what scars they made it through with. And I want to stress again: all of this is normalised. This isn’t Hayes hitting anyone over the head with The Liberal Agenda; it’s just how his characters talk to each other, and live alongside one another. I’m sure he made the conscious decision to write this book the way he did, but there’s nothing preachy or lecturing about any of it. Hayes makes such a small deal about it that I had to do a double-take more than once – it all flows so naturally that if you’re not on the lookout for it, you might not even consciously notice. It’s just one more feature of a really, really good story. Which, can we take a second to appreciate how amazing this whole premise actually is??? Ideas – not just imaginary friends, but fictional characters and comics that were never drawn and movies that were never made – that are abandoned or lost have their own dimension, and their own societies, and our first-person narrator is a stuffed yellow triceratops. I want to see the inside of Hayes’ imagination so badly, because I have no idea how anyone could come up with all of this. I mean, the little premise summary I just wrote for you is very simplistic, because Spoilers, but – the way a Person’s experiences affect their Friends and Ideas, even once those Ideas move to the Stillreal; the existence of memories and future-memories; all the ways in which new Friends can be created and come into being… Does Hayes have a background in psychology? Because all of this reminded me of Pixar’s Inside Out (2015), except richer, darker, and more complicated (and diverse). I remember reading that one of the impacts of that movie was that it gave children struggling with mental health issues a way of expressing what they were feeling – doctors and nurses were giving them toys of those characters with which they could explain what was going on inside them. Imaginary Corpse is kind of like that in the way it pulls from psychology and neurology and social sciences as the inspiration/basis for some of its worldbuilding. It is, to say the least, freaking impressive. This is also a fiercely hopepunk story. I mentioned already that the characters, particularly Tippy himself, have to deal with some dark stuff; with failures and regrets and even depression. It’s not grimdark – there’s too much loveliness, too much to giggle about, too many reasons to hug this book to your chest and not let go. But there are darker parts, parts that will rip your heart out, parts that will make you tear up if you have a working soul. Parts that tap a little too deeply into the feeling of hopelessness that is the undercurrent of so many lives right now. But Imaginary Corpse… Look: there’s this amazing scene, in Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, where September, the main character, meets a soap golem who explains that over time, a person’s bravery gets tarnished, and dirty, and worn-out. And every now and then you have to scrub it clean so it can be all shiny again and you have the bravery and strength to take on the world again. The Imaginary Corpse is a book that washes your bravery clean again. It gently wipes at your eyes and heart and shows you how to feel wonder again, too; how to find joy in beautiful things and wonderful people and all the incredible things an imagination can do. And it does it while acknowledging how fucking hard that can be, which is what makes the message so potent and so true. I am slowly assembling a ‘best fantasies of the decade’ list, to be published near the end of the year. Imaginary Corpse is going to be on it. You are not ready for this level of awesome. But you should absolutely read this book anyway.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Wow. I'm slamming back some amazing debut novels this year, and here comes another one! You've been warned. And now for something completely different. How to even describe Imaginary Corpse? It's an immensely creative, bittersweet sugar rush of a fantasy-noir novel: Who Framed Roger Rabbit meets Paranoia Agent with a touch of creepy-cute Coraline atmosphere. Tippy the triceratops is an appropriately noir-cynical detective with a likewise appropriate tragic backstory. He keeps his darker, damper si Wow. I'm slamming back some amazing debut novels this year, and here comes another one! You've been warned. And now for something completely different. How to even describe Imaginary Corpse? It's an immensely creative, bittersweet sugar rush of a fantasy-noir novel: Who Framed Roger Rabbit meets Paranoia Agent with a touch of creepy-cute Coraline atmosphere. Tippy the triceratops is an appropriately noir-cynical detective with a likewise appropriate tragic backstory. He keeps his darker, damper side at bay by self-medicating with rootbeer floats and spins in the dryer, and likes to stay busy solving mysteries in the Stillreal--the place where imaginary Friends go when no longer needed. Things take a Paranoia Agent-like turn when a mysterious bat-swinging entity starts murdering--permanently--the normally unkillable (and mostly adorable) Friends. And like Paranoia Agent (Please tell me I'm not the only one who's seen it) things are more than they seem. The "cute stuffed animal" and "nightmare slugger" have more emotional heft than what my description above may suggest. While the physics of the Stillreal are some of the most inventive I've come across in a long while, the story throughout retains a swift pace and just the right amount of Weird to stay accessible. I heartily recommend The Imaginary Corpse to any reader seeking something delightfully different. *note*: I received an advanced review copy of this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dianthaa

    The Imaginary Corpse is one of the September releases that I saw everyone raving about and couldn’t wait to get my hands on. And then I did, and I’m on the hype train, front seat and all. Everything about this book is my sort of thing, though that can be a very specific thing and I’ll grant you it might not be everybody’s thing. I can do words me. What I’m trying to say is that, I know there must be something to criticize about this book, but I might be too in love to see it. This book is a like The Imaginary Corpse is one of the September releases that I saw everyone raving about and couldn’t wait to get my hands on. And then I did, and I’m on the hype train, front seat and all. Everything about this book is my sort of thing, though that can be a very specific thing and I’ll grant you it might not be everybody’s thing. I can do words me. What I’m trying to say is that, I know there must be something to criticize about this book, but I might be too in love to see it. This book is a like a warm hug, only sometimes you’re getting that hug as you’re hiding in a dark basement and you hear heavy footsteps on the stairs. I was not prepared for the dark themes, which I think were handled very well. At the end it did leave me uplifted, but in the process it gave me all the feels, and a lot of them weren’t happy ones. At first I was a bit unsure, imaginary friends, a stuffed dinosaur toy detective, even the tone in a way, was this a children’s book? But then there was stuff like PTSD and serial killers. Though in a way it is like a children’s book for adults. I felt like it really set out to remind us that goodness exists, that problems can be faced, that you can get back up after failing. The characters are shaped by ideas and ideals, they’re created by people based on their needs, they help make sense of a confusing world, protect people, love to cheer people up, or represent stereotypical antagonists to pit heroes against. As far as I can tell they all come to the Stillreal after a traumatic event and have different ways of dealing with that. I found it very interesting how they break down when faced with something that goes against their very nature, and how they pull themselves back up. Tippy is the cutest person. He elicits all the awws. He is so kind, and he tries so hard to be considerate of other people’s feelings. And he only wants to help people, because that’s one way he can make sense of the world. I thought the worldbuilding was interesting, a place on the border of imagination and reality, where discarded ideas go when they’re still too real to fade away but their creators can’t keep them anymore. They’re all a little bit broken, and have to fit around each other to find ways to live with the knowledge that they’re no longer needed, or that they failed. And I liked how real world horror seeped into this imaginary world together with the main villain. There is a certain cause and effect relation with the villain that isn’t exactly clear, it didn’t bug me when I read it but someone pointed it out after and I see it being a little off. The story is essentially a detective story, putting together clues to find out the truth and catch the bad guy. I liked how information was revealed, forgotten and remembered at the right times, I thought it was satisfying as mysteries go. I’m not the first one to say it, but I really think this is the sort of book I didn’t know I needed, but left me feeling so much better.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Peat

    When Angry Robot tweeted about this book a few weeks ago, I jumped up and down in excitement and was delighted when I got a NetGalley ARC. The idea of a detective in a dream-land of ideas and stories? Gold. And the detective is a fluffy Triceratops, greatest of the dinosaurs? I was, and am, actively jealous of Tyler Hayes for having the idea first. What I didn't know at the time was that the book is written in present tense, which would have cooled my excitement no small degree. That's my one big When Angry Robot tweeted about this book a few weeks ago, I jumped up and down in excitement and was delighted when I got a NetGalley ARC. The idea of a detective in a dream-land of ideas and stories? Gold. And the detective is a fluffy Triceratops, greatest of the dinosaurs? I was, and am, actively jealous of Tyler Hayes for having the idea first. What I didn't know at the time was that the book is written in present tense, which would have cooled my excitement no small degree. That's my one big irrational turn-off and its quite possible my lack of connectionTake it as you will. Hayes dreamland - the Stillreal - is a cool place. It's like Toy Story meets Sandman. It is also a big place, ranging from kids' toys to conspiracy theories and everything in between. Detective Tippy covers most of it and between that and the need to lay down the logic of the Stillreal, a lot of The Imaginary Corpse is taken up by exposition. Sometimes I actively cheered that choice. Sometimes I felt a little let down; not everything about the Stillreal excited me, which is likely with such a big palette being used. Either way though, the size of the setting impacted the story itself. Tippy's investigation is straight forwards and there wasn't much of a subplot, with Tippy staying focused on the case. The case itself seemed to be as much about the setting as anything, being more Howdunnit than Whodunnit or Whydunnit. And while that is cool, I think the lack of Who and Why led to a loss of hook in story and in development of the characters. I enjoyed reading about Tippy, Miss Mighty, Spiderhand and all, but none of them are characters I'm gagging to read about again (although a book about Miss Mighty and Doctor Atrocity squaring off would be good value). Tone wise, it's a slightly dissonant blend between the classic gumshoe "Tough Guy with a Big Mouth" narrator and Disney-esque Power of Friendship moments. The first half of that didn't quite work for me and I think that's partially on a lack of situations to work his big mouth on, but the emotional moments hit home, particularly near the end. But then, when looking back, I see that I liked this story most when it was about the crazy place called the Stillreal and less when it was a detective story. So that might be why. All in all, The Imaginary Corpse is (for me) one of those books that tries to do everything and has a lot of near-misses on the satisfaction count as a result. It is a pleasant read, but doesn't achieve the sort of hyper-fun romp you get from the best Fantasy Detective stories as a result. But all the elements are there where it will be that romp for someone who does connect with Parsons on what he tries. And there'll be a lot of people who enjoy The Imaginary Corpse simply because it tries something new and larger than life even if they don't enjoy everything in the book. After all, I did, and that's with one of my most hated narrative choices in there. So if anyone's looking for something different, something whimsical and imaginative and fun, step this way. (I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley from Angry Robot in exchange for an honest review - thanks peeps!)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grace Quinn

    I loved this book from the moment a saw the cover. The Stillreal is such a cool and creative setting, and who doesnt immediately love a triceratops called Detective Tippy?? My favorite thing by far though is the fact that it is not a childrens book. You read the description and assume it is, but its not, it's not even YA, and I love that. So rarely do you see adults embrace whimsical ideas for other adults. Whimsy seems to be regarded as something only for children, and I think that's a shame, b I loved this book from the moment a saw the cover. The Stillreal is such a cool and creative setting, and who doesnt immediately love a triceratops called Detective Tippy?? My favorite thing by far though is the fact that it is not a childrens book. You read the description and assume it is, but its not, it's not even YA, and I love that. So rarely do you see adults embrace whimsical ideas for other adults. Whimsy seems to be regarded as something only for children, and I think that's a shame, becuase it's one of my favorite things. This book perfectly illustrates that you can have a fun, creative, whimsical story, and also still have a deep, meaningful book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    John Wiswell

    It's an unusual comparison, but The Imaginary Corpse reminds me of Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw. In that novel, you were never sure if the next section would rely more heavily on the Victorian class struggle elements or on its weirdo dragon biology elements; it was an endlessly delightful mash-up that kept you on your toes by balancing its influences. The Imaginary Corpse pulls a similar amazing trick, this time mashing up Noir and a Fantasy world of imaginary best friends. You're never sure if the It's an unusual comparison, but The Imaginary Corpse reminds me of Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw. In that novel, you were never sure if the next section would rely more heavily on the Victorian class struggle elements or on its weirdo dragon biology elements; it was an endlessly delightful mash-up that kept you on your toes by balancing its influences. The Imaginary Corpse pulls a similar amazing trick, this time mashing up Noir and a Fantasy world of imaginary best friends. You're never sure if the next section will have cutesy and wholesome material of superheroes and knights trying to live up to the expectations of children, or devastating revelations of real life trauma. It yields a unique result, as there's so much in the book that is utterly charming, but you're not prepared to be charmed. It's a wonderful book. A perfect mental vacation for the cold, dark winter months.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tim Van Lipzig

    A genuinely original, surprisingly heartfelt dive into a world defined by innovation, trauma and kindness. I was on more than one occasion deeply touched and yes, moved to tears, by how careful Hayes approaches his characters and their wounds. Highly recommended, and I'm looking forward to either a sequel or whatever else Tyler Hayes will write next!

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