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The Imaginary Corpse

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  310 ratings  ·  96 reviews
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
Paperback, 297 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Angry Robot
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
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
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, edelweiss
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
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). ...more
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
More like 4.5, because I wasn't that impressed by the identity/nature of the Bad Guy, but rounding up because this is a fantastic, nuanced, imaginative debut novel: funny, kind, sad, brave, and very original.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“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
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
keikii Eats Books
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To read more reviews like this, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books!

96 points, 5 STARS!

"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."

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,
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it

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
Rachel Noel
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*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
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks, arc-s
“The name’s Tippy, ex-imaginary friend and once-and-current detective. It’s nice to meet you.”


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
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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!
David H.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Full review is ...more
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
Para (wanderer)
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Para (wanderer) by: keikii Eats Books
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
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
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.


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
M.E. Garber
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 30, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
Melissa Bennett
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If Pixar made a movie that was just for adults, but taught us anew all the things we were supposed to learn as children but all still need reminding of from time to time, it would be The Imaginary Corpse. This book is full of heart and delightful imagination. It's a mystery story about a dinosaur detective trying to solve an unthinkable murder, but really it's about how to keep going and take care of each other (and ourselves) when the challenges we face seem too difficult.
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Grace Quinn
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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Tyler is a science fiction and fantasy writer from Northern California, and a Social Justice Bard specializing in the College of Comfort. He writes stories he hopes will show people that not only are they not alone in this terrifying world, but we might just make things better. His fiction has appeared online in Anotherealm, Nossa Morte, and The Edge of Propinquity, and in print in anthologies fro ...more

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“When I arrived, I took detective work because it was what I knew how to do. I solve a mystery, and for a little while, I can keep the feeling at bay. The feeling that I’m lost. That I’m bad at life. That I’m a failure. But ‘at bay’ isn’t the same thing as ‘gone.” 1 likes
“But we’re still Real, just like the name says. We’re still Real, and we’re here, and if we could go back to our people?” I let that hang in the air for a second. “If we could help them again, even if it’s just one more time, is there any pain, any punishment, any awful thing we wouldn’t endure to make that happen?” 1 likes
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