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Mortal Remains

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Morticia. Ghoul Girl. Freak. Eighteen-year-old Lily McCrae has heard it all. But despite what the bullies say, she loves her job doing makeup for the dead for her family’s failing funeral home business. Lately, though, Lily’s best friend Mallory is too busy reinventing herself to hang out, her stepbrother Evan is preoccupied with college applications, and her father is pushing her into taking over the family business without even asking her opinion, so she feels lonelier than ever. She finds herself spending all her time in the prep room talking to her “clients.” After all, the dead are the only ones who really listen.

Then the neighboring house is leveled in an explosion, dredging up memories of Adam, the boy who lived there and saved her life the day of the accident that left her scarred and disabled, and of the things she saw there that she just wanted to forget. When she, Mallory, and Evan go exploring and find a mysterious hatch in the rubble, they discover that someone’s been trapped inside. Someone who says his name is Adam. Trouble is, Adam has been missing for four years. And this Adam doesn’t have any memory of her and seems to be keeping a lot of secrets. As she spends more time with him, she can’t help her growing feelings even as his unwillingness to be open leaves her troubled.

Lily is forced to reconcile her feelings for Adam as together they delve into his mysterious past while she also struggles to figure out what she wants out of life and tries to fix her rocky relationships with Mallory and her parents. Will Lily ever decide who she wants to be? And is love enough to overcome truth?

368 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2021

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Mary Ann Fraser

46 books17 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews
Profile Image for Athena (OneReadingNurse).
691 reviews98 followers
February 25, 2021
Thank you so much to Sterling Teen for the giveaway win! I won a finished copy of Mortal Remains and found it to be a quick and entertaining YA contemporary / paranormal read.

Lily works in her family’s funeral home. She is extremely talented at the makeup and fixing required to make bodies presentable for open casket funerals, although this profession earns her quite a bit of bullying and teasing from peers. Lily had an accident as a child as well that left her slightly crippled, and now she finds her solace talking to bodies and honoring their lives

Adam was the neighbor kid that Lily used to hang out with until his father chased her off. Did she see a body one night?? When Adam’s house is blown up and he is found weeks later in an underground laboratory, with none of his old memories, all weirdness break loose

I think the relationship arcs in this book are great. Finding Adam starts to slowly bring out the self confidence and self acceptance that Lily needs to find her own path. The father wants her to take over the mortuary business, the step mom is kind of just mean, actually they both are. Lily needed an external source to start seeing her actual worth. Watching her gain the confidence to deal with the bullies AND her family was nice. Both teens have a great character arc.

The supernatural part includes Adam and whatever his father was doing down in that underground lab. No spoilers here but the mystery involved kept the story moving as they searched for answers about his life.

There was a bit of teen partying too, Lily had one friend that still tried to bring her out into the social world of her peers, with mixed results. There are not so subtle hints at party safety and drunk driving included. These parts were good to round out the lives of the characters and give them that real teenager aspect.

So yes – a cute budding romance (only to kissing, nothing more), a paranormal mystery, also a murder mystery, mortuary science, a girl overcoming her fears and her bullies, and friends sticking together. No language or sex or anything else that kids really don’t need to be seeing either.

I would happily recommend this one to teens and fans of YA!
Profile Image for Fal.
131 reviews23 followers
December 2, 2020

Mortal Remains is a Young Adult Fiction novel written by Mary Ann Fraser following Lily, a morticians daughter, as she gets to know the strange happenings around her and her former childhood friend, Adam.

Unfortunately, though the premise sounded interesting to me (gothic! Mystery! Former friend-to-lovers plot?) it really didn’t deliver on any aspect. The start of the novel was relatively strong. However, it didn’t take long for the pacing to slow to a stop. The characters would do something and it felt more like I was supposed to be reading a slice of life novel than a mystery. I started wondering, “okay, what’s the point of all this?” at several different parts. It has a relatively action packed ending, but it also feels jumbled. Mostly, because it’s hinging on the haphazard plot building the author set 20% until the book ends. It’s too rushed at the end. Though it was interesting, it fails to come down with any feeling because there was not enough tension built in the chapters before it.

Besides the pacing, the characterization also suffered from the authors tell-don’t-show writing. I never felt connected to these characters. Mostly because I felt like anyone could act out of character at any moment. I could tell the author was trying to create a complex family, but it fell pretty flat. Instead of reading about a family that owns a small business where all hands are on deck and thus, their relationship to each other is very nuanced, maybe strained, but still interestingly written, we instead get a story about an 18 year old who quite literally runs this mortuary, who doesn’t get paid or compensated in any actual substantial way, and whose good nature is taken advantage of by her father, and STILL gets blamed for every failure of the business. We’re supposed to want her to take over the family business? She’s literally had no other choice but to run the family business and deal with her horrid family her whole life! That is indentured servitude!

I feel like I’m going on about this for too long. There were other issues I found with this novel, but it mostly had to do with the aforementioned issues I brought up earlier. I did actually find Lily and Adam interesting. I think with a little - okay, a lot - more brushing up in terms of writing and characterization, I could root for them. However, this was a bust for me.
Profile Image for Halli Gomez.
Author 3 books22 followers
January 28, 2021
What a great premise - Edward Scissorhands meets Six Feet Under. I was sold right away! I really enjoyed this young adult novel. It was fast paced with an original story and filled with twists and turns - even in the very last chapter. This story kept me guessing and on my toes. A definite page-turner.

The world of Lily McCrae is set in her family's funeral home and she is the resident cosmetologist. She is an interesting character, she has regular conversations with the dead, and one you get behind from the very beginning. It's easy to travel with her on her journey toward self-discovery, deciding what she wants to do with her life and struggling with what is expected.

I loved the twists and turns in the story that start at the beginning with Lily's childhood literally coming back to life. There's danger, bad guys, scientific intrigue, and a touch of magic. Of course the love and friendship makes it complete!

Profile Image for Alaina.
6,290 reviews215 followers
June 6, 2021
I have received this ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Mortal Remains was a pretty interesting thriller to dive into. I feel like this would have been a fun book to dive into around Halloween just because of all the creepiness. Could just be me though. In it, you will meet Lily McCrae. She works in her family funeral home which was pretty weird but cool at the same time. I don't know anyone who has a family owned company, like a funeral home or anything else, so I was pretty intrigued to see how it all worked out.

Back to Lily, she's a bit awkward and kind of an introvert. Ever since her accident, she likes talking to the dead bodies that she is making beautiful. It's sort of calming to her because real people kind of suck. Or at least her fellow peers since they bully her a bunch of times due to her job. Not a huge fan of this crowd but luckily she finds someone to help break her out of her shell.

Enter Adam. Honestly, this guy was one giant mystery to me. Mostly because not a whole lot made sense to me once he came into the picture. So it's safe to assume that I was very suspicious when it came down to him. Once we got little pieces of his past, things definitely started to make sense and it definitely made the book more interesting.

In the end, the entire mystery kept this book a page turner. There was also some hints of a romance but it wasn't the main focus. Just a few kisses here and there - nothing major. Oh, and the character growth for Lily was pretty good. I was very happy to see her overcome a ton of stuff throughout the book.
Profile Image for Tonja Drecker.
Author 3 books183 followers
February 16, 2021
With a main character, who does the make-up for the dead, this is a tale which dances in the shadows with grace and mysterious allure.

Lily's family owns a small, local morgue, and while she's still a high school student, she's also responsible for preparing the deceased for viewing. She takes her job to heart and gives her all, but then, she always has felt more comfortable being around the dead than the living...something which she's been bullied for all of her life. Her father wants her to continue the business, although it's going under, but she's not sure she wants to, anyway. When an estate several blocks away literally explodes, she saves a boy, whose memory is half missing. He seems to be her long-lost childhood friend, who strangely disappeared years before.

The beginning of this book is so grabbing. Lily is a teen but works every free moment at her family's morgue and prepares bodies for the viewings. It's a strange job, but Lily is talented, has a heart of gold, and pays the dead a respect that can only be admired. Her insecurities and awkwardness in the real-life social arena make her easy to identify with and a true heroine to root for. She has everything a good character needs to be likable until the end. Add the exploding house and mystery around a strange boy she rescues, and it starts out with a bang.

This is a woven tale, which allows the characters to gain depth, personality and face their own problems, while focusing on Lily as she learns to accept herself and find her own voice in the world. As this more personal, character development unfolds, the author brews a mystery in the background, which wraps in a bit of intrigue along with it. This makes the book feel as if it has two plots. The first half of the book gets the tale going on Lily's personal side, but then falls into the more tense mystery and intrigue toward the second half.

There's a lot happening in this read with Lily's inner development, her family, relations with her friends, and Adam's mystery. And I think this is what also caused a slight lull about one-third of the way through. The author spends quite a bit of time building the relationship between Lily and Adam, and allowing Lilly to gain quite a bit of depth, before diving into the action, kidnappings, dark SUVs, and danger. The ending wrapped everything up a little quickly and did skip over a bit of logic, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit and appreciate the originality of it all.

In other words, this is a read, which includes both something for character depth fans as well as acting and intrigue lovers. It's bitter sweet, dark, has teen-angst, a touching romance, and dives deep into the problem of learning to be true to yourself. And all of that with a flair of its own.

I received an ARC and enjoyed this tale quite a bit
Profile Image for Permanently_Booked.
816 reviews55 followers
February 3, 2021
**Try not to read reviews that give away in-depth details on the characters.**

Call me weird but I love paranormal type love stories centered around ideas you don't normally consider. Fraser took the introverted lifestyle of a mortician's daughter (Lily) and wove a beautiful young adult tale of first love, loss and a dash of mad scientist and lore.

It's a slower paced plot built around the mystery of a lost boy (Adam) whose found injured in an underground vault. The delicate progression of feelings and mystery made this a read I didn't want to put down. The reveal was one I did not see coming and its also not one I see often which was quite refreshing.

I really enjoyed Fraser's writing style and how she brought the character persona's to life in her prose. I'm not typically one for high school drama and the like but found myself drawn to Lily and her circumstances. The themes surrounding bullying, attempted sexual assault and sibling death were tastefully depicted and in certain aspects of closure, they were touching. Sometimes it takes a YA novel like this to make us realize how a job like a mortician's has a quiet and heartfelt beauty to it.

I would recommend this to young adult readers who enjoy a subgenre like this. Those looking for a slower paced love story with connectible characters and reflective themes.

Thank you Sterling Teen for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review. I'm excited to see what new reads come our way from this new Imprint!
Profile Image for Taiyeaba.
675 reviews42 followers
October 17, 2021
Um.... ..that was not what I was expecting. I thought it'll be a fantasy but it turned out.......god knows what.
I felt like lily overreacts to everything. Few of her actions actually pissed me off. Example - when she lashed out at seph on his brother's funeral. He might be a bully, evil and what not but she shouldn't have choose his grieving time to be her brave self and fight back. Another example when she told Adam to go to zmiri's himself while he was actually begging for her to come. He wasn't socially adaptable at that time. It was clear that was too early to go anywhere with his own self.
Big question. Why lily never mentioned her encounter with neil 5/6 years ago? It was a vital information which she never bothered to tell anyone.
I didn't like how her family treated her. Yes she overreacts but how can they behave so ungratefuly? At one point I felt like Mallory was her friend just to get on with Evan. And oh god her career choice!!! That was such sham. We can see she loves doing the work she does so why would she want to back down? She should have talked to her father about those expectations. And why would her father would not even encourage her ideas if he actuality want her to inherit the business? This book is so messed up.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for BiblioNomad.
69 reviews27 followers
March 9, 2021
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book.

Mortal Remains in a debut YA gothic mystery story about a teenage girl who works for her family's funeral home. The moment I read that she is a makeup artist for the dead, I knew I had to read this book.

This book has it all, a quiet girl learning to stand up for herself, budding friends to lovers romance, family business complexities, mysteries and big twists. And yet, it lacked consistent pacing and a strong plot. This book had so much potential with its premise in the beginning but fell flat halfway through. A few strings were left loose that could have helped the plot more. However, I was still hooked until the big reveal after which the plot just slackened. The ending, in my opinion, was a little rushed with very little explanations given for what was happening.

I liked the protagonist's character and loved watching her grow into a stronger person. I enjoyed the subtle romance too. But I wasn't a fan of the dynamics between the family members portrayed in this one.

This was definitely a fun read but could have been so much more. The setting isn't atmospheric enough for a gothic mystery book. However, I did quite enjoy the unique premise and the twists and turns.
Profile Image for Deitra Cross.
46 reviews
February 4, 2021
I received this as part of a book tour for the release and I have to say this is one of the coolest concepts that I have ever seen for a book. Edward Scissorhands and Six Feet Under! Death tends to be a touchy subject in any aspect of life and most people tend to use reading as an escape from real world worries but I enjoyed this book so much. Lily goes through a lot in this worrying about not wanting to take over her family business....a funeral home. It was passed through her family through generations but she feels like she is being reigned in and wasn't given a choice. Not only that the mysterious boy that saved her life when she was younger seemed to appear back in her life after disappearing for years which causes her to question a lot.

I love the dynamic of this story and the fact that you see this shift in Lily as the story progresses. She was so use to be picked on by not only the kids at school but her family as well. She went from this quiet girl who didn't know how to approach difficult situations to someone who became everything she always wanted to be.

I only had two major problems with this story as a whole. One was the relationship between Lily and Adam in different parts of the story. I'm not a hundred percent sure of the full time frame of this story but Adam went from not really knowing how to interact to suddenly becoming this person who knew how to react in situations he'd never been in. Not only that there were points where I was hardcore wanting him and Lily to just get together already and then there were other parts when I was just kind meh about them. By the end I did really appreciate the kind of relationship they ended up having and how the author tied it all up for the pair.

My other issue though was her parents, mainly her father. You saw the shift in her relationship with her stepbrother as she started to stick up for herself more but her father was straight up atrocious to a daughter he supposedly cared for. He was constantly belittling her and the one point when I thought things had shifted for the better it ended up backtracking and he started in on her all over again. There were quite a few times I wanted to punch him in the face for the way he was treating his daughter and I kind of wish that would have been dealt with.

Other than those two points I did enjoy this change in storyline. I'm a sucker for macabre topics and it was definitely a change from most of my YA fantasy reads.
Profile Image for CR.
2,834 reviews28 followers
March 23, 2021
I fell in love with Lily almost immediately. I mean who doesn't love the clumsy girl who talks to dead bodies? I often found myself at the edge of my seat while reading this one and just couldn't stop. There were so many twists in the story that kept me guessing up until the end. The characters in this story are so lovable and easy to relate to. You have the main character Lily, who was bullied most of her life for being the goth mortician's daughter that had a bad limp after a tragic accident, along with her sarcastic older brother and best friend who stumble upon a nearly dead Adam while searching the remains of his house. Adam was an interesting character. From the beginning we know there's something not quite right about him but Fraser keeps us guessing as to what it is until nearly the end of the book. I loved watching Adam help Lily grow and figure out exactly what she wants in life. This book handles death and the loss of loved ones in a way that makes it feel ok. The story was quirky and suspenseful and perfect for a weekend read.
Trigger warning: sexual assault, mentions of suicide, and child abuse.
Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 21 books373 followers
December 10, 2020
Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Mortal Remains in exchange for an honest review.

Writing and characterize, Mortal remains is slightly above average, but it really lost me in the plot. The opening was so well done and I was so intrigued with the mystery surrounding Adam, but I have a big pet peeve for books that make what's going on so obvious that they need to have their 'smart' protagonist basically ignore a ton of clues. It made the lead up to the reveal kind of infuriating and after the reveal the pacing felt really, really off since there was no longer any mystery driving it forward.

The concept was really unique and interesting to read and there was definitely a lot of potential here, but it all felt pretty downhill after around the 25% mark for me.
Profile Image for Sarah.
170 reviews7 followers
April 11, 2021
Possible spoiler alert read at your own risk

I absolutely loved this book. This is exactly up your ally if you like science and golems
1 review
March 9, 2021
Mortal Remains is a suspenseful story packed to the brim with mystery, intrigue, and witty characters, with a healthy sprinkling of romance!

The book follows Lily McCrae, a girl working at her family's funeral home as a cosmetologist. Shunned by most of the people around her because of her profession, Lily is only comfortable talking to the dead. However, when a house in her neighborhood is reduced to its foundations in an explosion, memories of her childhood are dredged up; memories of a boy named Adam who saved her life, and was then never seen by her again. But when she discovers a boy who calls himself Adam in a bunker below the ruins, everything changes.

An absolute page-turner, this book keeps it's readers intrigued right to the end; with a unique plot, charming cast of characters, (from dark humor-loving Evan to popularity-obsessed Mallory, and of course, the mysterious Adam himself) and an incredible twist ending, it's bound to keep you thinking! (Even when you're not reading it!) Definitely an incredible YA debut for Mary Ann Fraser
740 reviews1 follower
February 2, 2021
'Mortal Remains' is a forthcoming teen thriller-fantasy; I got a copy from work as part of the big marketing push for this book, and it was a pretty good quick read. Lily is a mortician's daughter and assistant, getting ready for college and questioning whether she really wants to stick with the failing family business, even though the bodies she tends seem to be the only people she can talk to anymore. A devastating explosion and an enigmatic boy who might be her lost childhood friend draw her into a world of conspiracy and awkward social interaction, but there's deeper mysteries than she even suspects. It's not amazing, but it's got the page-turning quality of a good thriller where you keep reading one more quick bit to see what happens next, and Lily's anxieties will be relatable as she tries to deal with changing friendships and figuring out what she wants her life to be in the midst of fantastical events; if it can catch some good word-of-mouth it'll do well.

Spoiler for my major complaint, re: misappropriation of Jewish culture and mythology.
Profile Image for Jessica (a GREAT read).
1,668 reviews101 followers
January 28, 2021
I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in way compensated for this review.

Mortal Remains is Mary Ann Fraser debut YA story following teenage Lily, who works in her family's funeral home readying the newly deceased for their funeral. Then one day when an explosion happens in her neighborhood, she and her stepbrother and best friend go exploring the remains and they find a hatch. And inside this mysteriously hidden hatch they find Adam, the boy Lily met years ago who was rumored to have died.

There's a strange air of mystery surrounding Adam, he doesn't have all of his memories, he has no idea who Lily is, yet it's quite clear that he is "different." When he hears that his father had died in the explosion, he is incessant on trying to locate a metal lockbox that holds very important documents in it. Add in a few shady lurkers around the neighborhood and a whopping pile of secrets and mysteries and you would have the makings for a really great read.

Unfortunately, somewhere down the line, things fell a little flat. The shady lurkers pop up every once in awhile to spark an interest then they fizzle out. Mysteries get build up and they're ignored after a time. In between all the interesting bits you have the everyday lifestyle and trials of a teenage girl...in other words, boring stuff. By the halfway point I was really dragging and had to force myself to keep reading this one. The pacing was just terribly off. There was always so much build up and then it fizzled out when we had teenage normalcy. If you're a contemporary reader looking to get into the paranormal genre, this is definitely the read to ease yourself into that world. But for the paranormal reader, I am sad to say you will have to sift through 3/4 of the book before we even get close to the unusual happenings.

That's right, the first 3/4 of the book read very blandly. The teases of mysteries were nothing but that. It very nearly drove me bonkers. And when the big reveal finally happened in the last 1/4 of the book it was definitely a shocker, I'll admit from all my guessing, I did not land on this one! Sadly, even that shock factor didn't help too much with my rating. By this point I was already skimming things trying to get past our everyday life moments to get back to the story at large. I'd say there was some shocking reveals in this one, but by that point my interest was kind of lost already, I was merely trying to finish the book itself.

There was a bit of romance in this one too. It was the sweet budding kind between two somewhat awkward teenagers. Both don't really know what they're doing kind of thing, but the two have a kinship with one another and it ties back to a past meeting.

All in all, Mortal Remains was an okay read. It's not one I would pick up again or readily recommend unfortunately. Though I will say again to my contemporary readers, if you find yourself wanting to get into the paranormal genre a little at a time, this one is sure to fit the bill! There's intriguing mysteries afoot with secrets galore and of course the bizarre paranormal happenings towards the end, all coupled with what I assume are contemporary fan favorites of dating and parties and all the teenage normalcy.

Overall Rating 2/5 stars

Mortal Remains releases February 2, 2021
December 3, 2020
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Sterling Children’s Books for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Whoa, am I actually the first person on Goodreads to review this book? This is seriously surreal...I'm tempted to just yell "FIRST!" like those people in the comments sections of youtube videos...

Again, here we have an eARC that would have been the perfect read for October…

Mortal Remains was darkly funny at best and a bit sloppy at worst, but overall, it was a decent paranormal read.

Let’s start off with the good. The strongest aspect of Mortal Remains, for me at least, was the characters. Lily was a charmingly quirky protagonist, and the perfect character to drive the story. She had a very distinct voice and personality, and I loved all of her little mannerisms and attitudes towards working at the funeral home. Bits of her backstory (namely, the bullying she suffered in her early years of high school and the names she got called) weren’t terribly authentic, but I was able to brush that part aside. (I mean, what kind of high school bully calls somebody “Ghoul girl?”) However, I will say that Lily escaped the dreaded “Not Like Other Girls” trope; she was definitely a bit degrading of Mallory and the more “basic” crowd, but she reconciled it near the end of the book, which I appreciated. So we definitely dodged a bullet in that respect.

The synopsis on Edelweiss+ compared Mortal Remains to Edward Scissorhands (one of my favorite movies), and the comparison definitely showed through in Adam. Maybe a little…too much. Adam was charming to a point, but other than his backstory, I found him a tad bit bland. I liked his little outbursts in Latin, though. For me, at least, the twist about his origins and his backstory were a tad bit too similar to Edward Scissorhands, but it was different enough that it wasn’t plagiarism. The romantic subplot between him and Lily felt veeeeeeeeeeery forced, though. That really wasn’t necessary. Not that I don’t mind a romantic subplot every once in a while, but this one didn’t work for me. (Plus, there’s no way you can ever come close to Edward and Kim.)

The writing and plot were decent; it definitely feels like a YA debut, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing–it’s a good first try. There were sizable chunks between the 40-60% mark (I read this one on my Kindle) that felt like filler, and really didn’t contribute much to the story. The plot moved quickly, which was both a blessing and a curse; it lended itself to a story that kept me fairly hooked, but Fraser had the tendency to gloss over and understate some of the more climactic moments. There were definitely portions that could have been cut out (368 pages, so not too bad), but for the most part, it was somewhat compelling.

Even though Lily is supposed to be 18, Mortal Remains still reads like a novel on the younger teen spectrum of YA. And that’s not a bad thing at all–other than some dark elements, some mild swearing, and some violence, I really think this would be a great book for an 11-12 year old to get introduced to YA. The plot’s not too complicated, but it’s a bit more mature than your average children’s or MG book. So this would be suitable for a fairly wide age range, which I can’t necessarily say for a lot of YA books that I’ve read.

Overall, a darkly humorous paranormal YA that lacked in certain plot aspects and a believable romance, but boasted a unique heroine and a simultaneously lighthearted and spooky atmosphere. 3 stars!
January 9, 2023
Mortal Remains by Mary Ann Fraser is a prime example of literature for young adults. The writing style is incredibly simple, which is the primary reason that I believe this book is strictly a young adult read. The story is intriguing and kept me interested. The unfortunate downfall of this narrative is the adolescent writing style employed by the author. This stylistic choice did not detract from the story but often left this reader bored.

The protagonist, an eighteen-year-old girl named Lily McCrae, is quite easy for young adults to identify with. She struggles to determine what her future holds while juggling her father's desires regarding her future in the family business. One particular aspect that the author included that fought against the realistic genre they had set the story in was that the last few chapters included aspects of “magic”. It is never fully explained which leaves the reader with unanswered questions. It feels as if the author utilized the magic within their story as a way to tie up loose ends and get the story to where they envisioned it ending. The magical aspects were not necessarily needed and felt forced. It would have been beneficial to the author to weave details regarding the upcoming mystical elements throughout the story, or at the very least include hints that the story was more than a realistic fictional piece.

What initially caught my attention with this book was the front cover art. I found it to be simplistically beautiful as the book called to me from the shelf at Barnes and Noble. Before reading Mortal Remains, I was not familiar with Mary Ann Fraser or the books she writes. I was drawn in purely through the golden rose that adorns the cover of Fraser’s novel.

I would highly recommend this book to readers that are fans of young adult literature and who also have a love of science.

Regardless of the simplistic writing style, Mortal Remains by Mary Ann Fraser is an enjoyable read to delve into at the end of a stressful day.

Let us know if y'all identified with Lily McCrae as much as we did,
-Reading By Flashlight Bookery
Profile Image for DreamOfFire.
8 reviews1 follower
June 5, 2021
Empathetic characters and a unique setting!

It isn't often that I get invested in a main character from the first chapter, but I really clicked with Lily, the makeup artist for her family's funeral home business. Her empathy and the way she makes the reader feel special by sharing her secrets with us (when she normally only entrusts those with the dead she cares for) made me feel for her right away. There's a perfect blend of her inner thoughts and her outer actions, while she reveals details about her past that pull you through the story. I'd say her empathy made me like her, but her guilty conscious about what happened to the boy down the street is what really pulled me in.

It's also great to see social anxiety being represented in a realistic and sensitive way.

It's a fun little mystery that starts with a literal bang, when the home of the boy Lily has been avoiding for years gets blown sky high and Lily discovers more than one mystery on the property, including a young man who doesn't quite convince Lily that he's the boy she once knew.

I don't want to give any spoilers so I will just leave it at ADAM IS SO GREAT. I love him to pieces. I think he speaks to anyone who has ever felt out unsure about their place in the world. And his and Lily's growing friendship/romance is adorable.

I would 10/10 recommend this to anyone who likes contemporary YA, paranormal YA, or cute romances!

One other note:
I was a little uneasy at the idea that a funeral home was going to be a primary setting for this book. But pretty soon I lost my discomfort and was invested in it as well. It isn't morbid. It's almost a character itself in the story. And pretty soon I was really hoping nothing bad would happen to it, when it has cared so well--not just for the dead-- but for the generations of people who have called it a home.
Profile Image for Becca Mee.
906 reviews26 followers
April 16, 2021
Mortal Remains was one of those books that took me to places I didn't expect. It follows Lily McRae, daughter of a funeral home director who stumbles upon a mystery when her childhood friend Adam Lassiter is discovered in a fall out shelter without any memories after his house explodes. Determined to help Adam adjust to his new life and recover some form of his memories, Lily stumbles into a world filled with secret, top secret government projects and greed that puts not just Adam in danger-but herself as well.

Mortal Remains was a solid paranormal romance, although to me it veered into science fiction territory as well. You can't help but really like Lily. She's adorable and quirky and brings a lot to the table as an MC. I thought the friends to lovers dynamic between Adam and Lily was sweet. The mystery surrounding who Adam is and how he came to be where he was was a fascinating mystery that pulled me in and propelled me onto reading. I also appreciate how this book has characters and a tone that is geared more towards younger readers. In YA, that isn't always the case. That being said, I wished some of the more fantastical paranormal elements had been fleshed out better. The big reveals at the end just seem to come out of nowhere for better and for worse. Also, while the pacing wasn't bad, there wasn't really a point in this book where I felt hooked into it. Mortal Remains is a story about life and death, and about remaining true to yourself in a world that casts you out because you are different.
Profile Image for Kim.
258 reviews20 followers
September 27, 2021
*Spoiler free* *Jewish culture misappropriation*

“Vita eundo vires acquirimus. In life we gather strength as we go.”

I had intended on giving this book a 2 stars but the ending was much better than the rest of the book. Mortal Remains is not a paranormal book. If you were or are expecting this to be a ghostly tale You'll probably want to read something else. Yes, this book is based around death. Honestly it had a really cool premise and a surprise I definitely wasn't expecting.

Our main character is Lily Mcrae. Lily works at her families mortuary handling the cosmetic side of things, preparing people for viewings. The family business is not fairing too well, and neither is Lily's relationship with her family. One day a building down the road blows up. One that Lily has tried to forget. Ever since the day she lost her best friend there.

I read this one pretty quickly. With that being said this book was slower than molasses and left me with more questions than answers. You don't get any absolute answers until the last 100 pages. Sure there is the ever omnipresent mystery with this read but it wasn't enough to keep my on my toes. The story dragged.

I will not go into the misappropriation aspect of this book as it can ruin the main plot. But be very aware that it is in this book.

I will be putting this in the little free library nearby in the hopes that someone else will enjoy it more than I did.

Profile Image for Brianna.
33 reviews
February 7, 2021
I really don’t like writing bad reviews, and 9 times out 10 I don’t need to as I’m fairly easy to please.

This book however was very close to being my first one star review. The cover was pretty enough to earn at least one star, and I gave another star for the writing itself.

The author just seemed like she had too many ideas and stories she wanted to tell but no real cohesive story arc to tie them too.

The characters felt empty and there was no tension or build-up to create a connection to the characters or what was supposed to be happening in the scenes.

As someone who can be brought to tears by YouTube ads, I was shocked and disappointed that this book didn’t make me feel anything. Nothing. I never found myself rooting or sympathizing for any of the characters. The characters themselves never felt solid. The author seemed to have no problems manipulating the motives and personalities of the characters to suit her ideas.

Overall, I can’t and won’t recommend this book. There are much better options with these same story themes/concepts.
Profile Image for Kelly.
348 reviews
October 10, 2021
I really loved the romance in this book. It showed both the romanticizing of a childhood crush brought back and the realization that they have changed but eventually loving the person before you.

I loved Lily’s people-pleasing personality. Especially, her having trouble when she disappoints people. The problem with people-pleasing is that you can’t please everyone all the time. I can relate to that.

I do wish the reveal of Adam being a golem was made earlier. Maybe about halfway instead of closer to the end. Then I could have sat with Lily contemplating the revelation longer.

I did love the ending with Lily having to find a way to save Adam after the ‘emet’ had been damaged. The whole Neil still being alive, I didn’t really care for. But it all worked out in the end. This now one of my favorite books.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
73 reviews
March 11, 2023
Loved this book!!! I found it slightly predictable as I was able to guess the twist about Adam fairly early on in the book, but that might just be because I read a lot of YA novels. It's interesting that I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein right before this and I did notice a lot of similarities between the two stories.

I enjoyed all the other plot twists that kept happening. My only critique is that it's never fully explained how exactly Adam came to life from clay, or how using ashes from the human Adam allowed for him to develop his memories. But I guess it is fiction meant for younger readers after all.

I highly recommend this read for anyone looking for a good paranormal story with twists and turns that keep you guessing.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kasie.
63 reviews
January 25, 2021
I have mixed feelings about this debut novel. I liked the premise and characters. I enjoyed seeing life (& death) through the eyes of a cosmortician, but it was not an all out page turner.
I appreciate that the storyline was lighter than the recent stream of YA literature; heavily laden with complicated social and emotional themes. I'm also pleased that the novel was light on foul language and sexual intimacy.
Yet, I never felt emotionally connected with the characters. As a reader, I felt as though I observed the story from a distance; I never felt the intensity of being at the center of the action. In all, the story felt a bit flat and at time the pacing dragged.
2 reviews
January 4, 2023
So…I guess it was a cool little story about a girl who doesn’t “fit in” because she’s like a wannabe Wednesday Addams who works at her daddy’s morgue. Very stereotypical but I guess that’s simple and easy to comprehend for the readers it’s written for. I LOVE the cover art (that��s why I bought it tbh) but it was a super immature book and I thought it would be for an older audience. I did enjoy it because I know for a fact I would’ve loved this book when I was in 7th grade. Too bad I’m just now stumbling upon it, but oh well. Thanks Mary Ann, it was a cutesy little mystery I can recommend to my pre-teen cousins.
Profile Image for Alyson Kent.
Author 5 books29 followers
January 18, 2021
Thank you, Edelweiss, for the ARC.

I loved the premise and the idea behind this, but I got the impression the author had too many ideas and tried to fit them all in here. This left some things feeling rushed, such as an attempted sexual assault on a character (off screen for the most part) that is then never really dealt with and not really swept under the rug, but kind of just..... forgotten? I don’t know. It’s a fast read and I wanted to know how things ended up, but over all, kind of disappointing.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Rachael .
236 reviews4 followers
February 2, 2021
A big thanks to Edelweiss and Sterling Teen for giving me access to the digital ARC. All opinions are my own.

This book was just a bit meh. Nothing about the characters or plot made me feel particularly invested in them or the story. I also really hated how Lily’s family, especially her dad, would talk to her and she would just take it. Granted, there was some character development there but while reading it really frustrated me.

So overall, I didn’t like it but it wasn’t terrible either.
42 reviews
January 13, 2022
DNF this book…. It seemed interesting but then I really couldn’t get into it at all. I didn’t really like any character or the writing style at all. There was no reason to root for any of the character. Lily was mean and didn’t really have a personality except talking to literal corpses. There is no familial love or friendship love or any meaningful relationships in this book… all the characters just sort of don’t like each other? Idk something about this was severely unpleasant and I couldn’t read any more after some point.
Profile Image for R.M..
Author 12 books8 followers
May 5, 2021
Lily works at a funeral home. She runs into Adam, a boy she used to know with a cute romantic backstory. There’s a lot of mystery of what truly happened to Adam, which plays well into the mortuary scene. As death is always a question on the table, it makes the story intriguing as to what their relationship will truly be.
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