The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes

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This was top five most unique reads I’ve ever had. It takes a lot to make me say that, because in most years, I read at least 100 books – most of which are fantasy.

This is set in the “Still Real”… a subset of the imaginary realm. Sometimes, there’s an Idea that’s so real, that even when the creator of the idea gives up on it, it continues to live on in the Still Real. This gave me partial flashback of Inside Out and Bing Bong. There are Ideas from kids that are focused on imaginary friends and nightmares… or those of adults that can manifest Ideas revolving around business and science fiction. The main character is a stuffed Triceratops named Tippy, and he’s the sweetest, cutest detective ever. I love how good natured he is, how he cares about his job, and all of the residents of Still Real.

Ideas are supposed to be unkillable once they get to the Still Real…. which makes a murder especially shocking and worrying….it becomes down right horrifying when there’s a series of murders and they people don’t “respawn” as it were. It’s up to Tippy to solve the case.

The setting is just so fun, all sorts of completely unique fantasy creatures, species, and fanciful things occupy the Still Real. There are different cities that are geared towards different groupings of ideas. The city Tippy lives in is designed around small children’s fantasies called Playtime Town, and there’s also a city for sci fi and cyber punk concepts/characters, for those who fit into the Dungeons and Dragons concepts, a city designed around super heroes, etc. It’s highly entertaining. Because they are creations and not organic individuals, they are bound to a certain kind of nature. Nightmares have no choice but to be a bit creepy and unpredictable. Tippy can’t help caring, it’s in his nature because that’s the way his creator made him. However, since they’ve been cut loose from their creator they gain a good amount of self determination. Having your nature determined by someone else isn’t all bad either, Tippy has something called his Detective Stuff that gives him super detective skills and a sixth sense for danger. I would also say this is very LGBTQ+ friendly, there’s all sorts of identities, sexualities and relationships represented

This isn’t without emotion though, it’s not completely fluff. There are moments that will really tug at your heart in all the sad ways. These are a group of rejects, and some of them are dreams deferred, things that are too painful now for their creators to think about, and none of it is pleasant. It’s an odd juxtaposition that keeps things from getting too saccharine. On top of that, the story line does get particularly dark… the murderer has a seriously fucked up backstory and shit got weird and depressing.

The pacing is fantastic, this was unputdownable – I didn’t feel any lag anywhere. The writing was very well done, I enjoyed the prose and the way things were described. Despite this being like an acid trip at times, I was able to visualize what was being described easily and didn’t sit there and go “what?”.

The originality was off the charts for all the reasons I described above.

I would recommend this to everyone, at least try it and see if you enjoy it.


  • Plot: 12/15
  • Characters: 13/15
  • World Building: 14/15
  • Writing: 14/15
  • Pacing: 14/15
  • Originality: 15/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 9/10

Final Score: 91/100