Review—Woke Up Dead by Nadia Gilkes

You ever pick up a book so fast based on the elevator pitch alone? That’s exactly what I did when I saw the blurb for Nadia Gilkes’ Woke Up Dead.

From the blurb: Hope Allison McKinley died. Or, at least everyone thought she did. When she suddenly wakes up in the middle of her own funeral – to the shock of all her loved ones – that is just the beginning of her problems.

Combined with an eye-catching cover, I couldn’t resist.

Gilkes’ takes a topic that could easily have been a horror story for many of us, and puts a wild twist on it to keep the story light (as can be for the plot). Following the funeral, HAM, as her niece calls her, must unravel not only how she woke up in a casket, but put her life back together. Along the way she has to combat fraud, and wrestle with PTSD, and decide where a person goes after their own funeral.

The book reads like you’re sitting down to margaritas with your best girlfriend who is going to tell you the most bizarre thing that happened to her since your last yoga class. I mean this in the most complimentary way! It’s casual, full of the MC’s internal thoughts and asides, and both heartbreaking and delightful in turns.

Gilkes’ voice as a Black woman also shines, with little normalized touches of things that would be unique to her day to day life. I am a sucker for a cultural experience that is normal to someone not being spelled out for people outside that group. To me, that’s the goal of #OwnVoices and representation in fiction.

Woke Up Dead is a quick read at 109 pages, and I was able to read it in one go before bed. It’s free on Kindle Unlimited, and available in paperback from Amazon.

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