What Moves the Dead

First edition, 160 pages

Published July 11, 2022 by Tor Nightfire.


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4 stars (6 reviews)

From T. Kingfisher, the award-winning author of The Twisted Ones, comes What Moves the Dead, a gripping and atmospheric retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's classic "The Fall of the House of Usher."

When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruritania.

What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.

Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.

2 editions

Mmmm, Gore and Fungi

4 stars

So…probably should have read House of Usher first. As such, references and the quality of the adaptation is lost on me. But otherwise, what a delightfully horrible book! It takes quite a lot for horror to get to me, but Kingfisher’s prose is vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully skin-crawling.

The main character has great narration with lots of care put into kan descriptive choices and dialogue. This book touches on many topics; fungi, war and PTSD, the unfortunate state of being American (lol), and queerness that is respected and ingrained in the man characters culture of kan home country.

4/5 and an excellent, quick read! Recommended for those who want body horror, queer rep, characters with actual personalities, and thrilling writing that had me eating up the pages.

Creepy, gothic, fungal homage

4 stars

I enjoyed this from start to finish. I really liked the characters and connected with Alex Easton immediately. The remote location constrained the setting and I felt immersed in it. The contemporary treatment of gender was interesting, relevant to the story and understated. And the story was as creepy as heck.

What Moves the Dead

4 stars

I'm sure I read The Fall of the House of Usher at some point, but I didn't retain enough that I had any particular expectations for the direction of the plot, etc.

However, I did read Mexican Gothic relatively recently, so I spent a good deal of What Moves the Dead, once the overall shape of the story became apparent, nodding along and waiting for the characters to catch up - it gave me a chuckle to see the reference to Mexican Gothic in the author's note.

Great writing, an intriguing reimagination of the classic.

avatar for bluestocking@sfba.club

rated it

4 stars