What Moves the Dead

First edition, 160 pages

Published July 11, 2022 by Tor Nightfire.


View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (2 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

Review of 'What Moves the Dead' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Oh my gosh, I was really really enjoying this book up until maybe the last three chapters. Incredible how it pivoted so hard. I couldn't help but compare this to Mexican Gothic, a book I was a fan of. But this improved on that story in so many ways. The creepiness factor was really dialed up, and I found myself to be legitimately freaked out at times. I loved the body horror and almost alien, incomprehensible horror that they were trying to uncover. However all of that went downhill when Madeline, quite predictably, arose from the dead, being controlled by the fungus. That in and of itself wasn't an issue. I thought that was creepy. But having possessed a human, it gave voice to the fungus, which was apparently semi-conscious, had motivations, and was like a child wanting to learn more. There was a comically bad scene of Madeline moaning …

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.