Review: What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

Posted July 26, 2022 by Stephanie in 4 Stars, Horror, Review / 8 Comments

Title: What Moves the Dead
Author: T. Kingfisher
Publication: July 12, 2022 by Tor Nightfire
Genre: Horror
Find it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo
Rating: 4/5★

From the award-winning author of The Twisted Ones comes 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.

“I hear things now,” he said. “Everything. My own heartbeat. Other people’s breathing sounds like thunder. Sometimes I fancy I can hear the worms in the rafters.”

What Moves the Dead is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, which just happens to be my favorite story written by Poe and that’s why I decided to read this book. It’s also my very first book by T. Kingfisher but I know it most definitely won’t be my last. I highly enjoyed this creepy story and I want more!

If you’re familiar with The Fall of the House of Usher you can clearly tell this book is a retelling of it because of the characters, the gothic and macabre feeling of the story but the author also added a lot of other intriguing things and went deeper into the story and what more it could’ve been. Also, you don’t have to have read the original story to enjoy this one. It stands on its own pretty well!

I really loved what T. Kingfisher did to the story to make it her own little creation. One of my favorite things for example was that the character of Lieutenant Alex Easton used nonbinary pronouns which is the custom when you join the Gallacian army. Even after retiring from work Alex decided to keep using those pronouns. The whole backstory of that particular tradition was really amazing to read about.

Needless to say Alex was a favorite character of mine. Another character I loved, and I’m sure she’ll be a fan favorite, was Eugenia Potter. She was an illustrator and amateur mycologist (someone who studies fungi). If you read this book you’ll see that fungi play a big part of the story and that’s where the brilliance of Eugenia came in. I loved every scene she was in.

Another thing I was really impressed by was T. Kingfisher’s writing. The way she wrote certain descriptions were both beautiful and gross at the same time. And that’s something you just have to have a knack for, I think. It was also a very creepy story and I just loved the way that the creepiness kind of sneaks up on you. And also, let me just say that hares will never be the same for me again. There’s a hare on the cover for a reason. Be warned!



About the author:

T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon, an author from North Carolina. In another life, she writes children’s books and weird comics. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy and the Eisner, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, Nebula, Alfie, WSFA, Coyotl and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections.

This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups. Her work includes multiple fairy-tale retellings and odd little stories about elves and goblins.

When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies.

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8 responses to “Review: What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

  1. verushka

    First, that cover! It is fantastic! The premise is interesting — I have always been reluctant to get into Poe’s writing so this might be a great sideways intro!

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