By T . Kingfisher

An instant USA Today & Indie bestseller. Winner of the Locus Award for Best Horror Novel 2023 and finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novella 2023.From the multi-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.


This is my first book by T. Kingfisher that I have read. Obviously, I have been aware of her for some time and actually even own one of her other titles, something to do with a Wizard’s guide to Defensive Baking it is.

What Moves The Dead is a retelling of the Fall of the House of Usher, but focuses on the character of Madeline, and as T. Kingfisher explains in the afterward of the book, she was intrigued by what caused Madeline’s illness in the original story by Poe.

The story revolves around a soldier called Eastman who is invited to the House of Usher. When they get there, they discover that the occupants of the house seem to have fallen with a mysterious malady.

In addition to that there are strange occurrences, both in the confines of the house and the surrounding areas. Eastman notices that the animals are acting strange in the vicinity and there seems to be other things happening.

What Moves The Dead is an interesting and imaginative take on the original story, and whilst T. Kingfisher incorporates many elements of the original story, she also weaves new elements into the story.

This is quite a light horror story, mainly focussing on atmosphere and the mystery surrounding what is causing the mysterious ailment affecting Madeline, and whilst it was quite easy to determine what the cause for the mysterious illness is, T. Kingfisher manages to bring a new spin to the story of the Fall of the House of Usher.

Whilst not being particularly horrifying, one of the things that stood out for me was T. Kingfisher’s writing and her ability to evoke atmosphere in her writing. I could quite easily visualise the gothic architecture of the house and all its dark corners. In addition to that I loved her use of dark humour and wit. There were many times that I was chuckling at various points in the story.

Furthermore, all the characters are drawn really well, particularly Eastman, the non-binary soldier that is the friend of the Ushers. Also, Miss Potter, who is the fictional aunt of mycologist and children’s author Beatrix Potter, who just made me laugh every time she was on the page.

Overall, the story was a fun and made me not only want to get on with the soon to be released second book in this series, What Feasts at Night, but also seek out some more of T. Kingfisher’s horror books


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