Review: What Moves the Dead by T.Kingfisher

This book was released on July 12 and although I finished the book and reviewed it in plenty of time, I forgot to schedule the blog post (ahhh). Anyway, better late than never, I guess!

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

Released July 12, 2022

Source: ARC received for review consideration

Dark Fiction  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Bookshop

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.

My 2 Cents for Free!

What Moves the Dead is a retelling of Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”. I love that little story, but I always have so many questions when I finish it because I am nosy and it’s no secret that it’s a bit vague and mysterious when it comes to certain events. T. Kingfisher keeps the gloomy as hell setting, the atmospheric writing, and fills in the blanks but also adds in some signature wit and a few original characters including the creepiest hares you may ever meet. Seriously. You might have a nightmare or two about those dreadful, unsettling things. I did. ๐Ÿ‡๐Ÿ‡๐Ÿ‡

I’d recommend reading “The Fall of the House of Usher” if you’re unfamiliar if only to compare the two. It’s not necessary because this is a retelling, but I found doing so made everything even more enjoyable. I loved reading all the little additions, exploring the grounds so thoroughly, being privy to all of the conversations that were created for this story to fill it out, and having all of my questions finally answered. It’s like Kingfisher took a magnifying glass to the world created by Poe and then took a good long look around. It’s so incredibly imaginative.

Alex Easton is our narrator. Alex is a soldier with a unique set of pronouns created specifically for the genderless army. Everything is explained clearly and to see people using "him" in their reviews or saying they’re confused has me wondering if they skimmed the book or are purposely being disrespectful but anyway . . .  Alex receives a letter from an old friend, Madeline Usher, who fears she may be dying in very short order. Alex, being a loyal friend, makes haste and heads to the Usher home to find it in a severe state of decay and surrounded by grotesque mushrooms. Alex is greeted by Madeline’s brother Roderick who isn’t looking so great himself. Something is most definitely wrong with this place and its grounds, and it only gets worse the more Alex pokes around and chats with the locals.

This book is full of fungal, fungi, mushroomy goodness. My friend Tracy calls it sporror (click the link for some recs - you know you need some). This gooey, smelly fungus is one of the greatest horror micro-genres if you ask me. It’s right up there with body horror. Actually, the two usually live quite grossly comfortably together come to think of it!

I enjoyed this wild retelling so much. It was cringy gross, it was creepy, and it also had some great original characters and humor that hits just right. You'll never catch me bitching about some well-done comedy breaks in a horror novel. It has things to say about gender and I loved the way Kingfisher blended it all into the fabric of this gothic nightmare of a story.  4 ½ stars and highly recommended.



  1. That sounds fun. I've always liked a retelling.

  2. I like the idea of taking something like Usher, using it as a template, and then adding MORE. Fleshing things out. And fungi horror? I'm here for it.

  3. It's been so long since I've read The Fall of the House of Usher. I should probably read it again before reading this one.

  4. Ha! Sporror. The whole thing sounds oddly compelling.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  5. Nice post thank you Theresa


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