The Fiction Fox
Review: What Moves the Dead - T. Kingfisher
Published: Tor Nightfire, July 2022
Rating: 5/5 stars
“The dead don’t walk. The thought beat at my brain like a fragment of some sort of song and rang in my ears on an endless loop. I even flexed my jaw in exactly the right way tot rigger a bout of tinnitus, but as soon as it passed, the words were there again. The dead don’t walk. The dead don’t walk.”
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.
With this retelling of Poe's classic short story The Fall of the House of Usher, Kingfisher delivers another fantastic piece of gothic-inspired horror that managed to complete unsettle me with its atmosphere and storytelling. Being familiar with the source material (so not quite as many surprises) didn’t take anything away from that.
Instead, Kingfisher does Poe’s original completely justice; keeping what made it great and expanding where the original left room. She brought the (originally flat) characters to life of the page, and had me genuinely scared and caring for their fates.
Amazing piece of horror that I highly recommend, especially if you liked the original, or the likes of Mexican Gothic or the more recent The Ghost Woods.
On a separate note: this cover deserves some awards. Stunning artwork and captures the vibe of the story perfectly.
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