Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
What Moves the Dead by T Kingfisher
Narrator: Avi Roque
Published by MacMillan Audio on May 31, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Length: 5 hours, 11 minutes
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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.
Leave it to T. Kingfisher to take an Edgar Allen Poe tale and turn it on it’s ear to something very different and somewhat twisted. What Moves the Dead is a strange retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. You do not need to have read The Fall of the House of Usher to enjoy what Kingfisher has decided to do with the story, it might even be more fun if you haven’t.
The House of Usher is a semi-dilapidated Manor House tucked away in the country next to a lake. Alex Easton, a former solder in the Galatian army has come to the house after Madeline sent a letter stating she was in a sickly state and may die. When Easton shows up he finds both Madeline and her brother Roderick in states of distress, both looking sickly. Madeline sometimes goes catatonic for a time and sleepwalks talking to herself, while her brother Roderick hears every little noise and is skittish as mouse with a cat in the house. There is also an American doctor in the house, a friend of Roderick, come to see if he can help.
Alex learns right away that something is not right in the house of Usher. The lake glows at night, the surrounding hares are strange and don’t act like normal rabbits, the fish in the lake have a wear white felt on them. Everything about the place is weird and after Madeline dies it seems her corpse cannot rest because Roderick hears it in the crypt. Is he mad or are the dead moving? Alex will find out the answer to this and much much more in this strange tale of an impoverished house the thing that haunts it.
I enjoyed this. I vaguely remember reading The House of Usher *cough* 30ish *cough* years ago when I went through a Poe phase. While I’ve forgotten most of the details of the story, I think this is a really interesting way to retell the happenings of that. There is some gender manipulation in this story as Alex Easton is a woman officer in the army instead of a man, which I usually think is fun to do in retellings. Definitely a semi creepy and interesting take on a classic.
Avi Roque is a new to me narrator. They were a good choice for the feel of the story and performed it well all of the voices were easy to differentiate and they added to the mystery of the story with their portrayal of them. I was able to listen to this at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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I’m starting this today, I can’t wait😁
That’s hilarious because Robin is reviewing Upgrade by Blake Crouch next Monday.
Robin and I have such similar tastes!
Haha. We have the best taste *wink, wink*
Hope you enjoy it. I love T. Kingfisher and while this isn’t my favorite story of hers (Swordheart) still is I really like it.
I am planning to listen to this one this week. I am really looking forward to it. I am not sure if I have read The House of Usher or not but I think that this one will be a good fit for me. I am so glad to see that you enjoyed this one, Robin!
I think it will be a good fit for you too Carole based on your previous liked books. How you enjoy it!
The Poe connection is a fun one. I liked the original story, but this version sounds even creepier. And that cover! Makes me shiver. 🙂
It is one of those books the cover makes perfect sense when you read the book. Totally creepy
That is one creepy and beautiful cover. The story sounds amazing too. Nice review!
So creepy. It is fascinating where Kingfisher’s mind goes.
I love Kingfisher’s writing – her Saints of Steel series, Swordheart and A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking are a total joy. However, right now I’m avoiding her darker work… Thank you for a lovely review and perhaps when I’m in a better place, I’ll dive into this one, Robin:)).
Thanks sjhigbee. Sometimes a book will make or break my current state of mind so I totally get that. When you are ready for something a bit different and slightly creepy but not horror this my fit.
Psst – Swordheart is still my favorite. You might try Nettle and Bone it was more along those lines I think.
What a weird cover!!! I stared at it for like 5 mins.
definitely a bit on the trippy side
I remember “The Fall of the House of Usher” as being supremely creepy. My younger self could handle it; my post-anxiety-diagnosis self thinks I’d probably best avoid this retelling, even if it is by T. Kingfisher (about whom I hear nothing but praise.)
Yeah I’d say jump into one of her other series. I loved Swordheart and The Clocktaur Wars. Those are both a good place to start
The cover on this is so eye-catching! I think I read House of Usher a long time ago too. It looks like this would be a good one. Great review!