What Moves the Dead

What Moves the Dead
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Release Date
July 12, 2022
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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.

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Atmospheric retelling of Poe
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After Alex Easton receives a letter implying that their friend, Madeline Usher, is likely dying, they rush to the House of Usher. Once there, Alex realizes something strange is afoot. Madeline is ghostly pale, walking at night, and talking in the strangest way. Roderick, her brother, is equally unnerving, consumed by nerves and seeming guilt. Alex teams up with an American doctor and a local mycologist to uncover what is truly happening in the House of Usher before it is too late.

T. Kingfisher has such a talent for retellings, especially those with a bite of folklore, and WHAT MOVES THE DEAD is an excellent example of this. The general elements of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" are all there: a creepy house, creepier people inside it, and a strong sense of foreboding. Kingfisher leans in to each purposefully uncomfortable element and expands. Through the eyes of retired solider Alex Easton, we see a house and a family on the brink of collapse (literally and figuratively). Alex is a loyal, straight forward person, self-described as lacking a significant awareness of the supernatural, but the more unusual things they see and experience, the more obvious it is that something is very, very wrong. Even once we get a firmer understanding of what exactly is happening in the Usher house, the sense of unease remains strong.

The building tension throughout this short novel is powerful and perfectly horrific. This is absolutely the kind of book in which you may start reading one quiet night and find yourself unable to look away until the last page is turned. Fans of Poe and Silvia Moreno-Garcia's MEXCIAN GOTHIC will devour this spine-chilling take on a beloved short story.
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