Home Books Guest Review: Writing Reviews: Touching the Dead by T. Kingfisher

Guest Review: Writing Reviews: Touching the Dead by T. Kingfisher


This is the cover, am I right? Haunting horror-horror story, What moves the dead T. The Kingfisher is exactly what a Poe retelling should be. I’ve never read anything by Kingfisher, but if this is any indication of their other work, sign me up. What moves the dead creates a new interpretation of what really happened in The Fall of the House of Usher.


When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeleine Usher is dying, they race to the Ushers’ homeland in the remote countryside of Ruritania.

What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growth and possessed wildlife surrounding the dark, pulsing lake. Madeline walks at night and speaks in strange voices, while her brother Roderick suffers from a mysterious nervous illness.

With the help of a dubious British mycologist and a confused American doctor, Alex must unravel the mystery of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This did not influence my review, which is unbiased and honest.)


It’s been a while since I read The Fall of the House of Usher, so I wasn’t too tempted to make comparisons, which I think is generally for the better with retellings. Kingfisher has such a vivid writing style that it only adds to the eerie Poe feel of this retelling. For now What moves the dead really has a gothic feel to it, Kingfisher still includes a good amount of clever humor in the narrative and dialogue. Aside from being a novella, it doesn’t take much to get into this story and experience this horror. I listened to it as an audiobook, but plan to read it as well to see how that might change the experience.


The Kingfisher introduces new characters to the story, which I think adds a lot to the book as a whole. You have two siblings, like in the original tale, but also a main character who is a family friend, a doctor, I guess, also a family friend, and a friendly neighborhood scientist. I just love Miss Potter, the eccentric mycologist (but honestly, what mycologist can’t be a little eccentric). The characters were well developed and didn’t feel like unnecessary additions to get more words on the page.

In general

Definitely a must read for anyone who likes gothic horror, Edgar Allan Poe, mushrooms, whatever What moves the dead. It felt like a fresh take on Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher without straying too far from or relying on it. And if you haven’t already, please join me in checking out T. Kingfisher’s other works!

Find What moves the dead on Goodreads, Amazon, Indy, Bookshop.org and Book storage


What is your favorite Edgar Allen Poe story?

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