The book cover for “What Moves the Dead” by T. Kingfisher. A rabbit intertwined with pink and red fungi is placed against a dark background, with the title superimposed on it. Photo courtesy Macmillan Publishers.

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher (2022)

Trigger warnings for What Moves the Dead


Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” is brought back to life with a few new twists in T. Kingfisher’s novella, “What Moves the Dead.” For those unfamiliar with the original tale, the story begins with an old family friend called to the House of Usher, a decaying and isolated estate, in order to check on a brother and sister suffering from a mysterious ailment. This premise remains essentially unchanged in “What Moves the Dead,” but Kingfisher takes refreshing liberties with the addition of new characters and the expansion of the main horror element in a grisly way Poe would’ve been impressed with. 


The pacing is incredibly slow in the first half, but once the action unfolds, Kingfisher doesn’t pull punches. The horror is balanced out by strangely light-hearted interactions between the characters; a Kingfisher trademark that can be found across all of her titles. This levity, along with its length, makes “What Moves the Dead” a solid title for readers who are either looking to dip into the horror genre or want a “lighter” horror read.

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