Book Reviews

Review: What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

Okay I was expecting to love this. I heard so many good things about this novella. I normally like The House of Usher gothic retellings, but for me this was so hard to get through. Keep reading for my full thoughts in this book review of What Moves the Dead.


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 Ruravia.

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.


I wanna just start off by saying I am not super familiar with The House of Usher. What do I know about it? Gothic. Haunted house vibes. Cursed family. So that’s about what I knew going in except that I know so many people who loved this. But it wasn’t for me. Not going to lie, if you want to look for vibes alone then this has the vibes. It has this house which becomes a character. There’s this eerieness which slowly creeps in and stars building like a ringing echo. The unsettling vibes were strong. But for me, I couldn’t get behind the main character or the family.

I just left the novella thinking, “okay that was a vibe but like what?” I wanted to be invested both in the characters and their vibe. To feel not only the eerieness of animals not acting like we think as a person, as a reader, and as a character. There were the pieces of a story I wanted to latch onto, but I ended up having such an easy time putting it down at the end of the night. I liked the twists towards the end, but by that point I was wondering if I should have stopped reading.

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So is this for you? If you love books with the vibes then it might be. It certainly delivers the gothic vibes and there’s a suspense plotline which attempts to hook you in by the end. I’d say give it a try if you know you are a big vibe reader. But for me, I needed a bit more to cling to. Find What Moves the Dead on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


What book did you think you’d love and then didn’t?

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