Retired soldier, Alex Easton is horrified to find their friends Roderick and Madeline Usher in a state of grave ill health.
The Usher house is surrounded by even stranger sights – spooked-looking hares, glowing substances in the lake, and toxic mushrooms. Determined to save their friends, Alex dives headfirst into the danger that lurks nearby.
What Moves The Dead is a gothic retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. I don’t know how it compares to the original text, but the Usher house sets the tone in this novella.
Its monstrous appearance, twisting corridors, creaking floorboards, and spooky crypt are all described vividly. So much so that I can still envision the setting.
I like that the story opens in medias res, introducing us to Alex and jumping right into the plot without any delay. This makes it so much easier for you to get invested in the story, and you know that T. Kingfisher is getting to the heart of the matter directly.
The writing includes some very grotesque imagery. If you’re easily spooked, I would not recommend this book to you.
Alex’s character is opinionated and loyal. Although we don’t get much backstory in terms of their bond with Roderick and Madeline, their actions and thoughts clearly depict how much they mean to them.
There are moments when Alex would make snide remarks about Americans. I wasn’t a fan of that.
I’ve realised that it must be T. Kingfisher’s signature style to have a protagonist who shares a close bond with an animal.
In The Twisted Ones, it was Mouse and her dog, Bongo. Here, it is Alex and his horse, Hob. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that Hob does have somewhat of a consistent presence in the novella.
There are a couple of scenes towards the end where Alex and Denton are trying to save someone – those were perfect! If the entirety of the book felt as seamlessly written, I would’ve LOVED this one.
It’s great that the author introduces a different set of pronouns. This adds to the conversation about gender identities, which is always important to foster a sense of inclusivity.
All in all, it was a decent read. I’m mulling over whether T. Kingfisher’s books are for me. Something just seems missing, preventing me from fully enjoying it and giving it that 5/5 rating.