What Moves The Dead by T. Kingfisher (Sworn Soldier #1)

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.

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Avi Roque (Narrator)
COVER ARTIST: Christina Mrozik (Art), Peter Lutjen (Design)
PUBLISHER: Macmillan Audio
YEAR: 2022
LENGTH: 165 pages (5 hours 11 minutes)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Horror

Queer Rep Summary: Genderqueer/Nonbinary Main Character(s).

WHAT MOVES THE DEAD is a retelling of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher", which I waited to read until after I'd finished the retelling. This was a good decision, leaving me room to enjoy what the novella actually does rather than waiting for the scant events from the original story to play out. The cast of characters is larger and significantly more developed than in the original, which is good. The particular fungal incursion is resolved, but as this gets a sequel I doubt the problem was handled once and for all, merely suppressed in this particular instance. 

Things I love, in no particular order: the way pronouns and gender are used; the appearance of a relative of Beatrix Potter, who was a children's writer/illustrator because of sexism precluding her from illustrating botanical texts; the way the discovery of the cause is approached; how creepy the hares are. 

Graphic/Explicit CW for body horror, gore, animal death, death.

Moderate CW for grief, alcohol, fire, sexism, blood, war, murder.

Minor CW for transphobia, misgendering, gun violence, medical content, medical trauma, suicide.

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A rabbit, open and distorted, with its musculature and bone partially replaced by mushrooms, a face of fur looks upward, a face of muscle and mycelium leans to the left


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