When I first started reading this book, I thought it would be a historical fiction novel featuring Edgar Allen Poe and the Usher family that he wrote about over a century ago. It turned out to be set in modern day. I was hoping for historical fiction given that McCammon is terrific as an author in that genre. Having said that, Usher’s Passing did not disappoint.
It was an interesting and imaginative tale. In this world, the Usher family is one of the wealthiest in the world, with their fortune tied to the sale of arms. Rix Usher is the outcast of the family. He’s a horror writer (I imagine Robert McCammon put some elements of himself into this character). He’s vehemently against the family business but returns to their compound in North Carolina with his father dying. Although Rix doesn’t want anything to do with the family business, he wants to write an expose/history of the family in sordid detail. But what lurks beneath the surface is the supernatural and how the family has been able to achieve the fortune through ties with otherworldly forces.
There are some nice twists and turns in this novel. The main baddie here is the Pumpkin Man, a supernatural character who has been abducting children for decades. When the reveal was finally made about the Pumpkin Man’s identity, I was surprised. It was a well delivered set up that made sense in retrospect but caught me off guard. I thought there was good character development in this novel, with a good many memorable characters. The writing was strong and purposeful. The supernatural elements mixed in well with the parts that were grounded in reality. My only negative was that I felt it dragged in certain parts and could have used some trimming to make it a tighter story.