Robert R. McCammon's USHER'S PASSING

Intro by Robert R. McCammon (from promo material)

What would happen if one of the world's most powerful families was also one of literature's most infamous?

When I was a child, one of my favorite tales was Edgar Allan Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher." I could see Roderick roaming the gloomy halls of the ancestral mansion, could see his sister Madeline rising from the family vault, could see the fissure that finally cracked the house as it collapsed beneath stormy waters.

But what if the story didn't end there?

What if Roderick and Madeline had a brother who carried the Usher name into the future? What if the generations of Ushers created a business empire that not only changed American society but could destory civilzation as well?

And what if the present-day Usher descendant realizes that five generations of his family have concealed a secret so terrible that it long ago drove Roderick Usher to insanity, and so terrible that it now threatens to drag him down into the dark cauldron of the Usher heritage?

In Usher's Passing, each generation has a tale to tell, and their stories move across time to lead Rix Usher into the haunted heart of Usherland, where he must face both who he is—and what he is.

Usher's Passing grew out of love for both the craft of horror fiction and its master, Edgar Allan Poe. I hope you too are drawn into the complex web of events Poe began.

Robert R. McCammon


From the Holt, Rinehart, & Winston hardcover dust jacket:
"Move over, King and Straub!" —Houston Chronicle

"****" —West Coast Review of Books

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's classic story "Fall of the House of Usher," Robert R. McCammon makes a dazzling leap of imagination in this enormously entertaining and truly frightening novel. Usher's Passing asks what if the Usher story hadn't ended with the deaths of Roderick and Madeline over a century ago? What if they'd had a brother to carry the family name—and infamous legacy—into the future?

Set in North Carolina in the present, Usher's Passing begins weaving its spell with the arrival of Rix Usher at the deathbed of his father. The powerful patriarch must hand over the family scepter to one of his three children. An antiwar activist, Rix wants no part of the $10 billion Usher Armaments business. His sister's drug habit and brother's gambling and drinking hardly recommend either for a position of such extraordinary wealth and influence. But whoever is chosen stands to inherit not only the lucrative business of destruction...not only the vast, opulent estate that legend says is haunted by nightmarish creatures...but all the horrifying secrets of the Usher family's mad heritage.

In Usher's Passing, each of five generations has a tale to tell, and their stories move across time to lead Rix Usher into the haunted heart of Usherland, where he must face both who he is—and what he is.

From the British Pan paperback:
"You can't turn your back on the Usher heritage, no matter how hard you try...."

In Edgar Allan Poe's classic tale of the dark powers of madness and evil, Roderick Usher and his sister Madeline perished. But supposing there had been another brother to carry the hideous legacy into the future....

Walen Usher is slowly dying. Deformed, grotesque, reeking of decay, he summons his three children to the vast North Carolina estate wherein successive generations have concealed a secret so diabolic that it drove Roderick to insanity.

As Rix Usher waits to see who will inherit Usher Armaments, he begins to delve into the family archives, uncovering a horrifying history of madness, murder, and sudden death. At the same time, the insidious evil that for over a century has shaped the Ushers' destiny prepares to unleash its most devastating onslaught against an unsuspecting world.

In the haunted heart of Usherland—in the Devil's sanctuary—Rix Usher must face both who he is—and what he is....

Academic Essay

Marian Motley-Carcache wrote an essay entitled "The Call of the House of Usher: The Poe Element in Robert McCammon's Usher's Passing" for the Fall/Winter 1990 issue of Journal of Popular Literature. You can read the essay here.


"House of Ushers' Fall Continues", Maritimes Magazine, September 1985
Review by Wayne C. Rogers. Editorial Review
In this most gothic of Robert McCammon's novels, setting is key: the continuing saga of the Usher family (descended from the brother of Roderick and Madeline of Edgar Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher") takes place in the weird and picturesque heart of the North Carolina mountains. The haughty, aristocratic Ushers live in a mansion near Asheville; the poor but crafty mountain folk (whose families are just as ancient) live on Briartop Mountain nearby. At harvest time, when the book's action unfolds, the mountains are a blaze of color. Add to the mixture a sinister history of mountain kids disappearing every year, a journalist investigating those disappearances, a monster called "The Pumpkin Man," moldy books and paintings in a huge old library at the Usher estate, and a secret chamber with a strange device involving a brass pendulum and tuning forks--and you've got a splendid recipe for atmospheric horror.
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