Allison Epstein

Allison Epstein earned her MFA in fiction from Northwestern University and a BA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. A Michigan native, she now lives in Chicago, where she works as an editor. When not writing, she enjoys good theater, bad puns, and fancy jackets. She is the author of historical novels including A Tip for the HangmanLet the Dead Bury the Dead, and the forthcoming Our Rotten Hearts.

Find Allison on her website, or follow her on Twitter @rapscallison.


  • Standalone
    Let the Dead Bury the Dead
    Allison Epstein
  • Standalone
    A Tip for the Hangman
    Allison Epstein



Let the Dead Bury the Dead
"Epstein’s unique retelling is richly enhanced by Slavic folklore, and the confusion between duty to family or country is expertly portrayed. Historical fiction fans will be spellbound."

Publisher's Weekly

"The characters are fleshed out and the world is depicted in colorful brushstrokes. Epstein’s latest (after A Tip for the Hangman, 2021) will be a pleasure for readers who enjoy fiction set in tsarist Russia."


"A vividly imagined tapestry of turbulent times."


"Epstein’s prose is both spare and deliciously visual. Childhood words hang in the curtains, bones yearn for heat. I savored this novel, reading it slowly, despite or perhaps because of its deceptively simple surface."

Historical Novel Society

"Epstein (A Tip for the Hangman) imbues this alternate history with elements of fantasy and folklore to create a heady, transportive read. [...] Let the Dead Bury the Dead is a remarkable rendering of character and history that manages to feel both timeless as well as absolutely of its historical setting."

Shelf Awareness

"Sharp as a dagger and twice as glinting, Let the Dead Bury the Dead is a fierce tale of revolution, liberation, love, and the cruel seductress of fate—all draped in the delicate frost of a Russian fairy tale. Epstein has conjured a parable for the ages.”

GennaRose Nethercott, author of Thistlefoot

"Set against the backdrop of early nineteenth century Russia, Let the Dead Bury the Dead combines political intrigue and a touch of magic with a cast of characters you'll be rooting for until the very end. Epstein's atmospheric, compelling sophomore novel is not one historical fantasy fans will want to miss."

Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch's Heart

"A haunting portrait of an alternate 19th century Russia on the brink of revolution, Let the Dead Bury the Dead is dizzy with betrayal and intrigue, snowy owls and whispering winds. Epstein is a master of suspense and characterization, and her folktales are inspired."

Mary McMyne, author of The Book of Gothel

"Epstein weaves a sweeping love story set against the backdrop of a cleverly reimagined Imperial Russia, glittering, gritty, and pushed to the very edge of rebellion by a dark creature of legend, a delightfully powerful femme fatale that will seduce anyone who meets her—or destroy them."

Olesya Salnikova Gilmore, author of The Witch and the Tsar

"Allison Epstein pulls readers effortlessly into a world of tsars, revolutionaries, and ancient magic in this triumphant work of historical imagination. Woven from the threads of both the country's history and its haunting folklore, Let the Dead Bury the Dead is atmospheric and propulsively suspenseful, a brilliantly crafted alternate vision of a Russia on the edge of revolution. Readers will find themselves breathless."

Molly Greeley, author of Marvelous

A Tip for the Hangman
"A TIP FOR THE HANGMAN presents Marlowe as supremely capable, something of a trickster, a consummate liar, a fiendish lover — and someone capable of murder well before his own disputed demise[...] The suspense is palpable, as is the sense of doom, as Marlowe finds himself in thrall to a devil’s bargain and his own inner demons. Epstein breathes life into a celebrated figure, which makes his demise all the more abrupt and horrific."

The New York Times Book Review

"Epstein’s diverting debut gallivants through Elizabethan England...A fun escapade."

Publishers Weekly

“[T]hrilling and romantic[…] Epstein successfully evokes both the beauty and the brutality of 16th-century England.”

Historical Novel Society

"In Epstein’s fun, irreverent debut, [Christopher Marlowe] takes center stage in a spy thriller. The real Marlowe’s plays were incredibly popular in his time, due to his use of exciting plot twists and lots of murder. Epstein presents Marlowe’s story here as the playwright may have told it himself: full of adventure, fun . . . and murder."


"Allison Epstein pens a vivid, unforgettable hero in Kit Marlowe, Elizabethan playwright-turned-spy always sprinting one step ahead of disaster and talking a blue streak as he does so. Recruited by Elizabeth I's spymaster to infiltrate the cabal of Mary Queen of Scots, Kit finds his conscience tested to the limit even as his heart yearns for an unattainable beloved. A Tip for the Hangman is simultaneously moving, unsettling, hilarious, and tragic--a debut that will linger long after the last page is turned."

Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of THE ALICE NETWORK