House of Hunger – by Alexis Henderson – Book Review


WANTED – Bloodmaid of exceptional taste. Must have a keen proclivity for life’s finer pleasures. Girls of weak will need not apply.

A young woman is drawn into the upper echelons of a society where blood is power, in this dark and enthralling gothic novel from the author of The Year of the Witching.

Marion Shaw has been raised in the slums, where want and deprivation is all she knows. Despite longing to leave the city and its miseries, she has no real hope of escape until the day she spots a peculiar listing in the newspaper, seeking a bloodmaid.

Though she knows little about the far north–where wealthy nobles live in luxury and drink the blood of those in their service–Marion applies to the position. In a matter of days, she finds herself the newest bloodmaid at the notorious House of Hunger. There, Marion is swept into a world of dark debauchery–and at the center of it all is her.

Countess Lisavet, who presides over this hedonistic court, is loved and feared in equal measure. She takes a special interest in Marion. Lisavet is magnetic, and Marion is eager to please her new mistress. But when her fellow bloodmaids begin to go missing in the night, Marion is thrust into a vicious game of cat and mouse. She’ll need to learn the rules of her new home–and fast–or its halls will soon become her grave.

Dark bleetings, kids! I have been up to my eyeballs in projects recently, but I had to say a quick word about House of Hunger, a book I plucked off my shelf at random when I had a rare few hours to read. I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t that I expected it to be bad or anything, as I very much enjoyed Henderson’s previous novel, The Year of the Witching. It’s just that I didn’t expect it to be so good. I couldn’t put it down and was sad when I finished it. It took me ages to decide what to read right after it because I was afraid that nothing else would measure up.

Marion’s life completely changes when she is offered a mysterious and weird new job. It has all the trappings of a ‘rags to riches’ story, only the cost of being elevated in society in this story is potentially very high. And of course, as in all the very best horror, things are not what they seem (and things already seem really weird).

There’s an element of wish fulfillment that I related to, almost to an embarassing degree. Don’t get me wrong, I feel fortunate for everything I have in life, but I totally understand the appeal of being plucked out of what’s ordinary and just being handed luxury on a silver platter. Despite the fact that Marion’s one obligation is weird and icky, I found myself wondering if I’d just go ahead and suck it up too, considering the benefits.

The suspense and horror builds slowly but steadily and pays off in a big way towards the end when the author takes us out of the questioning phase of being nervous and shows us what we were scared of all along, without knowing it. I’ve seen other reviews criticising the pacing but I guess that’s subjective because I thought it was perfect and I flew through the book. I couldn’t bear to stop reading and when I absolutely had to, I was in a rush to get back.

I’d recommend this to fans of period drama/horror, mysteries, supernatural, and fans of character driven story-telling.

If you’d like to order your own copy or check out the author, the links you need are below:



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