cover image House of Hunger

House of Hunger

Alexis Henderson. Ace, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-43846-6

Breathlessly paced and dripping with gothic decadence, Henderson’s second novel (after The Year of the Witching) cements her status as one of horror’s best new voices. Marion Shaw toils away in the poor South of Prane, dreaming of escaping her miserable life of low pay and abuse for the North, where rich nobles from old money live in debauched elegance, drinking the blood of young women called bloodmaids to keep themselves healthy and preserve their youth. After Marion applies for one of these bloodmaid positions, she is whisked away to the service of Countess Lisavet of the notorious House of Hunger. There, Marion is pampered beyond her wildest dreams, but also drained of blood daily for the reclusive and chronically ill countess, who needs the supply of several bloodmaids to stay alive. Marion rises to become Lisavet’s favorite, and their bond deepens beyond servant and mistress. But Marion also grows close to her fellow bloodmaids, and when her new friends fall physically and mentally ill, Marion must risk her opulent new life and budding love with Lisavet to uncover the truth about the House of Hunger and the role of the bloodmaids. It’s a fascinating new spin on vampires that combines gory but gorgeous imagery and searing social commentary. This compulsively readable novel gives readers something to sink their teeth into. Agent: Jenny Bent, Bent Agency. (Sept.)