House of Hunger follows Marion Shaw. Marion has been raised in the slums of the South and her life is pretty bleak.
She works in domestic service for a grumpy old woman. Her parents are dead and she lives on the edge of poverty with her drug-addicted and abusive brother.
She does have a friend though, so that seems to be a highlight. She and this friend frequently get-together on their allotted break from work and read classified ads.
Basically, in their area, men will sometimes advertise when they are looking for a wife. It’s actually a way for some of these girls to climb out of poverty, if they find a man wealthy enough to take care of them.
So, Marion and her friend will sometimes read these ads and joke around about responding to one of them, and the odds of being selected.
On one occasion though, Marion actually sees something that piques her interest; an advert from the notorious House of Hunger, one of the richest houses in the North. It seems they’re in need of a bloodmaid.
Even though she’s practically clueless about life in the wealthy North, she applies for the position. How bad can it be? It certainly has to be better than the meager existence she currently has.
She applies and meets the Taster. A job interviewer of sorts, who tastes her blood and is blown away.
He offers her the position with confidence. The Lady of the House will go batshit-crazy over the delictableness of her blood. It’s a fine vintage, indeed.
The trip North and subsequent introduction to the House of Hunger and their ways is completely off the charts for Marion. It’s all new. She’s like a newborn baby, learning everything from scratch.
The castle is full of debauchery. The Lords and Ladies milling about live hedonistic lives. It’s an odd environment, with Marion and the other bloodmaids simply bearing witness to it all.
One scene, featuring a game called Fox and the Hounds literally gave me chills. These people are nuts. They have no repercussions for the things they do. They can get away with anything. It’s a real precarious position for Marion to be in, but honestly, what are her other options?
Marion discovers the bloodmaids have a bit of a competitive side to them. Apparently, Countess Lisavet, the enthralling Lady of the House, always has a favorite. Her go-to girl, who she’ll spoil with things the other girls don’t get.
As Lisavet begins to show a particular liking for Marion, the old favorite gets ticked. Marion definitely didn’t make a friend there. Additionally, as Marion gets drawn more and more into Lisavet’s inner sanctum, she begins to see that not all is as it appears in the House of Hunger.
This book was absolutely everything I wanted. I fell in love with Henderson’s writing and the vivid Horror imagery, including top-notch Body Horror, she was able to conjure up on the page.
There were some toe-curling scenes, anything involving teeth is gonna get me, soooo, I’m not okay. I was living for this atmosphere.
In fact, I was having so much fun that I gave daily status updates on the plot to my coworkers, and their eyes didn’t even glaze over. That’s how passionate I was about it.
I liked that Marion didn’t know anything about the North, or their customs. It offered up the perfect chance for the Reader to learn about the world through her eyes, without it seeming info dumpy.
I also enjoyed the mystery surrounding the House. As Marion begins to figure out that something is off and then the build-up to the final reveal of what was happening. I thought that was so well done.
Henderson built out the tension perfectly and kept me fully-engaged the entire way through. This narrative is vividly-described and I felt like I could picture everything perfectly. It was dark, gothic, gory and stunning. I loved it!!!
I cannot wait to read more from Henderson. Well done!