Publisher: Ace Books
Page Count: 304
Release Date: September 27th, 2022
Rating: 3/5 Stars – Liked It
Marion Shaw is barely surviving in the slums of Prane, and would give anything for a way out of the city to a better life. So when an advertisement appears seeking to hire a bloodmaid, she jumps at the chance. She’ll live a life of comfort at an isolated manor in the north for the low price of regularly giving her blood to help treat her mistress’s deadly disease. But as the weeks go by and Marion gets to know the other blood maids and residents, she begins to feel that something is amiss in the House of Hunger.
HOUSE OF HUNGER is an absorbing read that doesn’t quite take advantage of the premise it has. And let’s be honest, it’s a fantastic premise. A young woman in a strange, isolated house, bound by contract to follow the rules of the House of Hunger and to give her blood without question? It’s a great starting point, and I ripped through the pages to see where it would go. The book moves at a brisk pace, and I consumed its 300 pages in under 24 hours, which is not something I do often these days.
Marion herself is a fairly compelling lead, wracked with guilt about her past while also determined to make her life better. She doesn’t question when things fall to her advantage, even if it costs others, though I found myself wishing she were a little more conniving and a little less trusting. Still, her curiosity drives the story forward and keeps things moving.
In the end, however, I thought the book was lacking in some of the tension the premise offered. There’s certainly a growing sense of foreboding as Marion begins to notice certain details or omissions about the house’s history. But I rarely felt that Marion herself was in any danger. After detailing out a list of rules and warning of the strict punishments that would come if she broke them, Marion seems to go about her life without concern, never suffering consequences (or watching any fellow bloodmaids suffer consequences). She and her new mistress, the Countess Lisavet, speak to each other like equals, and the Countess rarely seems like a person who holds Marion’s fate in her hands.
HOUSE OF HUNGER does deliver on a solid horror finale, however, and overall I enjoyed my time with the book. It’s a quick standalone thriller perfect for a weekend read. Although I wish it had been a little spookier, HOUSE OF HUNGER is here to walk the line of mundane horror and supernatural, to have you questioning what’s really going on. If you’re looking for a safe thrill, HOUSE OF HUNGER might be what you need.
Note: I was provided a free ARC by the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.