The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound like they may be interesting—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included, along with series information and the publisher’s book description. Cover images are affiliate links to Bookshop, and I earn from qualifying purchases.

This is a week late since I was waiting for an issue with text formatting on the site to be resolved to post anything (and although it was fixed before then, it took forever to catch up and switch over to that version). Sorry about that if you ran into it, but that should be all set now!

Today’s featured book is one I’m very excited about—another one from my 30 Anticipated 2022 Speculative Fiction Releases list! Also, a new review went up a couple of days ago. Here’s the link in case you missed it:

  • Review of Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel — Although I preferred the first half or so to the second, this Ramayana retelling is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year with pretty writing that drew me in immediately and a compassionate yet imperfect protagonist.

On to the latest book on the TBR!

Book Cover of House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

Alexis Henderson’s second novel, a Gothic horror story with inspiration from the legend of Countess Elizabeth Báthory, will be released on September 27 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

I’ve been looking forward to reading more by Alexis Henderson since reading her Goodreads Choice Award–nominated debut, the Gothic horror novel The Year of the Witching. It was a book that kept me turning the pages when I’d been having difficulty concentrating on reading in 2020. Here’s a couple of snippets from my review:

Terror is twofold in The Year of the Witching, Alexis Henderson’s dark fantasy/Gothic horror debut novel, with its story involving mysterious witch spirits as well as the everyday atrocities that occur in a patriarchal puritanical society—the latter of which is magnified for protagonist Immanuelle Moore, a biracial sixteen year old followed by her mother’s sins and connection to the witchy woods.

[Immanuelle is] one of the types of characters I enjoy reading about: one who grows and ends up in a different place from where she started, one brimming with determination and the desire to do what’s right, one who is loyal to those she cares about and generally compassionate yet has a sharp edge. The choices she made at the end said a lot about her as a person, and I loved that despite having a different outlook in the final chapters, she still seemed like the same character from the beginning—just one whose experiences had pulled a deeper part of herself from the shadows into the light.

(And if you missed it in 2021, Alexis Henderson wrote about her kinship with horror in her guest post for Women in SF&F Month, “Writing Dark Fiction: An Exercise in Self-Acceptance.”)


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 are all she know. 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. At the center of it all is Countess Lisavet.

The countess, 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 she discovers that the ancient walls of the House of Hunger hide even older secrets, 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.