House of Night by P.C. & Kristen Cast

March 9, 2010
JK Rowling sent her kids to a school for wizards and witches, and it captivated audiences throughout the world. When somebody mentions the name “Harry Potter”, it conjures up images of nerds with bad acne adorned in wizard garb standing in line at Borders for hours upon end, holding their breath in anticipation of the coming midnight hour. The unusual phenomena took the nation by storm for the majority of the past ten years. Who would have thought that teenagers would actually want to read?


As quickly as it came, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight replaced it. Child wizards were thrown out in favor of romantic vampires and werewolves, and teens the world over ate it up like it was bloody candy.


“House of Night”, a series of young adult novels by PC and Kristen Cast, may very well be morphing into the next big thing. This mother-daughter duo set out to combine the two worlds, mincing together the idea of a supernatural academy and hormonal teenagers. The first novel in the series, “Marked”, takes place in a world not too unlike our own, with one exception: vampires are totally normal and yearning for acceptance by a society that has ostracized them for several thousand years. The vampires have foregone the forceful extraction of blood from human beings in favor of a system of blood banks in order to make themselves more “presentable” and “tame”. They have also deemed it necessary to change the process of changing humans into vampires, opting for a less violent approach of “marking” new fledglings.


Zoey Redbird is marked one day after school and her fanatical parents disown her. She runs away to the House of Night, a school for vampire fledglings, where she finds a home and something that is like the family she may as well have never had.


This novel and the subsequent sequels grew on me- but I’m still not sure if it was like a flower or a fungus. To say it would be on par with the Harry Potter novels would be an insult to Potter fans, and to say it was on the level of Twilight would be an insult to House of Night fans. Zoey and her band of misfit friends are much more interesting than the vapid Bella Swan, but only slightly so.


In fact, Zoey’s friends are what truly makes the series even remotely compelling. I found myself reading primarily because I was interested in the plight of her friends and not Zoey. Stevie Ray, Zoey’s token eccentric roommate, is a charming Southern gal with a crush on Kenney Chesney, and possibly the best part of the whole series. One could tell that the authors actually cared about making Stevie Ray likeable, which makes what happens to her about halfway through the novel all the more shocking and heartfelt. Zoey has a menagerie of other fledgling pals, including a pair of sassy twins and an uppity savant. Zoey’s ”popular nemesis turned somewhat ally” Aphrodite has quips that are comparable to that of Regina George in Mean Girls. In fact, given the way they depicted the other students of the House of Night, it’s a wonder that the authors even bothered with somebody as shallow as Zoey- and therein lies the main problem with “Marked”.


I did not like Zoey, at all. There is almost no redeemable quality to her entire character. The novel, which might otherwise be close to good, is totally marred by her narration. She has an incredibly immature attitude towards everything from love to death. She manages to get herself in the predicament of having three boyfriends- a fellow fledgling, her human ex-boyfriend, and a student teacher. The way she responds to this is worrying: she essentially has no moral scruples about playing with their emotions beyond the occasional “Whoopsie!” or, “I should decide who I want to be with, but eh, maybe later.” Also, the student teacher relationship is just plain gross. I don’t care how attractive he is, Zoey should have known he was way out of bounds. If this is the attitude the authors are promoting to the type of impressionable people who would read these books, there is something seriously wrong with them.


The writing style is very juvenile, and doesn’t go into much detail. Although Zoey is certainly perceptive to the people, places, and events around her, she is more concerned with telling us how she applied extra eyeliner or put on her totally cute new miniskirt, ohmygawd (her words, not mine). The one thing I did find interesting, however, was the fact that the love scenes were the most well written parts of the novel- so well written that they border on voyeuristic. It is quite obvious that -like the cast of background characters- the authors truly cared about having this stand out as an integral part of the story.


House of Night takes an interesting concept and compelling cast of characters and nearly ruins it all by depicting its world through the lens of a self-absorbed brat. But, again, these novels did grow on me simply because of the characters and interesting plotline. If you have time to spare, and don’t take your fiction seriously, these books are recommended. Just be sure to have something nearby to take your rage out on when Zoey gets annoying.





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