House of Night Novel #1
by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Read July 2009
When reading the first chapter of this book I was intrigued, but confused. Zoey is at school talking at her friend at her locker and a member of the ‘undead’ is just standing there and “marks” her with a half-moon crescent on her forehead. This mark apparently means she will now turn into a vampyre (yes, with a ‘Y’). Her friend seems upset, but not in the “holy crap and vampire was just next to us at our school” kind of way. It’s more of a “uh-oh not you…that sucks” kind of way.
So I had to flip the book over and make sure I hadn’t missed part one of the series. To make sure I wasn’t missing something crucial. Then I read the book description and Zoey and her friends are “living in a world much like our own, only where vampyres have always existed.” Ahhhhh now I get it.
I would have liked a little more explaination in the first chapter…or even the second. I love a little intrigue to pull you in, but in my opinion it took a bit too long to figure out what the heck was going on. Hopefully if you read my review, you won’t be as lost as I was. I’m going to try to explain without giving too much away.
After the vampyre tracker marks Zoey with the mark, a crescent shape tattoo-like on her forehead. As a vampyre matures into adulthood, the mark darkens and glows. Once a fledgling vampyre is marked, they must go to the House of Night, a school for vampyres, or they will undoubtedly die, and not in the “becoming one of the undead kind of way”. They must leave their past lives behind. There is no being bitten and turning into a vampyre, you are sought out and marked. Scientists in Zoey’s world have researched and found that a DNA change occurs in some children in some teenagers as hormone levels rise and bring on the change.
Before she makes it to The House of Night Zoey tries to go to see her Grandmother Redbird. While she is there she has a supernatural experience where she is visited by the Goddess Nyx. Nyx is known by many names, Gaia being the one that stood out for me. Zoey is of Native American heritage and this is tied into the whole vampyre legend and mystique. The Goddess Nyx gives her a message that seems both a blessing and a curse. She will have a very important role to play as a vampyre.
Her Grandmother finds her and takes her to The House of Night, which is unlike anything she expected. Zoey finds that like a regular high school, there are the popular, snotty cliques, and the more seemingly normal, if that can exist in a group of vampyre students.
I do like that Zoey stands up to the bully for not only herself but her friends as well. I also like the twist on the Vampire legend. I like the tie-ins to Native American culture. I like the mark of the vampyre appearing as a tattoo that matures with you. I thought the idea that vampyres were not legends or myths as in our society, but as I said before, it was confusing at first. I didn’t like how, in this world similar yet so different to our own, some things were a bit too alike. If society is supposed to be so different, then why are famous modern-day actors vampyres? A lot of current social references. Wouldn’t vampyres living amongst us as reality change how our society turned out? Just makes the whole thing a little confusing. I thought some of the language was unnecessary. I also thought there was a bit of overcompensation by the authors to make a point to say that Zoey, our heroine, thinks that all these things that are wrong, i.e. oral sex, drugs, teenage drinking, public displays of affection, and announces it often. It was kind of like “Okay we want to say teenagers having oral sex is bad, but we are going to put it in the book and make the person doing it evil.” One other thing I felt was interesting was the “Friends of Faith” church group. It seemed that everyone who was an inkling of religious was part of this group which was made out to look like a patriarchal cult.
I saw someone, somewhere say this book was Harry Potter meets Twilight. I think I’d have to agree, but you have to throw in some bad language and naughtiness. Overall it was a decent read. I will most likely read the next in the series, but I am not in a rush to go out and buy it tomorrow. One last thing, I found it interesting that this book was written by a mother/daughter team. Hehehe ‘Hey mom, lets add some oral sex and swear words!’ ‘Okay sounds great, and how about we kill some people off while we are at it!’
Themes: Strong Language, sexual scenes, homosexuality, a high importance placed on wiccan/neo-pagan rituals, bullying in school, homophobia, vampirism, death
Genre: Horror/Sci-fi/Fantasy- Listed as teen/young adult….but I would definitely classify this for mature audiences only.
Setting: Of all places…Oklahoma…go figure. In a modern day world like our own, but where vampyres are living in society with humans.
Topic: Zoey, a troubled 16 year-old, is marked by a vampyre tracker and must drop her human life and go to the House of Night, or suffer the consequences, certain death. She must attend and learn vampyre customs and traditions at her new school. But, no school is complete, vampyre or not, without cliques, bullies and social awkwardness.