Thursday, 16 July 2009

Marked by PC Cast

What do you get when you cross Harry Potter with The Sookie Stackhouse Novels & Twilight? You get the House of Night Series from PC & Kristin Cast. There’s more to it than that but that’s the easiest way to boil it down for the uninitiated. The first book in the series, Marked, starts out in a typical high school. Zoey Montgomery is walking the halls with her best friend when she notices a vampyre at her locker. He points to her and tells her that Night has chosen her, her death will be her birth. Night calls to her and she must find her destiny which awaits her at the House of Night. Her head explodes in pain when he points to her and she passes out. When she awakens, she finds that she now bears the blue crescent mark that all fledgling vampyres wear.

Vampyres are clearly recognized in the real world in this series, they’re not hidden and in fact many of our top celebrities, including Nicole Kidman and Leonardo DiCaprio are known vamps. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the people in Zoey’s life are thrilled or accepting of her fate; her best friend cringes away from her and her mother and step father refuse to let her head to the House of Night, choosing instead to activate a prayer tree and call a psychiatrist. Zoey goes to the one person who always supports her, her grandmother, and while there she is overcome by fits of coughing. If a person is marked and fails to show up at the House of Night in a timely fashion, they will die. She falls and hits her head on a rock and meets up in her mind with the Goddess Nyx, Goddess of Night and goddess of the vampyres. Nyx tells her that she is special and that she has a great and important future ahead of her. Upon awakening, Zoey finds herself at the House of Night; her grandmother had taken her when she found her marked. Since she met with Nyx, though, Zoey’s mark has changed. Her mark is now filled in like a full-fledged vampyre’s instead of open like a fledgling.

This is where the Harry Potter comparison comes in; the House of Night is a school for fledgling vampyres. They go for 4 years and during that time learn about how to be a vampyre; for being marked does not necessarily mean one will achieve full vampyre status. Some of them reject the change and die; just not cut out for the life.

Zoey’s mark catches the eye of the High Priestess, Neferet, and she decides to become her mentor. Zoey has an inner voice, Nyx’s, warn her not to let anybody know what happened and why her mark is different from the other students. Zoey is taken to her dorm where she meets Stevie Ray, her roommate who quickly becomes her best friend. Through her, Zoey is introduced to Damian, Erin and Shaunee and they all become tight. Zoey quickly runs afoul of the queen of the school though, Aphrodite, leader of the Dark Daughters. Aphrodite is jealous of Zoey’s mark, her closeness with Neferet and her attraction to Erik Knight, Aphrodite’s ex.

Zoey decides that Aphrodite and her crew need to be taken down a peg and she and her new friends set out to do it. The majority of the rest of the book is about Zoey discovering and embracing her powers and her destiny as a future High Priestess.

I don’t want to spoil the whole book by giving away the big things, but I will say that there’s an interesting mix of vampyre lore, American Indian beliefs and witchcraft. It’s a fascinating mix that kept me interested. Blood lust for humans, the calling of the elements, purifying the soul; all of them come in to play. But that was not the only thing that I found appealing. The main theme running through all 5 books thus far seems to be one of acceptance. Zoey hates being different from the other fledglings but she finds people who genuinely like her for her, not for her potential power. Damian is gay. Erin and Shaunee are such best friends that they’re referred to as The Twins, despite the fact that one is black and one is white. For books written for the young adult genre, I think that’s a wonderful message to spread. I highly recommend the series for that alone. Plus it’s an easy read with some likable characters and a good storyline. Check it out and let me know what you think!


Hey Lady! said...

I totally agree about the acceptance, the other main thing I got out of it was the message of deep and loyal friendships. It's wonderful to think that in the short time Zoey knew her new friends, they were there for her no matter what and she for them.

The language is very much like a high schooler would speak (intentionally)some might find this annoying, some would find it more authentic. I thought it was sort of both, some of the slang annoyed me, but it wasn't anything I couldn't get past.

Some of the scenes of witchcraft did freak me out a little. Which is why I never read the second book. Sometimes I think of going back and reading it (just skipping the séances).
The book is fun and easy to read, which is great.

Nolebucgrl said...

Yes, I intend to talk more about the friendships in the later books, as they do get tested but ultimately come back together over time.

I agree, the writing is very uncomplicated and sometimes does tend to get too cutesy for it's own good. I imagine that is PC's daughter's contribution! But for the most part I look past it because it's entertaining.

The witchcraft isn't too scary, at least not the normal stuff. What Aphrodite pulls at the end of the book is somewhat upsetting but it's supposed to be since she's "bad". At least for now!

When I review the second one we'll see if it gets you more or less interested!

AG0418 said...

I enjoyed HON. And what I loved most about it was all of the supernatural, witchcraft, and seances. I thought the three combined made it some what unique. I think I said on Nole's site that I could do without all of the boyfriend drama. It was way over the top and by the last book, I was over Zoey's boy troubles. But, I too enjoyed the friendships and the other characters. That group was a lot of fun and I look forward to their upcoming adventures.

Nice summary nole!!

Nolebucgrl said...

Thanks AGO, nice to have you here! I agree, the boy thing got nuts and every time a new male character comes on I fully expect him to be in love with Zoey. I'm surprised that the warrior dude didn't have the hots for her! So I worry the next book will bring another dude. That would annoy me.

But beyond that, I really do enjoy the blend of vamp/witch/Native American thing that's going on. It all feels natural but it's very different from anything else that I read.

rameau said...

I just finished reading the book and I have to agree, it's an interesting mix of all things mentioned above. At this stage I am more or less over the vamp aspect of the books though the idea of a House of Night is intriguing.

Along with acceptance I found intriguing the fact that Zoey is essentially dancing on a tightrope over three different religions. There's the People of Faith her step-loser *excuse me* step-father represents, there are the beliefs of the Cherokee from her grandmother and then there are the beliefs of the vamps which are more or less wiccan. I usually try to avoid discussions, books etc. concerning any religion but this is a mix I find interesting. Interesting enough to continue reading.

Lady, the witchcraft in the book(s) thus far has been represented quite respectfully and responsibly even. I thought it was made known if not clear that the things Zoey feels with the elements are exceptional. I found a reliable source (as in that the offical Finnish wiccan site links to it) of information for you to look at. I skimmed through and it looks good.

Please don't be freaked, it's all about tolerance. ;)

Cool blog btw.

Hey Lady! said...

Spirituality and gods and goddesses are usually not my cup of tea in general when reading for fun. A little here and there, no problem, it's more of a personal taste, it wasn't offensive to me in anyway. Perhaps freaked out was too strong a statement... More like it was strange, and not in a way that intrigued me.