*EXTENSIVE REVIEW* ~ House of Night #1: Marked ~ Intro & Chapters 1-5

The House of Night series by P.C. & Kristin Cast. I know the for a lot of people, the first thing that springs to mind when they hear those words is a not very positive response. Just head right over to Goodreads and you will find that many, if not most of the reviews will have given the books either one or two stars, along with a very harsh and blunt review on many of the negative aspects that people have found in this series. 

I know that I am probably not alone in the fact that I on the other hand absolutely adore this series, but sometimes it can feel that way. I have found so much joy and beauty in reading these books, and hopefully these review will be a way for people to understand why and show people that if you look carefully and dig a bit deeper you can see the well thought-out and carefully crafted details that make these books worthwhile. 


WARNING: There will be SPOILERS!!! I will might include spoilers from books further on in the series (for things like foreshadowing). 


Color Coding 

Foreshadowing              
Quotes
My Ultimate Favorite Quotes            
Relationships                 
Romance                        
Character Development
Character Traits


MARKED


Goodreads Link


Published: May 1st, 2007


Page Count: 306


“After a Vampire Tracker Marks her with a crescent moon on her forehead, 16-year-old Zoey Redbird enters the House of Night and learns that she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked by the vampyre Goddess Nyx and has affinities for all five elements: Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit. But she is no the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny – and with a little help from her new vampyre friends.”





The Title

Zoey getting Marked is what essentially triggers everything in this series. It is a starting point for Zoey’s new life, a turning point for the events that will go down in the history of the vampyres as well as a spark that will later fuel a raging war between good and evil. The title speaks not only of Zoey’s outward Mark but also of internal changes going on within her, showing the favor of the Goddess Nyx.

~

The book opens up with a slightly modified version of an extract from The Theogony of Hesiod:

“There also stands the gloomy House of Night;
ghastly clouds shroud it in darkness.
Before it Atlas stands erect and on his head
and unwearying arms firmly support the broad sky,
where Night and Day cross a bronze threshold
and then come close and greet each other.”

One of the things that instantly stands out, even if one hasn’t read the later books, is that ‘Night’ and ‘Day’ are written capitalised. While this might at first glance be easily brushed off, if you get into the later books, the personifications of ‘night and day’, ‘black and white’ and ‘good and evil’ become a huge part of the vampyre world, showing the constant battle and balance between these two entities as well as the consequences and sacrifice of calling upon them. This is already some majorly subtle foreshadowing (Notice how I subtly associated black with good?). To add onto that, the Goddess Nyx is the personification of Night, which is also an obvious reason as to why Night is an important term in all of the books.

~

Zoey Montgomery, a sixteen year old high school student, who just wants to have a semi-normal life gets Marked within the very few pages of the book and this all happens fairly quickly. She observes a full grown vampyre standing by her locker which instantly catches her attention because of course, she knows the nature of what he is. The truth about vampyres in P.C. and Kristin Cast’s America is not kept a secret. Everyone knows about them, yet they are far from accepted. Vampyres are seen as ‘dead’, as having an illness or ‘the plague’. They are scrutinized by scientists and most people try to stay out of their way. They are feared, mystical creatures and most people don’t know how to deal with them.

“Scientists said one thing, people said another, but the end result was the same. There was no mistaking what he was and even if I hadn’t felt the power and darkness that radiated from him, there was no frickin’ way I could miss his Mark…” (p. 2-3)

Although we haven’t observed this power in action as we will later on in the book, it is clear that a vampyre’s power is a big part of their nature as the obvious sign that distinguish them from mere humans: their sapphire crescent Mark on their forehead.

We learn through Zoey’s perspective that this vampyre who has come to her school is a Tracker, a vampyre whose job it is to Mark young adolescents. They are distinguishable from regular vampyres by their labyrinth-shaped additional tattoos on the palm of their hand.
Zoey instantly gets worried, since she knows that were she to get Marked she would never be fully accepted back into human society again. She would have to completely segregate herself from it and turn to a new life. 
The vampyre is indeed there to Mark her, and he speaks these ominous words before doing so:

“Zoey Montgomery! Night has chosen thee; thy death will be thy birth. Night calls to thee; hearken to Her sweet voice. Your destiny awaits you at the House of Night!” (p. 3)

We can see that these words mostly speak of a spiritual rebirth, slightly mirroring the Christian belief of a spiritual rebirth. The ‘Night calls to thee’ aspect refers to the Goddess Nyx calling her children onto the path she has chosen for them. 

This is also the turning point in Zoey’s relationship to her current best friend Kayla. Kayla’s attitude instantly changes to one of horror and revulsion as she shows disgust at Zoey’s new Mark. She cringes and backs away, scared of touching Zoey, scampering home as quickly as possible, which in turn makes Zoey feel as if she had been slapped.

Zoey has some inaccurate notions of the way of the House of Night vampyres and she worries that she is now doomed to a life of wearing black and never being cheerful again. She does, however try to look at the positive sides of this entire Mark-business and manages to perfectly sum up how her life is going to look life from now on.

“So the good news is that I wouldn’t have to take the geometry test tomorrow.
The bad news was that I’d have to move into the House of Night, a private boarding school in Tulsa’s Midtown, known by all my friends as the Vampyre Finishing School, where I would spend the next four years going through bizarre and unnameable physical changes, as well as a total and permanent life shake-up. And that’s only if the whole process didn’t kill me” (p. 6)

Which she means literally. It is a well known fact to everyone that at any time during these four years of being a fledgling her body could end up rejecting the Change, and she would die. This just shows that this is something to be taken very seriously, and there is no turning back for her now.


Moments after being Marked, she rushes to the bathroom to look at her forehead. This is another turning point for Zoey, since the Change has already begun to affect her in a magickal way.
Being of the Indian Cherokee descent, we can also clearly see that her heritage will later on also have a major part to play and is also foreshadowing some cool things to come!
Now this is where one of my favorite quotes in the entire series comes into play. Despite being terrified and scared, something inside of Zoey is reaching out and embracing this new life, and the magick that is filling her veins. 

Things have changed in her family since her mom remarried John Heffer. Being an ultra-conservative elder of the People of Faith, he completely changed Linda and the way she was as a mother and person. Whilst before she was compassionate, liberal and happy she is now not the mother that Zoey needs, throwing away make-up, her old friends and romance novels for a comfortable and safe life at home with her new ‘perfect’ husband. Or, not so perfect as we will see. 


Lesson #1: Seems you can’t and shouldn’t try and run away from your destiny. 


“It was life staring into the face of a familiar stranger. You know, that person you see in a crowd and swear you know, but you really don’t? Now she was me – the familiar stranger.(p. 8)

At this point in time, Zoey ultimately realizes that the course of her life – and fate – has began to change, and that she has already started becoming a different person. 

“I stared at the exotic-looking tattoo. Mixed with my strong Cherokee features it seemed to brand me with a mark of wildness…as if I belonged to ancient times when the world was bigger…” (p. 8)


“And for a moment – just an instant – I forgot about the horror of not belonging and felt a shocking burst of pleasure, while deep inside of me the blood of my grandmother’s people rejoiced.” (p. 9)

~

Zoey proceeds outside, determined to rush into her car before anyone notices her, when suddenly Heath – Zoey’s (ex)boyfriend – appears. 

Heath and Zoey had been together since they were quite young – dating since their early teens. However, Zoey has had issues with Heath’s excessive drinking, and has pretty much broken up with him. 


Despite Heath being slightly taken aback by Zoey’s fledgling Mark, he does not cringe or try to move away from her. Instead, he tells Zoey that he still wants to be with her and that he loves her. We can definitely see that Heath is not as easily scared away from Zoey as others have been (like Heath’s friends – Drew and Dustin) and that he might still have a part to play later on – we’ll have to see 😉 

As well as the Mark, Zoey begins to notice some internal changes about her as well. She begins to feel some kind of great power whilst angry, a tingling sensation spreading across her Mark. It is obvious that something supernatural is already beginning t happen within Zoey, although it has only been a few moments ago that she has been Marked.
Not only that, but after Heath accidentally cuts himself, Zoey begins to smell something extremely strange but attractive – Heath’s blood. It mystifies Zoey and she can’t stop staring and moving closer to him, entranced. 
Something is definitely up with Zoey, something divine. 

Kinda worried, Zoey travels home to her mother. 


Zoey desperately wants her real mother back, and she tries to touch that part within Linda as she tries to face her about becoming a fledgling. 

“I used the name I used to call her, back in the days before she married John…I don’t know whether it was the unexpected use of “Mama” or if something in my voice touched an old part of mom-intuition she still had somewhere inside her, but the eyes she lifted immediately from the book were soft and filled with concern.” (p. 17)

There is definitely still a part of the old-mom in there, who unfortunately disappears as soon as she takes in Zoey’s Mark. It completely changes her attitude and she goes and calls John for help, trying to be a ‘good’ submissive wife. 

Later John comes home, and he decides to call a therapist and activate their church prayer tree, in order to ‘pray away the disease’. They both ignore Zoey’s attempts to explain to them that she has to be taken to a House of Night immediately. If Zoey does not come within contact with full adult vampyres soon, her body would begin rejecting the Change – triggering an imminent painful death. Zoey has gotten to a verge of breaking – she can’t stand being in a family who won’t listen to her, she has had enough.

“They call that vampyre school the House of Night, but it can’t be any darker than this perfect home!” (p. 19)


Ultimately, Zoey does not let herself get broken by the bigoted way that her father is reacting to her Mark. Instead, Zoey shows her sassy side and tells the readers what thinks about John throwing God in Zoey’s face about this.

“I would bet my cool new Steve Madden flats that it irritated God as much as it annoyed me.” (p. 23)


The ‘People of Faith’ that P.C. & Kristin have created for this series is a religious sect made up of all the worst traits of all the religions in the world; be it homophobia, sexism, racism, bigotedness and just general intolerance and superiority, which to me – me being a Christian myself – should have no place in any religion whatsoever. And so I full-heartedly stand behind Zoey’s comment, which makes me laugh quite a bit. 


Moreover, Zoey, who probably in the family has the least experience with religion is more able to distinguish good from bad and has more of a spiritual intuition than her elder stepfather or her mother. 


With her Mark, Zoey has soon become The Problem of the family. A minor bump in their wide and sunny road of a perfect suburban family life. Linda is standing next to John putting on the Hurt Hysterical Mother that she does so well, according to Zoey. They do not in the least care about what this is doing to Zoey, just how this is going to affect how the people from their ‘church’ will see their family now.

Whilst in the middle of discussions with her family, one can definitely see that a tiny, tiny spark of Linda’s older self comes out of her and that she is in the middle of an internal battle, struggling between being the wife her husband wants her to be and being the mom that her daughter needs her to be. 

“…telling me she was sorry the only way she could, with her eyes.” (p. 25)

The Casts are definitely not done with Linda – and we will definitely see more of her in the future. 

This anger and this resentment that Zoey has towards her stepfather as well as the cold version of her mother manages to push Zoey over the edge and she decides to run away to her grandmother’s lavender farm, where she can finally confine in someone who will help her.

“She was the one person in the world who I was positive wouldn’t look at my Mark and think I was a monster or a freak or a really awful person.” (p. 29)

Zoey knows that by doing running away she will permanently be separating herself from her family and her old life and the hate and sadness that has come between her and them will make the transition easier for her. 

“I’m going to remember this. I’m going to remember how awful they made me feel today. So when I’m scared and alone and whatever else is going to happen to me starts to happen, I’m going to remember that nothing could be as bad as being stuck here. Nothing.” (p. 26)

When she arrives at her grandmother’s house later, she proceeds to climb the bluffs in order to get to her grandmother who is out working and has left a note behind. Whilst walking, she begins to hear some sort of ceremonial drumming as well as the voices of Cherokee spirits who are calling Zoey to them. 

“Join us u-we-tsi-a-ge-ya…Join us daughter.” (p. 35)

Afraid of the unknown, Zoey tries to escape these voices, falls down and blacks out after hitting her head. For a few minutes, Zoey has an out-of-body experience where she follows a distinct voice calling out to her. 

At last she emerges at the end of an underground cave where she has her first encounter with the vampyre Goddess Nyx. Not only is she radiantly beautiful but also kind, warm and caring. 
There is also a reason why Nyx has called Zoey to talk to her in the spirit realm – she has a very important message for Zoey. 

“I have Marked you as my own. You will be my first true u-we-tsi-a-ge-ya v-hna-i Sv-no-yi…Daughter of Night…in this age. You are special. Accept that about yourself, and you will begin to understand there is true power in your uniqueness. Within you is combined the magic blood of ancient Wise Women and Elders, as well as insight into and understanding of the modern world.” (p. 40)

She also instructs Zoey to be her ‘eyes and ears’ in these troubled times. 

Then, before Zoey wakes up, Nyx speaks one of the most important quotes in the entire House of Night series. It is basically what the entire plot and world is built up upon, even if we can’t fully understand what is meant by this yet. 

“But remember, darkness does not always equate to evil, just as light does not always bring good.” (p. 41)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s