*EXTENSIVE REVIEW* ~ House of Night #1: Marked ~ Chapters 5-10

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


~

Zoey awakens at the House of Night fully rested and recovered. Her grandma, who was singing to her upon her awakening, explains that she drove her to the House of Night when she found Zoey unconscious in her field. She also doesn’t show any surprise to Zoey being Marked and even explains that she has been expecting it. 

“The Redbird blood has always held strong magic; it was only a matter of time before one of us was Chosen.” (p. 45)

Zoey then gets the biggest shock of her life when her grandma tells her that not only does she now have a fledgling Mark on her forehead, it is also fully filled in, just like the ones Changed adult vampyres have. 

“It was the Mark that I couldn’t quit staring at, the Mark that was now a completed crescent moon, filled in perfectly with the distinctive sapphire blue of the vampyre tattoo. Feeling like I was still moving through a dream, I reached up and let my fingers trace the exotic-looking Mark and I seemed to feel the Goddess’s lips against my skin again.” (p.45)

I think that for Zoey, seeing this beautiful filled-in Mark is a surreal experience and one of the moments where she fully realizes just what has come to pass between Nyx and her. Although Nyx is presenting herself physically at the moment I think this moment is a special spiritual moment that Zoey feels with Nyx, a connection. 

We then get our first glimpse of Neferet, who will later on become one of the most prominent and powerful characters in this series. Zoey is completely stumped into silence by her beauty and her powerful stature and we see that she instantly feels intimidated by her presence. 


“Her voice was amazing. Even before I looked up from my reflection I knew she would be unique and incredible. […] I’d never seen anyone up close who was so perfect. She had huge, almond-shaped eyes that were a deep, mossy green. […] Her hair was deep-red […] a dark, glossy auburn that fell in heavy waves past her shoulders.” (p. 46)


She is, after all, the first adult vampyre that Zoey has ever seen in real life. As the High Priestess of the Tulsa House of Night, Neferet is in the most powerful position that a vampyre can have at a school and pretty much decides what goes on. Neferet goes on to officially introduce Zoey to the school and explains that she has been taking care of her while she has been asleep. 


Zoey then learns that because she now has to leave her old life behind as she progresses further into her Change, she has the opportunity to give herself a new name as she begins anew in her new life.


“One benefit of beginning a new life is that you have the opportunity to start over – to make choices you weren’t given before. If you could choose what would your true name be?”
I didn’t hesitate. “Zoey Redbird.” (p. 47)

Zoey doesn’t even take a second to think about what she would want her name to be. From the few interactions we have seen with Zoey and her parents, we definitely saw that she hasn’t really felt like a part of her family for a long time and I feel like this moment where Zoey takes upon herself the name of her grandmother, with whom she has always felt close to, is an outward statement of a decision that she had already made a long time ago. She wants to start over, with a new life and a new family.

Neferet then inquires Zoey as to what had happened that led to the events of Zoey getting her Mark filled in. Zoey is about to answer when suddenly she gets a strong sense – an otherworldly feeling – that she should keep her conversation with Nyx to herself. Thus, she tells Neferet what happened, leaving out her encounter with the Goddess.

“But right before I said the words I got a weird feeling, like someone had just hit me in my stomach. It was clear and it was specific, and it was telling me to shut up.” (p. 48)

Nevertheless, Zoey herself feels very drawn to Neferet’s warmth and motherly love. This feeling only increases when Neferet herself pledges an oath to Sylvia that she will protect Zoey.

“Sylvia Redbird, I give you my solemn oath that your granddaughter is safe here.” (p. 49)

We will later see that this oath will have a minor part to play (especially in Redeemed). 

~

Neferet is the one who escorts Zoey around the House of Night in order to get her settled in. During their talk, Zoey learns some particularly interesting and surprising things about vampyres: adult vampyres always know what time it is, cats are free to roam the campus as they please and have the ability to choose a fledgling or vampyre, which bonds them together for life, and that Nyx sometimes gifts vampyres with special powers. 
Zoey also gets a quick glimpse of some lingering pain behind Neferet’s expression as they speak about family, and she comes to realize that maybe Neferet has had some difficulty with her own family in the past. 

“I looked up from the cat to meet her green eyes and saw that she understood a lot more about freaky family issues than she was saying.” (p. 52)

Zoey also finds out that Neferet, being the High Priestess, has two gifts from Nyx: the power of healing and an affinity for cats. Zoey also gets to meet Skylar, Neferet’s cat (he will have a minor role to play in the later books). 

Neferet seems to be very surprised by the fact that Zoey’s Mark has been completely filled in and seems to be unsure what these turn of events have to bring but reassures Zoey that it can only mean something good as it shows a favor from the Goddess.


“Neferet’s eyes found the darkened Mark on my forehead. “Nyx has chosen you. For what, we do now know. But her Mark has been clearly placed upon you. She would not have touched you only to see you fail.” (p. 55)

As Neferet has to quickly rush off, she leaves Zoey alone in the hallway, with instruction on where she should go.
As Zoey pushes on she hears noises coming from a hallway off to right and decides to pursue where they come from. This key moment in Marked – the moment where Zoey first encounters Aphrodite and Erik for the first time. The two of them are hidden away in a dark alcove in a very compromising situation. Zoey can both see and hear that Aphrodite is in the process of trying to perform oral sex on Erik while he is pushing her away, repeating that he does not want this.

“She was on her knees in front of him. All I could see of her was her blond hair. There was so much of it that it looked like she was wearing it as some kind of ancient veil.” (p. 57)

Zoey notices how annoying Aphrodite sounds as she tries to convince Erik that he actually wants this to happen. 

“Her voice was all husky and trying to be sexy, but I could almost hear a whine in it. She sounded almost desperate.” (p.58)

Zoey is then completely taken aback as Aphrodite proceeds to cut Erik’s leg with her fingernail, licking off the blood. The surprise then changes into something more magnetic and powerful as Zoey becomes completely fascinated and focused by the appearance of Erik’s blood. 

“I couldn’t look away from him. The girl in front of him seemed to disappear, and all there was in the hallway was him and me and the sweet, beautiful smell of his blood.” (p.59)

Erik suddenly notices Zoey there and tries to push off Aphrodite, but Zoey, terrified, runs as quickly as humanly (or should I say fledgingly)  possible down the corridor and to the bench where Neferet told her to wait. When the High Priestess finally arrives, Zoey acts as though nothing shocking had just happened and they both continue on. though the events that had just come to pass are still churning in her head. 

As they come into the courtyard of the school, Zoey sees Nyx’s temple for the first time, which is lying a bit further away from the school, and immediately recognizes Nyx’s statue. She also gets her first good look at the expanse of the school itself and admires the vast structure, commenting that it looks more like a castle than a school.

Zoey also goes on and explains to the readers that vampyres make up a large percentage of famous artists, such as musicians or actors, making them extremely rich and powerful. Another comment about the People of Faith is dropped, showing both their hypocrisy and shallow thinking, as well as their jealousy of being overpowered by a race that they are afraid of and think are living a sinful lifestyle. 

“The People of Faith would go see their movies, plays concerts, buy their books and their art, but at the same time they’d talk about them and look down on them, and God knows they’d never, ever mix with them. Hello – can you say hypocrites?” (p. 63)

As Zoey and Neferet continue through a courtyard, Zoey realizes that maybe she had misjudged her idea of vampyres. She comments on their interesting uniform which seem to have different designs embroidered on the front and the fact that almost everyone there has long hair (which is due to increased hair growth brought upon by the Change).
Even more noticeable are the looks that people are giving Zoey, presumably because of her already filled-in Mark, which makes her extremely uncomfortable. All she wanted was to start a new life, a normal life and it seems that this is a lost cause as well.

“So I was beginning my new life as an anomaly which figured about as much as it sucked.” (p.64)

~


Neferet guides Zoey over to the dorms, where she is to meet her new roommate. However, just as they come in, a short blonde girl jumps up and offers to take Zoey to her room. With a jolt, Zoey realizes that this is in fact the same girl she saw with Erik just moments before – Aphrodite. The moment she recognises her, she also sees how fake Aphrodite’s friendliness is. Not only that, but there seems to be something strange going on between Neferet and her.



“Neferet hesitated, which felt really odd. Instead of answering right away she just stood there and locked eyes with Aphrodite. Then, just as quickly as the silent stare-down had started, Neferet’s face broke into a wide smile.” (p. 67)

“Was that anger I saw flash through Aphrodite’s eyes? No, I must have imagined it – or at least I would have believed I’d imagined it if that weird gut feeling of mine hadn’t told me otherwise.” (p. 67)

As Aphrodite escorts Zoey then to her dorm room she turns off her act and shows Zoey her true feelings.

“Her perfect face suddenly looked hateful and cold and definitely not so pretty.
‘Okay, here’s the deal, Zoey. You have this weird Mark, so everyone’s talking about you and wondering what the fuck is up with you.’ […] Here’s whats what. I’m it here. Things go my way. You want to get alone here, then you’d best remember that. If you don’t you’ll be in for a world of shit.’ ” (p.69)


Aphrodite definitely thinks very highly of herself and seems to be a very powerful force to be reckoned with. She also makes it very clear to Zoey that just because she has her Mark filled in, that doesn’t mean that gives her the right to dethrone Aphrodite at the school. This seems a bit strange, especially considering how needy Aphrodite was acting towards Erik just moments before. Is there something happening that we don’t know about? 

As Zoey enters her room she is introduced to Stevie Rae Johnson for the first time.


“With a huge grin, my new roomie, also a blondie, rushed up like a little countrified tornado.” (p. 70)


Stevie Rae is a bubbly Okie blonde girl who loves everything country, which Zoey notices as she takes in Stevie Rae’s decorations. 
The two girls bond over the fact that they both think that Aphrodite is a horrible bitch and Stevie Rae mentions that she had been expecting Zoey.
At the House of Night, Trackers sense their targets whom they have to Mark which indicates when a new fledgling is going to join the House of Night. 

As Zoey tells Stevie Rae about a lot of the hotspots that she would want to show her aroudn Tulsa, she comes to realize that she has never seen a fledgling, let alone a vampyre out and about in public. She worries that maybe she won’t be able to leave the House of Night either, and this worries her greatly. 


“So would they keep us locked up here for four years? Feeling a little short of breath and claustrophobic I asked, 

‘Do we ever get out of here?’ ” (p.73)

(source: HouseofNightSeries.com)


Stevie Rae quickly explains that they may leave whenever but there are certain rules attached. (They are not allowed to wear any part of their uniform, and they must cover up their Mark in public). 
Stevie Rae then introduces Zoey to her uniform, which includes a black blouse and a pullover sweater with their respective class symbol. Stevie Rae explains that the House of Night classes are split into third former, fourth former, fifth former and sixth former and already explains the third former symbol. 


“The silver embroidery was in the shape of a spiral that glittered around and around in a delicate circle that would rest over my heart. […]

‘It stands for our new beginning as we start walking the Path of Night and learn the ways of the Goddess and the possibilities of our new life.’ ” (p.75)



“But if was the sapphire-colored Mark that caught my eyes. While I stared at it, entranced by its exotic beauty, the bathroom light caught the silver embroidered over my heart. I decoded that the two symbols somehow matched, even though they were different shapes…different colors.” (p.77)



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