House of Night #1: Marked – P.C. & Kristin Cast

When I was about fourteen years old, I picked up Marked from the airport book shop on our way to a family holiday. I absolutely devoured the first book and then had to sit in agony for the rest of the two weeks until I could get my hands on the second one.
I know a lot of people might not particularly like this book, or the entire House of Night series, but I stand by my love for it. The world buidling, the plot, the character developments, and the intricate mythology wound inside is what makes these books so cherished by me. 

Warning! There will be spoilers, possibly from books across the entire House of Night series.

Marked

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 as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx and has affinities for all five elements: Air, Fire Water, Earth and Spirit. But she is not 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 mis-using her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny – with a little help from her new vampyre friends (or Nerd Herd, as Aphrodite calls them)”


~


Zoey is pretty much your average teenage girl. She goes to high school with her best friend Kayla, hates geometry, loves to hang out and shop and has boy problems. That is, until she gets Marked and gets whisked off to the House of Night, a vampyre finishing school, where she will either turn into a full adult vampyre in the next four years or die. Yep, you heard that right. Game. On. 

The entire vampyre mythology has always completely fascinated me, and I think both P.C. and Kristin do such an amazing job to make it so tangible and real, especially as they weave the Cherokee heritage into the entire picture, creating this amazing mixture between the old and new. Nyx and her presence throughout the series speak so much to me, especially since I am a Christian. The love that a person has towards God is true and unique and it’s not about rules or regulation or any of that crap but love and faith and hope.

The thing is, though, that vampyres are complete outcasts by the human society, and are especially hated, since humans see them as blood-sucking evil cultists who want nothing more than to take over the human world.
Zoey especially experiences this after getting Marked as her ‘best friend’ Kayla suddenly cringes away from her and seems repulsed at touching her. This discourages and saddens Zoey greatly, since all she wanted was to fit in and she doesn’t want to lose Kayla.
The only person who doesn’t seem too greatly disturbed by her Mark is Heath – her (ex)boyfriend – who doesn’t seem to get it through his head that Zoey is through with him.

At this point in time I don’t think people think much of Heath. He drinks, he smokes pot and is madly obsessed with Zoey. However, I think the fact that he himself is not disgusted by Zoey becoming a fledgling shows his loyal, noble and loving character which we will see a lot of later on in the series.

Not only that, but her parents are completely freaked out, since her stepfather is an elder of the People of Faith, who are completely again the vampyres and all that they stand for.
Now I would like to go into a bit of a rant about these ‘People of Faith’. There have been a lot of people complaining that these are to represent everyday Christians, but that is not the case, at all. These People of Faith are bigoted, misogynistic and absolutely hypocrites, and are meant to represent negative people found in every religion. Later on we will actually see some Catholic nuns who help Zoey and her gang quite a bit and they are shown as very respectable, noble and godly. (*insert happy dance for having Christian represented good*)

Zoey hates her stepfather though, and it is made obvious that ever since he came into the family, Zoey’s mom has been changed, and has neglected her duties as a mother to Zoey. She has become submissive, obedient and compliant and has had a major character change, which disturbs Zoey but also makes the decision to go to the House of Night that much easier for her. She realizes that this hasn’t been a true family for a while and that she wants to find one within her new life.
We also see the figure that has replaced Zoey’s mother in her life: her grandmother. Her grandmother upholds her Cherokee values and has taught them to Zoey, which will be prominent in the books to come. She is loving, kind and patient and I instantly fell in love with her character from the moment I read about her. She is just an absolute role model and I cannot think of a better person to teach Zoey her life lessons.

As Zoey arrives at the House of Night she meets Neferet, the school’s High Priestess. Ahhh, she seems very warm and welcoming, but Zoey gets a ‘gut feeling’ about not telling her about meeting the Goddess in a dream which was also the reason her Mark got filled in. This is quite a bit of foreshadowing to the second book in the series, and the true character of Neferet, which again gives me the chills. I can see through the act, Neferet. 

You see, the Goddess Nyx had made it very clear to Zoey that she is a very special fledgling, and has given her some careful instructions to heed. She is to be the eyes and the ears of the Goddess. Zoey obviously doesn’t completely understand what kind of an effect that will have later on, but still remembers what Nyx has told her and keeps it to herself. (Gut feeling included). She also tells Zoey one the most important things in the entire series: darkness does not always equate to evil just as light does not always bring good.


I also absolutely love Zoey’s friends. Stevie Rae just brightens up the book and brings some warmth to the chapters she is in. Damien is also just so nice and I love how P.C. and Kristin have added in some much need LGBT into modern literature.
I have to say, though, that I was never such a huge fan of Shaunee and Erin. Although I find it completely justified to be annoyed at Aphrodite and her behavior, I think that sometimes they take it a bit too far. But yet again, that is something that gets resolved in one of the last books, so I see that as foreshadowing as well.

Now we get to Aphrodite. Oh, man, I love this girl so much. What? I hear you say. Well I say to you: GO READ THE NEXT BOOKS.
She is an absolute bitch to Zoey, that’s very true, but at the end you can see a vulnerability to her and an urgency that even confuses Zoey. It definitely has something to do with Neferet and her visions and is kept a mystery at the moment.

Erik is just kind of meh at the moment. Zoey thinks he’s hot and clearly wants to be with him, but there is way more to his character than all the sweet stuff he has been saying and Zoey will realize this later on but for now I’ll just shhhhhh about it 🙂

I must say that the first time I read about Zoey taking over Aphrodite’s Dark Daughter/Sons ritual at the end, gave me absolute chills. She kicked ass, but also definitely didn’t needlessly bully Aphrodite and when she did say something mean, she felt bad about it, which I think shows a nobility of her character that a lot of book heroine’s desperately need. I’m not saying Zoey is perfect, in fact, she’s far from it and she does annoy me at times, but I also think she keeps it real. Some of the things she thinks that might irritate a lot of people are stuff that I probably would have thought as well (especially concerning her new Mark), because, hey, we’re not perfect and we will think annoying things that might come across badly to people (that’s why we think not speak them!)

I think this book is an extremely powerful start to the series, delving us into a beautiful fictional world filled with ancient magick and a beautiful and wise Goddess.

~

“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!” 

“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.”

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…” 


“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.” 

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

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

“Heath! Be careful. If you fall you’re going to break something.” Well, unless he landed on his head – then he’d probably be okay.

“Value them; they are pearls of great price.”

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