My Hyper-Belated Take on the House of Night Novels

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I think most of us can agree that P.C. Cast is a decent writer.

Which begs the question: Where on earth did “House of Night” come from??

Before I go any farther, I’ll admit I only read the first book, called “Marked.” But I think that was enough. To be perfectly blunt, it sucked.

For those of you who are even more behind than me, “Marked” is Cast’s collaboration with her daughter, Kristin. It  follows the progression of Zoey Redbird, a fledgling vampyre in a world (parallel? future?)where vampyres are a fact of life. They’re separate from humans, they’re dangerous, but they’re here, and there’s nothing to do about it.

Zoey’s an interesting heroine. A normal teenage girl, she is reluctantly chosen as a vampyre, which basically means she’s separated from her family. Zoey’s also quite believable within the parameters of the story.

Unfortunately, Zoey is the only likeable part of this book.

While the opening sentence is certainly a gripper, the book swiftly falls flat from there. The writing is much too lean, and it seems unskillful; the progression is a little too fast, there aren’t any smooth transitions–it’s always very jarring, jarring enough to let you know you definitely are reading, and aren’t lost in the book–and with the exception of Zoey, nobody’s a sympathetic character. In fact, ALL of the sideline characters are incredibly shallow. Neferet is the deepest character after Zoey, and even she’s a stereotype.

For instance, Aphrodite is so openly self-centered that, from her first or second sentence, I wondered if I was reading a bullying scene written by a 2nd-grader. Most of the writing style is like that, but Aphrodite saying, “This place is awesome because of me” is so incredibly stupid, even for a villainess, that I almost stopped reading. Aphrodite can easily be a nasty character without throwing it in our faces that like. Having to be so obvious is a mark of bad writing; if the writer has to tell that tidbit, and has no way of showing it for the reader to infer him or herself first, then there’s a problem.

Also, Zoey’s friends are just as unbelievable: one’s the hick-stupid country girl, her human best friend is so without depth, so snarky and vapid, that it was boring; and even her love interest is your basic two-dimensional hero template. Excluding one dirty scene early in the novel, he’s the boy next door–without anything to his personality or history beyond that. NONE of them have any personality beyond stereotypical high school roles. It’s not that fitting the high school roles into this story is bad; in this novel, which has the potential to be funny, it could have been hysterical. But instead it’s only ridiculous.

The plot is also so insanely juvenile. While you expect high school drama here–it’s a vampire boarding school– you would think the underlying plot would be deeper, or at least not so submerged in adolescent melodrama.

I do apologize for the severity here, but for any reader who likes story depth and character development is going to be so disappointed. The story was shallow, a thin plot developed in time to cash in on the vampire craze, an excuse for more adolescent fantasy in relatively clean book-form. I know we all need escapism, but I do think it could be better than this. The writers could have done much better; I don’t know why they welshed here.

I’d advise you to skip it. Still, take this with a grain of salt; one man’s trash, and all that. 

For the record, though, I think it’s definitely trash.

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