Author: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
No. of Pages: 306
First Released: 2007
Synopsis (Courtesy of Joseph-Beth Booksellers): “The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird’s world, vampyres have always existed. In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire–that is, if she makes it through the Change. Not all of those who are chosen do. It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. 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 misusing 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.”
Comments and Critique: I read with a theme during the April Read-a-Thon, and vampire young adult series was that theme. One would think that the vampire story would get old after a while, but each author I pick up has a unique twist to it. P.C. and Kristin Cast are no different in that they present the idea of a vampire finishing school. While it might seem like a silly idea, it really is fun and ultimately compelling. Even better, unlike other novels where the vampires are not evil incarnate, Marked hints at a society that is not as friendly, even dangerous. It is a welcome approach to the mythology that makes it fresh.
Zoey Redbird is exceedingly likeable. A reader cannot help but support someone with such a common sense approach to life, someone who does not have a privileged background. Zoey is just a not-so-average teen struggling to fit in to her new school. We have all been there at some point in our lives and can definitely relate to her “new-kid-in-the-school” angst.
I found the idea of tattoos on vampires appealing. There is still a bit of a taboo regarding tattoos, especially facial ones, that renders the entire idea of facial tattoos on vampires as a sign of danger. In addition, while traditionally vampires are difficult to find because they tend to look like normal humans, the Casts’ versions are blatantly marked. This causes them to lose some of the mystery but I think the visual cues makes them even more menacing. At the same time, the idea of a delicate pattern woven around the eyes and cheeks is breathtakingly beautiful. It is an interesting conundrum and speaks to the very charm of vampires no matter what the myth.
From the moment the Tracker appears, there is an undercurrent of stress that builds within the reader. I attribute this to the threat of the final change and the fact that some fledglings will not live through the change. The fact that it happens without any warning contributes greatly to the tension built by the Casts as we follow Zoey’s initial transition to the House of Night and her status as a fledgling vampyre. One turns each page with anticipation and dread that something awful will occur to Zoey or any of her new friends. It is a trick few writers can achieve page after page, yet the Casts have managed to perfect it.
Out of all the vampire books I read in the April Read-a-Thon (of which there were three), Marked was my absolute favorite. I felt the characters were more believable, the danger more apparent, the story more appealing. I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series.
I purchased this book with my own money. This book meets the requirements for the 100+ Reading Challenge, the Read ‘n Review Challenge, the Random Reading Challenge (my son chose this book for me), and the Thriller and Suspense Reading Challenge.