Book Review: House of Night series by PC and Kristen Cast (Books 1-3)
Updated: Oct 20, 2020
House of Night series by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Authors: PC and Kirsten Cast
Published by: St. Martins Press 2007-2008 (Books 1 to 3)
Genre: Young Adult Supernatural Fantasy
This review will feature the following books: Marked, Betrayed and Chosen - books 1-3 in the series. The series has 12 books including the spin-off series House of Night Otherworld as well as a number of novellas. For the purposes of this review, I will be covering the first 3 books in the series.
Synopsis from Goodreads :
When sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird is “Marked” by a vampyre tracker and begins to undergo the “Change” into an actual vampyre, she has to leave her family and move into the House of Night, a boarding school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for other fledgeling vampyres like her. 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 fledgeling. She has been singled out by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. Although Zoey has awesome new powers, it’s hard to fit in when everyone knows she's special. As she tries to make new friends and maybe find a hot boyfriend (or two), she comes up against all kinds of evil, from the perfect-looking, super-popular girl with not-so-faultless plans, to the mysterious deaths happening at the House of Night and all over Tulsa. Things at the House of Night are not always what they seem. Can Zoey find the courage deep within herself to discover the truth and embrace her destiny?
Useful to know information - in particular for parents of younger readers
This is not for younger readers. There are quite a few sexual details described in the books.
Relationships between Zoey and her boyfriends are not always healthy. She almost gets into a relationship with an adult male ( she is a teenager).
Negative girl on girl passive-aggressive comments e.g ‘hag’ or ‘slut’. Not too good of a role model for younger girls.
What is it about?
The House of Night series follows a group of students at the ‘House of Night’ school, a school for vampires.
After getting ‘marked’ by the Goddess Nyx, Zoey Redbird enlists into a vampire high school. She soon discovered that she is no ordinary fledgeling, but a chosen of Nyx and has affinities for all the five elements.
This review will focus on the first 3 books of the series and aims to be spoiler-free.
Our main character, Zoey Redbird starts as any other 16 year old. She is struggling to find her own identity and she is having to deal with her mum marrying a guy she does not like. She just wants to have friends and fit in.
She meets Stevie-Raye ( a very giddy roommate) who befriends her as well as some other students and for the first time, Zoey feels like she is part of a gang or the ‘nerd herd’ as it is commonly quoted in the books. She also meets Damian, a guy struggling with coming out as gay to his parents as well as the ‘delicious’ Erik Night, a hot theatre kid whom Zoey is immediately attracted too.
But Erik Night is the boyfriend of the beautiful Aphrodite, a rich girl who is also the leader of the ‘Dark Daughters’ an illustrious student group of the House of Night.
Throughout the series, Zoey learns more about the other characters and sees that sometimes, her first impressions of someone could be wrong. She also sees who she can trust and whom to watch out for, even if it's not that all too clear from the start.
They also sound like teenagers. Which is good! Really really good! How many YA books come where the main character sounds like they are 30 and had an immense amount of life experience ( As someone close to that number, you don’t have that much life experience still. Period ). Way too many that are for sure! Characters act like teenagers in this book because they are teenagers!
Any vampires in the series worship the goddess Nyx, a Greek primordial goddess of the night. The authors interpret the powers that Zoey and her friends come across in her own way. I personally enjoyed a smidge of mythology that they have added to this world. Once they enter the House of Night, each fledgeling (a vampire in training) gets some form of a mark of the goddess Nyx.
Progression in books 1 to 3
The books show the journey that Zoey Redbird, our protagonist takes as she starts turning into a vampire. Throughout this, she learns who her true friends are and what becoming a vampire means to her.
This series is my guilty pleasure. It's easy to read and follow, I quite like the teen high school fantasy setting. The world is built up well, easy to imagine and I do find myself enjoying coming back to this dark world.
Really good at getting you out of your reading slump. I can pick this series up where I left off and binge-read it. Chapters are pretty short (10 minutes to read via a kindle) so it makes it really easy to follow. I read book two when I had a bad cold and I could still follow it perfectly (normally I would give up reading for a few days altogether because my head just does not work with a cold).
Some characters get some really good development (Zoey, Aphrodite and Neferet) and the books make you question their motives throughout each book, making it a series you want to follow and finish.
Other religions can often be portrayed negatively. Zoey’s parents are religious ( assuming Christian) and show quite a lack of tolerance towards Zoey now worshipping Nyx, as she would now that she is turning into a Vampire. Religious people are often shown as judgemental of other religions. You can argue that this is part of the plot but that the books keep trying to highlight this by the characters actions make it a huge turn off.
Zoey goes through quite a few guys. In these 3 books, it's three guys. She has her ex ( Heath) that she grew up with and he was her boyfriend that she grew up with but had to break up because of the whole vampire thing. Thing is, she is not willing to let go and really struggles to break up with him over the three books, even though she knows that a bond between a human and vampire is wrong. We also have poor Erik Night, a guy she was lusting in the first book, whom she gets and then he just kind of ‘exists’ in the next two books. I almost strongly feel that he is somewhat objectified by Zoey because she just keeps him as her current boyfriend because it's convenient. He is her perfect vampire boyfriend. Almost like a trophy since she shows limited affection towards him throughout the next two books and to be honest, I feel she treats him more as a prize than a boyfriend. Then she lusts after a teacher (BIG RED FLAG ALERT) who seems into her (HUGE RED FLAG #2). I really HATED that. That guy was creepy and lusting after a teenager! That is messed up. Now we can argue that all is ok because it's a story and its fantasy and vampire teachers are ok with students but NO! Safeguarding alert? Yes. I feel the younger girls would then romanticise this relationship and think it's ok for an adult male to lust after an underage teen which it's really not. Period.
Very little character development off other characters. I mean you have Zoey and her arch-enemy, Aphrodite developing but that’s about it. Stevie Ray also has some but its for the plot and to help Zoey, rather than a personal one. Erik Night I feel most sorry for since he just exists in this plane of existence so that he can be Zoey’s perfect vampire boyfriend that is convenient. Does he have interests? Well, drama and acting but I think there are also a few small scenes where he follows his interests. Other characters? Yeah, they exist. Not much to say here.
Is it my guilty pleasure? Yes. Will I finish the series? I probably will because it's quite addictive. I would definitely recommend it but to the older readers. Take these books with a pinch of salt and enjoy the ride.
Have you read The House of Night series?
What do you think?
Let me know in the comments!