Marked: A House of Night Novel (House of Night series #1) by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Originally released in paperback, this series has now been re-issued in hardcover.
By now, you would think young adult readers would be getting tired of the whole vampire genre, but the hunger continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Critics seem to compare every new vampire book to the TWILIGHT series, but I think this is selling some great books short.
MARKED is the first book in the House of Night series and I feel you need to take a look at the clever writing and interesting twist to this time-worn subject. Cast senior (mom P. C.) and Cast junior (daughter Kristin) introduce us to the world of a vampire finishing school some have described as TWILIGHT meets HARRY POTTER. The House of Night is a school for fledgling vampires-to-be - where those who have been "marked" come to go through the change and learn how to be true vampires.
Fledgling vampires are marked by a vampire tracker for the change. This is how we are introduced to the main character, Zoey Redbird. One day Zoey is a normal teenager just trying to fit in and the next moment she is marked as different from the rest. But not only is she different from her human friends, she is also different from other fledglings. All fledglings are instantly "tattooed" with the outline of a moon on their foreheads - the symbol they have been chosen. However, Zoey's mark is entirely filled in after a dream confrontation with the Goddess Nyx.
Zoey leaves behind her family - a mother who is the victim of emotional spouse abuse, a step-father who is a religious fanatic, and Grandma Redbird, her Cherokee grandmother (on her mother's side). She also leaves behind her football player boyfriend who has started to drink excessively and her best friend who talks more than she listens. Zoey's mother and step-father are narrow-minded religious nuts, but her grandmother is supportive and helps her make it to the House of Night in time. Zoey's friends at first are scared of her, but then try to reconnect to disastrous results.
And to make matters worse, on her first day at the House of Night, Zoey meets a High Priestess-in-training who immediately turns into a nemesis. But Zoey soon learns she has unusual abilities - she is able to call all 5 elements - Earth, Wind, Water, Fire and Spirit. She realizes she has been chosen by the Goddess Nyx for a specific purpose and she is determined to follow her destiny.
MARKED is a fast read and I did not want it to be over - good think I already had the 2nd book - BETRAYED - waiting in the wings. It's well-written and held my interest from start to finish and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.