Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Title:  Marked:  A House of Night Novel

Authors:  P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Paperback:  306 pages

PublisherSt. Martin’s Press

Date Published:  2007

ISBN:  9780312360269

Miscellaneous:  This is the first book in the House of Night series.

I am known by many names… Changing Woman, Gaea, A’akuluujjusi, Kuan Yin, Grandmother Spider, and even Dawn…

As she spoke each name her face was transformed so that I was dizzied by her power.  She must have understood, because she paused and flashed her beautiful smile at me again, and her face settled back into the woman I had first seen.

But you, Zoeybird, my Daughter, may call me by the name by which your world knows me today, Nyx.

“Nyx,” my voice was barely above a whisper.  “The vampyre Goddess?”

… yes, in your world [my]children are called vampyre.  Accept the name, U-we-tsi a-ge-hu-tsa; in it you will find your destiny.

I could feel my Mark burning on my forehead, and all of a sudden I wanted to cry.  “I – I don’t understand.  Find my destiny?  I just want to find a way to deal with my new life – to make this all okay.  Goddess, I just want to fit in someplace.  I don’t think I’m up to finding my destiny.”

Believe in yourself, Zoey Redbird.  I have Marked you as my own.  You will be my first tru  U-we-tsi   a-ge-hu-tsa   v-hna-i   Sv-no-yi … Daughter of Night… in this age…. Within you is combined the magic blood of ancient Wise Women and Elders, as well as insight into and understanding of the modern world.

… “But I’m sixteen!  I can’t even parallel-park!  How am I supposed to know how to be your eyes and ears?”

Marked:  A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast, pages 39-40

Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast was a definite divergence from my typical reading, but I enjoyed it very much.  It’s a Young Adult (though, was edging very close to mostly adult, IMHO) book about a 16 year-old named Zoey who is marked by a Vampyre Tracker and has to leave her world and her old life behind and attend the private vampyre school, House of Night (for which the book series is named).  All young Zoey wants is a place to fit in and belong, but it’s clear from her abnormal Mark that “fitting in” isn’t going to happen.

The book is typical of YA hero books.  Zoey is the good-vamp and immediately knows that Aphrodite is her nemesis.  Zoeylacks the confidence, but overcomes that with the help of her friends who believe in her and encourage her.  She has those few trusted adults to turn to who also encourage her (and of course, none of them are her parents).  She’s surprised by the deep well of abilities and talents, and she sees and feels things others don’t.  And when the time comes to stand up and save the day, she does… over the whimpering and cowering body of Aphrodite, who, afterwards, draws the proverbial line in the sand and tells Zoey “it’s not over.”

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the book is like everything else out there, simply that it follows a form.  The writing, owing probably to the way the two authors divvy up the responsibilities, is unique (a trait that is heavily stressed and embraced at the school, btw) and seems almost conversational.  It is narrated by Zoey, who says little asides to herself while telling the story, and we see the world of the fledgling vampyre through her unique perspective.

Whereas Twilight was a fun, reminiscense of high-school romance and first loves, squeeky clean and was more about temptation and timing, Marked is a bit more sullied.  Within the first few free minutes Zoey has in the school, she accidentally walks up on a guy standing in front of a kneeling girl, face in his crotch area and her hair blocking Zoey’s view.  It is an event that sets the tone of the book, as well as the relationship she has with the two later on (after she discovers their identities).  Yeah… I’d have to say, even after they were married, Bella never gave Edward a blow job (and the Casts use that term, too).  I’m trying to think of how I can sneak Marked back to the library before my 16-year-old can read it.

On a technical level, the characters are well-developed and most of them are likable.  The ones you aren’t meant to like, Aphrodite’s sycophants, her step-loser (step-dad), even Kayla, her ex-best friend, aren’t developed beyond the point of, “name, relationship and purpose… next!”  I would also add, that the Casts have dug deep, imagination-wise, to create a half-a-step-away alternate-reality where vampyrism has always existed, and contain everything in our world (stars, books, mythology) but claiming it as it’s own, Faith Hill is a vampyre for instance.  Also, they borrow a bit from Wicca and the Native American, as well as other bits and pieces from other religions, to create the Vampyre religion, worship of the Goddess Nyx.  It’s rather interesting in that regard, as well.

Fun and a bit naughty, Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast is my beginning into the world of vampyres, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book, Betrayed.  I give Marked 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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I highly recommend visiting The House of Night website, it’s a lot of fun.  You can read the first chapter of Marked there, as well as check out videos of the other HoN books, and even make a pic of yourself with a vampyre Mark.

The video I picked for this book is a lot of fun.  It is a bit long, but you can get a feel for how playful P. C. and Kristen are, both as mother and daughter and as co-authors. It’s a spoof interview, and the Casts contributed to the script.  It’s not so much about Marked, all I found for it were teenage fan-vids, several containing Britney Snow as their hoped-for Stevie Rae… Britney Snow gets on my last nerve D-:< .  But the series has been optioned, so a movie may be coming to a theater near you… or a series on the WB.

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The Icy Hand by Chris Mould

Title: Something Wickedly Weird, Vol. 2: The Icy Hand

Author: Chris Mould

Illustrator: Chris Mould

Unjacketed Trade Hardcover: 176 pages

Publish Date: September 2008

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (div of Macmillan)

ISBN: 9781596433854

The yellowy-white translucent light of a long-dead and well respected scoundrel began to form by the side of Stanley’s bed until it was the fully formed (but headless) figure of a man. Of course, Stanley was blissfully unaware of this. It was three in the morning and he was wrapped in his bedclothes preserving warmth and dreaming furiously.

…The spirit felt for Stanley’s sheets, and when he was sure he held them in his hand, he unrolled the tight chrysalis with a prompt jerk. Thrashing wildly, Stanley rolled on to the floor.

… His dead uncle lifted the forefinger of his right hand and drew four words, on inside each small square pane that ran along the bottom of the window. I need my head.

The Icy Hand by Chris Mould, pp 33-39

When I first came across a banner for The Icy Hand by Chris Mould, I thought it would be an incredibly fun book. With a werewolf, a headless ghost, angry pirates back from the dead and a talking fish, how could it possibly go wrong?

*sigh* Let me tell you how…

Within the first 30 pages, this book was off to a bad start. Part of its problems are poor transitioning. There are times when it goes from one event to another, hours later, without any break. The pacing and tempo is either all over the place or completely M. I. A. from this book. My thoughts on this issue were that, given it’s listed for ages 9-12, maybe it’s a style that works for the younger, less patient audiences?

So I grabbed my 9-12 year old (Maggie, age 10), and read her the books description. Like me, she thought werewolves, headless ghosts and pirates sounded promising. However, after only a few pages, she brought the book back to me saying, “It’s not my thing. I like stories with main characters in them.”

Which brings us to another problem with this book. The characters are poorly developed and rather two-dimensional. It is possible that they were developed in book one, which I have not read, but I’m disinclined to believe that. Again, with the characters, this book is all over the place. They do this then that… sometimes seemingly without purpose.

There is a bright spot with this book. The illustrations are fantastic. They’re dark and creepy, but still maintain a safeness that keeps them from being terrifying to small children. In some ways, the illustrations remind me of the Lemony Snicket series (though I don’t know exactly why), but they are uniquely Mould’s creations.

While The Icy Hand by Chris Mould has a few problems, it’s not entirely unlikeable or readable. I’d be willing to bet, though, this is one of those books that would make a much better movie. I definitely think it’d be a really cool movie, but it’d probably be better to make one of the whole series instead of just one book. I give The Icy Hand 3 out of 5 stars.

I found an interesting video to go with this post, but the embedding is disabled. Watch as Chris Mould creates the cover art for The Darkling Curse, another book in the Something Wickedly Weird series.