Reflecting on The House of Night and other Vampire series

My being a Twi-hard led me to check into a lot of vampire fiction…

The House of Night was the only thing that stuck.
I’d say that I threw all those series against the wall to see which stuck… except that there were 3-4 times where I wanted to literally throw a “House of Night” book against the wall when I got to a horrific ending.

As for the others I tried… let’s see…

I got “Blue Bloods” by Melissa De La Cruz. The mythos was a little complex and complicated for me to invest in beyond book 1.
I got “EverNight” by Claudia Gray. Considering how long I’d been dealing with Edward Cullen, I thought the guy was the vampire. As it turns out, it was the girl, Bianca, who was a vampire. They just took 100 pages to actually MENTION that. The guy wound up being from a family of vampire hunters and there was this whole Romeo/Juliet thing going on. But the series was already kinda ruined for me.

I watched “The Vampire Diaries” for a couples season, really enjoyed the dynamic of the Salvatore brothers. [Heck, I started writing my own vampire fiction, fueled by my own angst in my life with work and lack thereof… never finished it but one day I ought to]
It started to get a little loopy for me when they introduced a werewolf. Bonnie being a witch was a breeze, but adding a werewolf… there was too much going on. Then “American Idol” shifted to Wednesdays and Thursdays so I gave up on the series. By this point, I hear that most of Elena’s family is dead and she’s now a vampire.
I read the first book, only to find it was NOTHING like the series. Damon was extra evil (he was bad early on, but he came around), her friend Caroline was an enemy, and by the end of the story, she’d already been turned into a vampire.

And I also did read (and later see) “Interview with a Vampire”
Yeah, it was a good story and Brad Pitt made a pretty good Louis (I read it as “Louis” not “Louie”- aka the “French” pronunciation, so that lost me a bit).
The book just took me a long time to read/get through.

So yeah, I tried 5 other vampire series and House of Night was the only one I got to stick after “Twilight.”

I’ve gone on and on on this blog previously (although it had been ages) about my being a Twi-hard. Practically living and breathing that series. Being Team Edward. Putting myself in Bella’s shoes while reading (the only thing I don’t have in common with her is her ish against surprises).
But my attraction to it was that it made vampires, who I saw as horror movie monsters, more accessible. People hate on the fact that they sparkle in sunlight instead of blowing up. That the “vegatarian” Cullens blend in with humans rather than feasting on them, getting their blood from animals.
But I’m not here for defending “Twilight” (my movie will take over that at some point, just deciding when).

According to Goodreads, The House of Night isn’t without its critics either. Nobody’s taking issue with the vampyre (not a typo) mythology. A lot of the hate is focused on the protagonist, Zoey Redbird.
Mostly on the fact she has issues with multiple boyfriends, but also there’s a question of immaturity and the fact she happens to be gifted with affinities for all 5 elements.
As was the case with Bella Swan and Anastasia Steele, I tend to put myself in the shoes of the protagonist when its told in first person POV. So I’m naturally going to spring to their defense whenever it comes about.

In retrospect, the series of House of Night was done really well. I got into it because it focused on teenagers.
It took place at a vampyre finishing school. Teenagers get “marked” by a vampyre known as a “tracker” and they go to this school (known as House of Night) to learn about the biology of vamps, the magical aspects of their mythology and so on. And not all fledgings successfully make the change to grown vampyre. Some of their bodies reject the change and they die by drowning in their own blood.

After she’s marked, Zoey immediately falls into a circle of friends (which take on a more literal meaning later on) and crosses the residential “It” girl, Aphrodite. Her first encounter with her was seeing her giving oral sex to her boyfriend, Erik Knight… accidentally comes upon them in the hallway.

I don’t come across sex in fiction all that often, but some of it was pretty hot. Being with this scene, then later Zoey losing her virginity, and the whole bloodlust relationship she has with her still-human high school quarterback boyfriend Heath. Supposedly when a vampyre feasts on human blood, it serves as an aphrodisiac for both parties.

By the end of the second book, Zoey and Aphrodite become friends and we find out who the real villain is… the High Priestess/principal of the Tulsa House of Night, Neferet.
Therein lies my biggest criticism of this series… I’m used to a lot of villains that at least have a weakness, they’re prone to stupid mistakes… yeah, I read Harry Potter and know Voldemort isn’t any of those things.
Maybe I’m not used to a female villain being this powerful and invincible.

Maleficent (going by the Disney animated version, not the new version, which I’m not 100% sure I want to see) never had this elitist attitude about her younger adversary. Neferet made it her life’s mission to go after a teenager while believing “what does a puny little girl going to do against me?”
It just didn’t feel right to me. In fact, it was idiotic.

Several books later (plus one novella), we understand why she’s so anti-human and why she became evil. But being sexually assaulted by your father at age 16 still doesn’t excuse all her actions.

Voldemort had more layers than that. And yeah, his attitude is kinda a take on fascism. All because his human father abandnoned his mother and she died when he was born, leaving him an orphan, he has a vendetta against normal humans (aka Muggles).
Neferet just has that attack/domination and the fact her boyfriend abandoned her upon hearing she was “defiled”… that’s not a big enough excuse for me to go this evil, I’m sorry.

Let’s see, what else…

In addition to the affinity for 5 elements, Zoey is special because her crescent moon tattoo was filled in when she was marked (opposed to being an outline, something that separates fledgings from full-grown vampyres) and gets tattoos added through the first couple books after she accomplishes some extraordinary things.
Other vampyres get them and they ally with the special gifts they have. They’re also blue.

We have added mythology of “red vampyres” after Zoey’s best friend Stevie Rae dies and comes back as a red fledging. A vampire that goes with more of the stories. Can’t be out in sunlight (whereas regular vampires are just sensitive to sunlight). Have to be invited into a house to gain entrance. She’s also very feral (as are the other red fledgings, other students believed to have rejected the change and died) and bloodthirsty.
With the help of Aphrodite, who winds up giving up her vampyre powers in the process, Stevie Rae and the other red fledgings regain their humanity (so they’re like normal fledgings, but with the red tattoos and burning up in sunlight).

The first part of the series focuses on Zoey trying to get her friends to realize that Neferet is the villain and they have to defect from the House of Night to get away from her.
Neferet also enlists the help of Kalona, the “fallen” former consort of Nyx, the Goddess that all vampyres pray to and who grants them special gifts.
The next couple books focuses on Neferet using Kalona to kill Zoey’s boyfriend Heath, thereby shattering her.
Her spirit was trapped in the Otherworld and her future boyfriend Stark (part of the reason I had to check into “Rebel without a cause” cuz he’s named after the James Dean character) had to rescue her. And Neferet sent Kalona to keep her from restoring herself… something that obviously failed.
Then the final 4 books was about exposing Neferet as the villain to all vampyres and figuring out how to defeat her.

A defeat that involved TRAPPING her, not killing her… yeah, like she’d amassed so much dark power that she’s immortal, so she could only be imprisoned. That was the only negative I could draw from the final book.
But thankfully, we didn’t lose any other major characters.

Loved the dynamic of Zoey’s friends. Each with their own affinity for an element, but also each had a unique personality.
Steve Rae being the stereotypical Okie.
Damien being the gay male friend (whose parents oddly accepted his becoming a vampyre but not his sexual preference) that’s a walking dictionary.
And Erin and Shaunee had the “Twin” dynamic. They look nothing alike and aren’t even related but they finished each other’s sentences so well they practically had Twin-telepathy.

I also loved how their dialogue occasionally dropped pop culture references. Because that’s something I do and live for 😀

Other than the villain, my other nitpicks and unanswered questions:
Someone asked what happened to Zoey’s siblings. She had a brother and sister, both apathetic when she got marked in the first book and we hadn’t seen them since.
Her mom married the so-called “steploser” who is a “person of faith” so when she got marked, he was claimed that she sinned and deserved what she got. Meanwhile, her mom did absolutely nothing for her. By the time she saw straight and came around, she got killed.
That was a double-whammy because she didn’t just get killed by Neferet, but this “sacrifice” was needed to create a “vessel” for Neferet to use for her evil… and the soul of Zoey’s boyfriend Heath (who we finally said goodbye to in the middle of the series… that on/off relationship she had with him really got on my nerves, almost as much as Jacob in “Twilight” trying to woo Bella when I was so very much Team Edward, and around the time we said goodbye to him, I’d accepted it and started to like him) integrated into the body of this new vessel.
Aurox had the appearance of a boy, but he could transform into a bull.
Also kinda wonder what happened to the “steploser”… I thought maybe he’d make an appearance in the final book when humans were invading the House of Night to get sanctuary from Neferet.

And maybe there was an excess of “bad guys turning good”… this included the Raven Mocker that almost killed Zoey and later became romantically involved with Stevie Rae. Of course, Aphrodite, but within a couple books, I loved her as a character. Great attitude, wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and run her foul mouth.
And even Kalona turned to good… although he was technically good to begin with, but after Nyx cast him from the Otherworld (his jealousy for his brother’s relationship with her turned him to the dark side), he was evil. Once he was freed of Neferet’s control, he changed back to good to be worthy of Nyx’x forgiveness.

It took longer than it should have for things to end, but overall, I had a great time.
Maybe I’ll read through the series again, now that I know all the books are out and I have them in my house.

Now I can turn my attention to the 15-20 books I have on my shelves (mostly from book sales and hand-me-downs) that I haven’t checked into. I have so little shelf space (for books AND CD’s) that I need to make sure the stuff I have is stuff I’m going to use.

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