Friday, August 3, 2012

Revisiting the House of Night

**Warning May Contain Spoilers**

I just finished Destined, the last book (for now) in the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast. I've been reading the series for fun as well as for the Pagan Reading Challenge and I thought I would give a review for the whole series.

For those of ya'll who don't know, these books are about a 16-year-old Oklahoma girl named Zoey Redbird who is chosen by the vampyre goddess Nyx to become a vampyre fledgling and Nyx's representative in the modern world.  After she is "marked" she moves into the Tulsa House of Night (vamp finishing school) and soon forms a close-knit group of friends and allies.

Throughout the next nine books Zoey and her friends team up with other vamps backed by Nyx to battle against the House of Night's High Priestess (principle) turned evil immortal, Neferet, who is allied with the personification of Darkness and who's main goal is to cause chaos and destruction.

Many people have commented negatively about this series  for various reasons. The complaints that I have heard the loudest have been the fact that the dialogue and prose are poorly written, the books are confusing because they switch between the first person point-of-view of Zoey and the third-person POV  of supporting characters, and that the books are basically boring because they are full of teenage drama.

I will say the POV changes can take some getting used too, especially since it doesn't happen until the sixth book. However, I believe the switches provide necessary information and insight into character development that would otherwise be lost if the Casts stuck with Zoey's first person narration.

What many people consider to be poorly written prose is actually down-to-earth and real-life dialogue that again shows the characters attitudes and personalities. For example, we learn just as much about Zoey's character by her repetitive use of "poopie" rather than being vulgar and crude. I find the Casts to be refreshing in their choice to refrain from using lofty and unrealistic language that would be at odds with the characters and the time period.

As for the "teenage drama", the serious and life-changing themes of morality, the battle between Light and Dark, and the death of loved ones are balance by boyfriend drama, fights with friends, bullying and "mean-girls", and the desire to fit in and be normal. I respect the Casts for adding these themes because too often people choose to ignore these topics and forget that they are real-life issues that everyone deals with, not just teenagers.

The House of Night series has become a personal favorite of mine because of the religious aspects and the focus on love, forgiveness, the power of choice,  and the fight between Light and Dark that permeate all nine books.

The books are heavily based on pagan and Wicca practices as well as Native American (specifically Cherokee) myths and legends. Zoey is the grandaughter of a Cherokee Wise Woman and her grandmother's teachings, as well as her unconditional love, help strengthen and guide Zoey throughout the series. Some of the books' main villians, the Tsi Sgili and Raven Mockers, come from real Cherokee legends. As Nyx's representative and High Priestess, Zoey is gifted with an affinity for all five elements (including spirit). With her friends (who each have their own single element affinity) they cast circles to communicate with Nyx or fight against the forces of Darkness. The idea of reincarnation and life after death is discussed later in the series when Zoey's childhood love is killed.

The ideas of love, forgiveness, the power of choice, and the struggle between Darkness and Light are the main themes seen throughout the series. From the very first book Zoey has to deal with the idea that "Darkness does not always equate to evil, just as light does not always bring good", an idea that gets repeated often in the series. She struggles to forgive and see redemption in mean-girl Aphrodite and evil-born Raven Mocker Rephaim, balance the love she has for Heath and her Warrior Stark as well as come to terms with her love for her flawed absente mother,  and to understand that her past lives do not dictate her present. The Casts put special emphasis on these ideas and try to help readers understand that forgiveness must be earned, love is never a mistake, and that we all have both Light and Dark within us but it is our choices that determine our path.

Overall, I highly recommend the House of Night series to anyone who is looking for an ass-kicking, edge-of-your-seat, insightful, inspiring, tear-jearking, and thought provoking read. It literally has something for everyone: vampyres, fallen angels, ancient goddesses, magick, mystery, friendship, love, betrayal, life-or-death struggle, redemption, and much, much more.

These truly are some great books and I can't wait until the tenth book, Hidden, that comes out this October!

I also found out here recently found out that there is a companion book that discusses the mythology and religion discussed in the books. Even if you aren't a fan of the books this would be interesting pagan read because it contains lecture type essays written on topics like Nyx and various night goddesses, feline familiars, priestess and goddess worship in general, and even one discussing the similarities between the goddess Nyx and the Virgin Mary.

There is also a House of Night themed oracle deck coming out in October that I want to get. Hopefully the artwork will be gorgeous.

Well, time for me to hit the sack, it's been a long day. I hope ya'll come back tomorrow to see my Pagan Blog Project post, it's the first day of the letter "P".

I hope ya'll have sweet dreams and as always Blessed Be!

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