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Marked: A House of Night Novel    by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast order for
by P. C. Cast
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

This is the first in P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast's House of Night trilogy for young adults. And what a way to start a series! Marked has all the elements that make the first book of a trilogy gripping, plus it pulls the reader in from the very first page and does not let go, even at the end.

Zoey Montgomery is a typical teenager who is just trying to fit in and survive life at her Oklahoma high school. Things become more difficult when she gets Marked as a Fledgling Vampyre on her way out of school one day. Shunned by her friends and her family, she makes her way to her Cherokee grandmother's lavender farm. There the effects of her recent Marking send her into a coma in which she meets the Vampyre Goddess Nyx. Upon waking from her deep slumber, Zoey finds herself in the infirmary at the House of Night, a Tulsa school for Fledglings. She also discovers that her Mark is now fully filled in, obviously the result of her dream of Nyx, which her gut is telling her that she had better keep to herself. Once she meets her roommate, Stevie Ray, and starts classes, Zoey finds herself liking her new school, although, like any high school, it has its bullies. The school's elite are the Dark Daughters, who think everyone should be scared of them, and most are. Zoey, however, realizes that Nyx has given her the power to stand up to them, but not without cost.

Marked is a spellbinding story that grabs the reader immediately with the opening sentence, 'Just when I thought my day couldn't get any worse, I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker.' The action keeps moving, and many of the situations that Zoey finds herself in are ones to which teen readers can easily relate. For that matter, Zoey is a character to whom many readers will find themselves drawn, as she is very realistic ... most of the time. There are a few places throughout the story where Zoey voices strong opinions on serious issues that do face many teenagers today, such as drug use and oral sex. At these points, it feels more like the authors are preaching to the reader rather than Zoey talking to the reader. There is nothing wrong with Zoey feeling that way and expressing her views, but when these topics come up and are dwelled on, there seems to be an obvious shift between Zoey's point of view and the authors', which detracts from the story.

Other than this minor point, the Casts do an excellent job with Marked. It is realistic but fantastic and the suspense builds, leaving the bigger storyline unfinished and the reader waiting for the next House of Night novel.

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