First there was Count Dracula. Then came Edward Cullen, the vampire threat throb who has become the new age “romantic hero.” And now we have Zoey Redbird, a sixteen year old half Cherokee girl who is on her way to becoming the world’s most powerful vamp. Of course in Joey’s world, humans and vampyres co-exist and do so almost peacefully. Any human can be “marked” by a vampyre (yes this isn’t a typo) tracker and chosen to join the ranks of the undead. It requires no vampyre bite, no motive. Only leads to the marked teenager being labelled as a freak by “ordinary” humans. But hey, there are no crosses that are embedded into their hearts to finish them off. The process of transformation to a creature with a blood lust is painful but not at all akin to Bella’s transformation in Twilight. No, becoming a vampyre is a long drawn process. And in this book, the mother daughter duo of P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast try to make the reader see things from the point of view of a human who suddenly finds herself craving for her ex-boyfriend’s blood. Disgust, horror, denial, shame and yet an almost insatiable all consuming desire for blood.
The House of Night series provides a different take on the Vampyre world. And Marked being the first book of the series explains it as a matriarchal society led by a female Goddess. The men vampires are useful only as consorts and in some cases, protectors. The vampyres summon their powers from the elements of nature- wind, fire, water, land and spirit. Any human who has been marked has to undergo rigourous training at the House of Night, a school that grooms young vampyres and teaches them, alongside history, sociology, spanish, activities like fencing, equestrian training (or in layman’s terms, horse riding), karate, drama, tae-kwan-do. Only good old geometry is missing from the syllabus. And yes, the world’s greatest artists, musicians, actors and actresses are all vampyres. So they are not just hateful, spiteful, blood sucking creatures. They are beautiful, talented ex humans who have developed special powers and the blood that they drink is from donors. Of course there are the “evil” vampyres who crave and drink human blood, but Marked has little of them. This novel is just providing the setting for a new world and so the action is minimal.
The series warns that it is not suitable for young readers under age 16. Perhaps it is due to the fact that there is a little more gore in it that in the Twilight series. Also there are references to carnal pleasures. And yet Marked is a novel written for teenagers. The language is colloquial, the vocabulary akin to that of any American collegiate. Zoey is full of slang. The book is not as well written as the Twilight series and you definitely don’t experience Zoey’s emotions like you experience Bella’s. Yet, the totally different vampyre society that it creates is intriguing. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in novelty and pace. If you are a vampyre novel fan or are looking for a fun fantasy read, pick it up. But don’t go around looking for romance, at leats not in Marked. Yes, there is a “hero” and yes there is some element of attraction between the main protagonist and him, but that is not the undercurrent of the book. This is no vampyre romance novel and Erik Night, the male vampyre-in-the-making is no Edward Cullen.