Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Vampyre Finishing School

Like most people who love to read, I have a TBR (to be read) pile of books. Actually, I have several stacks of TBR books.

During the time I was off for surgery, I made a significant dent in that pile. This was a good thing because I received a LOT of books as gifts during that month.

Among the books I received were four YA novels. Because I dearly love the friend who gave them to me, I managed to suppress my wince when I opened the gift bag: young adult vampire novels. FOUR young adult vampire novels.

While I love the paranormal genre, I gotta say I'm pretty burned out on vampire stories. Of course, I still purchase favorite authors like Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs and Kim Harrison, but I'm not in the market for new vamp novels.

My friend assured me I would love the House of Night teen series by P.C. and Kristin Cast. I thanked her and, when she left, put the stack of mass market books on my nightstand with the other gifts.

The following night, at 3:00 in the morning, I couldn't sleep. As wonderful as the staff of Presbyterian Hospital was, I hate hospitals. In desperation, I picked up the first of those YA books: Marked.

Two and a half hours later, when the nurse came in to take my vitals, I finished the book. During the time I was reading it, I was totally absorbed in the story.

The book is written by a mother/daughter team. P.C. Cast, a Tulsa author, called upon her daughter Kristin to provide the authentic voice of the first person narrator, Zoey Redbird, a teenager who has been singled out by the Vampyre goddess Nyx to become a follower. Here's the copy from the back cover:
Enter the dark, magical world of The House of Night, a world very much like our own, except here vampyres have always existed. Sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird has just been Marked as a fledgling vampyre and joins the House of Night, a school where she will train to become an adult vampire. That is, if she makes it through the Change--and not all of those who are Marked do. It sucks to begin a new life, especially away from her friends, and on top of that, Zoey is no average fledgling. She has been chosen as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx. Zoey discovers she has amazing powers, but along with her powers come bloodlust and an unfortunate ability to Imprint her human ex-boyfriend.
Part of the charm of the series is the terrific dialogue and ever-present humor. In the fifth book (a hardcover titled Hunted released yesterday), Zoey and her vampyre friends are hiding from a fallen angel in the dark and scary tunnels built beneath downtown Tulsa during Prohibition. Here's a sample of the dialogue:
"Hey . . . How did you guys get this stuff down here?" I asked Stevie Rae. "Not that I'm trying to be mean, but this bed and your table and fridges and other things are a serious improvement over the dirty rags and other grossness I saw down here a month or so ago."

She gave me her cute Stevie Rae smile and said, "That's mostly thanks to Aphrodite."

"Aphrodite?" I asked, lifting my brows and staring at her along with everyone else.

"She bought this stuff."

"I stayed down here for two days. Did you expect me to live in a hovel? Not hardly. Have credit cards, will decorate. I think that's on my family crest along with a very dry martini," she said. "There's a Pottery Barn in Utica Square right down the street. They deliver. So does Home Depot, which is also not far from here, although I wasn't aware of that until one of the red freaks [a new breed of vampyre fledglings with red markings instead of the traditional blue] enlightened me because I do not shop at appliance stores."

"Home Depot and Pottery Barn delivered down here?" Erik said.

"Well, not technically," Stevie Rae said. "But they do deliver to the Tribune Lofts which are practically next door. And with a little, uh, friendly persuasion they brought the stuff here and then totally forgot once they left. So, ta-da! New stuff."

"I still don't understand. How could the humans have been persuaded to come down here?" Darius said.

I sighed. "Something you should know about red vampyres. . . They have a mind-control thing they can do with humans."

"That sounds a lot meaner than it is," Stevie Rae assured Darius quickly. "I just tweaked the delivery guys' memories. I didn't mind-control them. We don't go in for using our powers to be all hateful and stuff."

"They can control the minds of humans. They cannot bear direct sunlight. Their powers of recovery are excellent. They need to commune with the earth to feel truly comfortable," Darius said. "Am I leaving anything else out?"

"Yeah," Aphrodite said. "They bite."
And, yes, I purchased the new hardcover released yesterday.

According to yesterday's USA Today:
Mother and daughter writing team P.C. and Kristin Cast will set out on their first national book tour next week promoting Hunted, Book 5 in their increasingly successful House of Night teen vampire series, and the first published in hardcover.

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