So I should probably come clean with you guys, I had never heard of House of Night before reading this graphic novel collecting the 5 issue mini series written by mother/daughter duo P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast (who also write the novels) with help from screenwriter Kent Dalian. The writers work with artists Joëlle Jones and Karl Kerschl to tell a story that takes place after the first book in the series that has spent over 100 weeks on New York Times Bestselling list. Maybe I was living under a rock, or maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve programed my brain to filter out all pop culture vampire trash because Buffy is the greatest and only necessary vampire franchise (in my not so humble opinion). Maybe it’s just because I’m obviously not part of the target audience, which appears to be teenage girls. Regardless of reason, I was unaware, but when I heard about this graphic novel produced by Dark Horse that spelled “vampyre” the same way Rupert Giles‘ book did I thought it would be worth checking it out.
If you’re new to the series like me, it’s basically Vampyres meets Hogwarts. Vampyres are good and they mark people from our
muggle real world with crazy tattoos and then take them away to Vampyre schools, conveniently located all over the world. The series mostly follows the adventures of 16 year old fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird. Each issue of the graphic novel focuses on a lesson the goddess Nyx is trying to teach Zoey in preparation for becoming the leader of the Dark Daughters. These lessons center around the elements Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and Spirit and also ties into lessons from history from the Fledgling Handbook. These are all positive and somewhat meaningful messages dealing with some themes of responsibility, compassion and tolerance. I was surprised at the writers for putting some occasionally profound messages in their stories. I wasn’t expecting that. Comic book readers will recognize the idea of super powered beings and the world that hates and fears them. Any fan of the X-Men will have read similar stories about teens in their awkward years developing while learning to control super powers and use them for good.
My problems with this book mostly stem from the formulaic story telling and the generic art. I had a difficult time believing the characters and the story just tied together too nicely. Each issue Zoey conveniently runs into an applicable life experience that fits in with her lesson for the day. I also wasn’t a fan of the lessons using recognizable myths and historical figures like Odysseus and Cleopatra to tie into their Vampyre mythology. It just felt like they were forcing importance into the series. The history lessons were also a little repetitive but at least they were done by a different artist each issue which added a unique flair to the stories. One issue even had work done by Daniel Krall, which was enjoyable. One of the history lessons involved several graphic rape scenes which seemed to be more than a little distasteful, on top of being an overused back story for women in comics for far too long. But that’s another discussion entirely. Ultimately, House of Night isn’t bad, but it is intentionally juvenile. So if you know a teenage girl who likes vampire mythology, then you might consider picking it up for them. If you’re a fan of the book series, well, then you’re probably going to read it regardless of what I say.