Book Review: Nyx in the House of Night
The second I picked this book up I was wary, because while I loved the House of Night series at first that love quickly turned to disappointment once I realized that the authors cared more about cashing in on their success than writing quality novels. A story that started out strong turned into pointless pages of filler and left myself, and countless other fans, feeling cheated. But instead of focusing on regaining the love of their fanbase by improving the books, they instead write companion novels, like this one, Nyx in the House of Night, in attempt to milk the House of Night cash cow even more. But in spite of my wariness I decided to give this book a shot.
Nyx in the House of Night is a guide book meant to help readers navigate the influences behind the House of Night series. It explores the history of tattoos, vampire folklore, Native American traditions and much more. Since this book is a collection of varied topics written by different authors I’m going to split this review into sections, rather than rate them as a whole. Warning: this is a VERY long review. I attempted to do a normal three paragraph review but it’s impossible with a book like this.
Night in the House of Good and Evil by Karen Mahoney
This was a thoroughly researched chapter on mythology. It mainly focuses on the goddess Nyx, but it also covers a wide assortment of other deities from around the world and the similarities between them. Mahoney reveals the ties between age-old myths and the House of Night series. It was a fascinating and informative chapter that made it clear that P. C. Cast put a great deal of thought into the mythos in the series.
The Dangerous Dead by John Edgar Browning
Not to sounds like a pretentious bitch, but as someone that has spent years personally and professional researching vampire folklore I can honestly say that Browning’s chapter on vampire folklore is hands down the most inaccurate account on folklore I have ever read. It got to the point where I actually slammed the book shut and tossed it away from me. Yeah, I was pissed.
Instead of ranting about the whole chapter, I’ll touch on just a few issues I had. First of many is the author’s remark that Reverend Montague Summers was “good.” Ok, Montague Summers not “good” in the least, he was in fact responsible for the lost lives of countless innocents labeled as vampires or werewolves. Not exactly a nice guy in my opinion.
Second, it’s true that garlic was used against vampires once, but it had absolutely nothing to do with the smell of it as Browning claims. People didn’t hang garlic around their homes because vampires smelled bad, they did it because garlic was believed to have many anti-evil properties. As I wrote HERE, this can be traced back to ancient Egypt. People thought that garlic protected them from the undead, they didn’t really use it for its odor.
As to Browning’s claim that people used whatever was handy to destroy a supposed vampire, also, not true. Every country has their own methods for destroying a vampire, methods that they took very seriously. Some used a wooden stake in the corpse’s heart, but they didn’t use any wood that was lying around. The type of wood was incredibly important, since certain types of wood were thought to hold more power than others (read more about that HERE).
Also, while not a huge issue, I can’t help but wonder why the author insisted on mentioning vampire erections in nearly every paragraph. Seems really unnecessary and strange to me.
If you do read this book, I HIGHLY suggest skipping over Browning’s chapter, all it will do is dumb you down.
By Their Marks You Shall Know Them by Jana Oliver
Fans of the House of Night series know very well what an important role tattoos play in the series, which is why we have this chapter on the history and significance of tattoos. As someone who adores tattoos and takes them very seriously, I really enjoyed this chapter. It was highly informative and very fascinating, Oliver definitely did her research.
The Divine Cat by Ellen Steiber
Another prominent figure in the House of Night series is… CATS! So of course, there would have to be a chapter in this book about cats. Steiber’s chapter covers not only ancient Egyptian beliefs concerning cats, but also all cats throughout the ancient world and in mythology. I really enjoyed the chapter, but then I would seeing how the house I live in is controlled by six very unique cats.
Reimagining “Magic City” by Amy H. Sturgis
This chapter is all about the town of Tulsa, Oklahoma which is where the House of Night series is set. Sturgis covers sights to see in Tulsa, available tours and the real locations which are mentioned in the book. Honestly, I had a hard time reading through this one, because well, I don’t really find small American towns all that fascinating. The author did do a fantastic job researching this town and getting in touch with the history of Tulsa.
The Magic of Being Cherokee by Jordan Dane
A beautifully written chapter on Cherokee beliefs and traditions and the ties they have to the series. The House of Night series contains a large amount of Native American history and customs and this chapter delves deeper into what is mentioned in the books. While it was highly informative and covered everything from women’s roles in Cherokee tradition to herb gathering practices, I would have preferred it if the chapter was written by someone who is actually Cherokee, rather than by someone who writes suspense novels.
The Freedom of Choice by Jeri Smith Ready
What to say about this chapter? Well, 90% of it was simply a recap of everything that happened with Kalona, A-ya and the Raven Mockers. The other 10% was about the choices the characters have to makes – they either choose good or evil. They make mistakes, go through countless hardships and in the end they are left with the choice to side with darkness or light. Some choose right, some wrong, but it’s their will. And that about sums up the entire chapter, a chapter that I felt was a completely unnecessary waste of time.
The Otherworld is Greek to Me by Trinity Faegan
The title of this chapter pretty much fills you in on what it’s about – the ancient Greek Otherworld, such as the Underworld, Tartarus, Elysian Fields and so forth. Faegan does an excellent job not only explaining the history and the beliefs behind such places, but she also ties them and their stories to what can be read in the House of Night series. Comparing the trials and tribulations of the series’ characters to those in ancient myths gives readers new and interesting insights.
The Elements of Life by Bryan Lankford
While Lankford’s tone is light, amusing and his writing is entertaining, I honestly had no idea if he was being serious or not. He mixed a fun bit of fiction in his chapter, but did it in a way that made it difficult to tell whether what he was saying was real or not. His chapter covers a few Wiccan basics and information on the elements and life. While the chapter was interesting, and amusing, it just wasn’t very clear.
Misunderstood by Kristen Cast
Ok, I’ll be honest right away, I have an EXTREME hatred for Kristen’s writing and I didn’t even want to read this chapter, but I did. I was objective and put my hatred for her idiotic “teen speak” out of my mind and focused on what her chapter was about. In this chapter Kristen attempts to defend Zoey’s whorish ways. Ok Kristen, I agree that a teenage girl should not be tied down to one guy, she should NOT obsess pathetically over one man, but I also feel that a teenage girl shouldn’t have three boyfriends, that she shouldn’t cruelly lead on confused guys and she should NOT drop her panties for the first man to whisper sweet things into her ear. I’m a very strong minded and independent woman, no man holds me down, and I have no moral or religious issues with my sexuality or my place in the world. There’s nothing wrong with a woman having sex with whoever she chooses. But Zoey is a teenage girl in high school, not an adult and not to be considered a romantic role model for young girls reading this series. Zoey makes some HUGE mistakes in this series and I understand that readers can learn from them, but don’t put Zoey on a pedestal for female rights. Ugh. Anyway, the majority of this chapter is about the history of polygamy… yeah, it really it. I am a firm believer in “to each their own” so I have no personal issues with polygamists, but I am curious as to what the hell possessed Kristen to bring up polygamy when it has NOTHING to do with Zoey’s situation. I think my brain just exploded. This is why I don’t read things that Kristen Cast wrote all by herself.
She is Goddess by Yasmine Galenorn
This chapter delves into the history and beliefs concerning various Goddesses and Goddess worship throughout the ages. What I loved most about this chapter was that the author was truthful and real, she was the only one to write a disclaimer beforehand. She explained up front that she was writing this chapter not from an academic viewpoint, but from that of a modern day Pagan. That one short disclaimer was a breath of fresh air and instantly won me over. She wasn’t pretending to be some all-knowing expert, she was being herself, a woman who takes her Goddess worship very seriously. That, mixed with the excellent information written in this chapter, is why this was one of my favorite chapters in the entire book.
Worshipping the Female Deity by Christine Zikas
This was a very well-written and thoughtful chapter on beloved female deities from Catholicism and Paganism. The author discusses the similarities between multiple cultures and their roles in the House of Night series. It was a surprisingly unbiased and intelligent essay on not only women, but religion as well. I really enjoyed this chapter, it was clear that the author put a lot of thought into what she was saying and how she was saying it. Well done Zikas.
Cruithne Mythology and the House of Night by P.C. Cast
This chapter covers Scottish and Irish history and mythology. Cast herself explains the ties between Gaelic tradition and the House of Night series, she tells of the extensive research she did on the subjects and how she incorporated her newfound knowledge into the series. This chapter was not only informative, but it was also touching and it earned P.C. Cast a lot of respect from me. While I am highly impressed with how deeply she feels for history and how much work she puts into the House of Night series, I can’t take back the harsh things I have said about the books. While I do see the series in a new light thanks to this companion book, it doesn’t change the fact that the Cast girls royally screwed over their fans with past novels. After reading this chapter I do have hope for the future of the series and I may actually pick it back up and continue reading it. So congrats P.C. Cast, you may have just won back one super upset reader.
And we’ve come to the end of the book! While Nyx in the House of Night is full of wonderful and enlightening chapters, most of the information wasn’t cited, no sources were listed, so readers have no way of knowing if what they’re reading is accurate. That was one big issue with this book. Nearly every other publication with this amount of information usually notes all of its sources and I expected the same from this book, because it has A LOT of info that it claims to be true, and as I stated above, some of it isn’t.
Overall, I rather enjoyed the book, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are a hardcore House of Night fan. If you haven’t read the series then obviously this book isn’t worth your time since you’ll be totally be lost. But if you have read House of Night and are curious as to what inspired much of the story then I’d get this book. Some of the chapters are complete duds, but others are absolutely amazing and are worth a read.
Nyx in the House of Night hits store shelves June 7, 2011.