House of Night Series Review: Untamed

House of Night series review banner Oh shit you guys, after three long goddamned years, it’s returned! It’s House of Night series review time!

Yeah, this has been on the backburner for literally years, and for a while, I considered just letting it go all together. But commenter Merriska asked about it in a Papercuts discussion a few months ago, and when I floated the idea of doing a House of Night month on Twitter, Fangs for the Fantasy & Maverynthia jumped on board, so here we are, kids! Four weeks, four House of Night books. Let’s hope nobody gets hurt.

The problem with the House of Night series is, as we found out as early as book two, is that the series isn’t just bad, it’s bad in the exact same way every book. There are only so many times you can say, “This is misogynistic” or “this is racist” or “this is homophobic” or “this is shitty goddamn writing”. The shittiness of House of Night is a universal constant, eternal and unchanging.

So I’m going to try to do this without being terribly repetitive, but even if I don’t harp on it as much, rest assured, all of the aforementioned issues are present and accounted for.

Untamed Review Life sucks when your friends are pissed at you.

Just ask Zoey Redbird – she’s become an undisputed expert on suckiness. In one week she has gone from having three boyfriends to having none, and from having a tight-knit group of friends who trusted and supported her, to being an outcast. And the worst part is, she knows it’s her own fault. Speaking of friends, the only two Zoey has left are undead, unMarked, and unable to stop bickering with each other. So who can blame her for befriending the House of Night’s newest transfer student, the majorly hot Olympic archer, James Stark?

Meanwhile, Neferet has declared a war on humans after it appears that the People of the Faith have murdered two vampyres. But Aphrodite’s latest visions show a world completely different from the High Priestess’s promises, a world full of violence, hatred, and darkness, all because of Zoey’s death—and the only way it seems she can prevent it from happening is to make things right with her friends. Zoey knows in her heart that fighting with humans is wrong. But will anyone listen to her? Zoey’s adventures at vampyre finishing school take a wild and dangerous turn as loyalties are tested, shocking true intentions come to light, and an ancient evil is awakened in PC and Kristin Cast’s spellbinding fourth House of Night novel.
So when we last left Zoey, Erik had mercilessly slut-shamed Zoey until her friends abandoned her, Loren had died, and Neferet was evilly declaring war against humans for those murders that she totally didn’t do. Untamed picks up like a day or two later, with Zoey sulking because her friends are angry at her for not telling them things I can’t be fucked to remember. I think it was about Stevie Rae? Also possibly Loren? Anyway, the vital part is that Zoey’s adrift with only Aphrodite as an ally, which makes her more vulnerable than usual, because of reasons. Luckily this lasts all of two seconds before Aphrodite bullies Zoey’s friends into not being mad at her anymore, because god forbid things have consequences.

Meanwhile, Shekinah, High Priestess and Only Other Black Vampire in the World Besides Shaunee, visits the campus. She’s described aaaaaabout the way you would expect.
Okay, I will admit that I peeked up from the head bow to get a look at the new vamp. She was tall and thin. Her skin was the color of rich, well-polished dark wood, and like mahogany, it was smooth and flawless, marred only by the intricate tattoo of her sapphire Mark, which was, incredibly, in the shape of the curving outline of the goddess figure all the vamp professors wore embroidered on their breast pockets. The female figures were mirrors of one another, their bodies stretched down her high cheekbones and along the side of her face. The inside arms were lifted, hands raised as if to cup the crescent in the middle of her forehead.
Oh my god, seriously though, how is Nyx not trolling with these facial tattoos? Congratulations, you’re a vampire, here’s a person tattooed on your cheek for the rest of your immortal fucking life. Love youuuuuu.
Her hair was impossibly long. It fell well past her waist, in a heavy length of shining black silk. She had large dark eyes that were shaped like almonds, a long, straight nose, and full lips. She held herself like a queen, with her chin up and her gaze steady as it swept over the room. It was only when that gaze stopped briefly on me and I felt its strength that I realized she was something I’d never seen in a vamp before then—she was old. Not that she was all wrinkled, like an old human would be. This vampyre looked like she might be in her forties, which translated to ancient for a vamp. But it wasn’t wrinkles and saggy skin that made her look old. It was a sense of age and dignity that she wore like a fine piece of expensive jewelry decorating her body.

“Merry meet.” She had an accent that I couldn’t place. It sounded Middle Eastern, but not. British, but not. Basically, it made her voice as rich as her skin. It filled the room.
A couple of things. A) We are othering this poor woman all over the place. Next thing you know Zoey’ll be babbling about how ~exotic~ she is-
[Shekinah] smiled at me and I was struck anew at her exotic beauty and the sense of age and wisdom that surrounded her.
Yep, there it is. Anyway, B) file another one under “ugly = evil”. There are three women in this book that would qualify as being “old”: Shekinah, Zoey’s grandmother, and Sister Mary Angela, and the book goes out of its way to comment on how lovely all of them are in spite of their age, wrinkle-free or aging gracefully, what have you. Like, I think the book might genuinely believe that we couldn’t like a character who wasn’t good-looking. It has such high opinions of us!

Anyway, Shekinah is there to put the kibosh on Neferet’s holy war, and insist that the human police be allowed to investigate those murders that she totally didn’t commit.
“Neferet, very little time has passed since these murders, and you haven’t given the humans even the opportunity to attempt to punish their own. Instead you instantly judge them all as dishonest. Not all humans are, despite your own personal history.”
#NotAllHumans

Zoey suggests that cop she worked with like two books ago that nobody remembers, and the matter is settled. Neferet is real pissed, and she stomps all around the place like a spoiled child, making it even more mystifying that anyone would believe she doesn’t have her own fucking agenda. But nah, nothing suspicious going on here, nope.

Meanwhile meanwhile, Zoey spends one night volunteering at at cat shelter run by some weirdly open-minded nuns.
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but don’t you think that all vampyres are doomed to hell because we worship a goddess?” I asked.

“Child, what I believe is that your Nyx is just another incarnation of our Blessed Mother, Mary. I also believe devoutly in Matthew 7:1, which says ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ “
This is honestly kind of hilarious. Given Cast’s history of editorializing the things people call her out on within the series itself, I would 100% not be surprised if this is here because people were upset with the way she portrayed Christians in the last three books. I mean jfc look at this:
“Too bad the People of Faith don’t believe like you do,” I said.

“Some do, child. Try not to paint them all with the same brush. Remember that the judge not goes both ways.”
Still, I have to admit that I thought it was cool that Sister Mary Angela — a woman who was supposed to be married to God — was so accepting of us. It made me wonder about if I really had been, to use some of the nun’s words, incorrectly painting all religious folks (except for Nyx’s religious folks) with the same brush. I don’t particularly like to admit when I’m wrong, especially since I seem to have had to do a lot of that kind of admitting lately, but these wimpled women had definitely given me something to think about.
“…Maybe it was supposed to look like a religious hate crime,” I said, thinking about the really nice nuns I’d just met who had definitely made me think twice about believing all Christians were narrow-minded jerks out to get anyone who believed differently.
Yes we get it, you done fucked up, Cast. As with most things, we don’t need these ideas repeated ad nauseum to grasp them, thanks.

Anyway, Zoey ostensibly works with this nun-run charity to “better integrate with the community” and get an opportunity to talk to Stevie Rae off school grounds, but mostly it’s so that Zoey can know these characters’ names when she summons and imposes her needs on them like two days later.

Seriously she’s met this particular nun, Mary Angela, once for like an hour before she fucking summons her to the hospital after her grandmother is injured in a car accident. Zoey doesn’t feel comfortable leaving her grandmother alone, so she calls this woman to babysit her unconscious body, and of course the nun does it, with a smile on her face, because Zoey is Zoey, and everyone loves, believes, and trusts Zoey implicitly, unless they’re the bad guys.

Meanwhile meanwhile meanwhile James fucking Stark, aka motivator number two for continuing with this project, rolls into town.
“No, no, no. You don’t get it. He’s the James Stark who is the best archer in the whole world! Don’t you remember reading about him online? He kicked butt in the track and field Summer Games this past year. Guys, he competed against grown vamps, actual Sons of Erebus, and he beat them all. He’s a star . . .” Jack ended on a dreamy sigh.
Stark is another speshul snowflake set up to join Zoey’s harem of complete tools, and since Cast has run out of elements, he gets the Goddess-given gift of infinite Patriot Arrows.

It’s the doinkiest fucking thing you guys, he can literally fire an arrow into the sky and it will Looney Toons its way right into whatever he’s thinking about, even if what he’s thinking about isn’t literally what he’s thinking about. Like, he tells this story about how he tried to hit “the heart of a tree”, meaning right in the dead center I guess, but instead he hits an owl, which according to some rando folklore he cites, was the true “heart of the tree”. It’s the most gloriously absurd fucking thing.

Stark comes complete with his own dark and tragic Falcon Story, which he spills to Zoey after knowing her for approximately twenty seconds. Thanks to his terrible, terrible curse of shooting really accurately, he accidentally killed his best friend/mentor in the Vampire Olympics, and now he refuses to ever participate in competitive archery ever again!

But! There’s a catch!

“That’s what I should do. I know it is. But if I don’t practice — if I stay away from shooting and try to forget about it— it’s like a part of me is being ripped away. I can feel something inside me dying.” He dropped his hand from mine and stepped back so that we weren’t touching any longer. “You should know this part of it, too; I’m really just a coward because I can’t stand that pain.”
YESSSSSSSSSSS. He has archery BLUE BALLS, you guys. Unf, if he can’t shoot it off, it just hurts him SO BAD! And he’s such a tragic, tormented figure, he can’t stand the pain of not shooting his arrows off, so he does it anyway, even though he feels real bad about it after.

In case you guys didn’t get it, he’s a real mysterious, tortured bad boy. No, really, see–
Utterly shocked, my eyes went back to Stark, who was still in his archer’s stance. And I realized what hot-guy scale he should be on: the Bad Boy Hot Scale.
In case you didn’t get that one, she says it three more times on the same page. I’ll spare you, but jfc WE GET IT. HELLO MY NAME IS BAD BOY. THANKS, CAN WE MOVE ON NOW?
“James Stark is the name of James Dean’s character in the old movie, Rebel Without a Cause. I knew his name sounded familiar, but I thought it was just because he’s so famous.”

[…]

“Huh,” I said. I had seen the movie—with Damien, of course—and I wondered if the name had been his before he’d been Marked. Or had he, like many kids, decided on a new name when his new life as a fledgling began. If so, that said something pretty interesting about his personality.
stark

stark-2

stark-3

DOES IT? DOES IT REALLY? I WOULD NEVER HAVE NOTICED IF YOU HADN’T STATED IT OUTRIGHT. SHOULD I JUST VISUALIZE JAMES DEAN IN THIS ROLL, PC CAST? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? MAYBE WE SHOULD HAVE JUST GONE WITH “STARK WALKS IN, HAS LOOKS AND PERSONALITY OF THIS ICONIC BAD BOY CHARACTER/ACTOR, THE END. MAN, THAT’S SOME GOOD WRITING, ME!”

Also, man, doesn’t naming yourself after a James Dean character just make you the coolest, most interesting guy ever? Definitely not a pretentious fucking poser, nope.
I stood there for a second watching him pick up his bow and walk back to where the quiver of arrows were sitting in their leather holder. Without looking at me again, he took an arrow from the quiver, sighted, and let it fly free to the exact center of the target again. Seriously, he was totally and completely mysterious and sexy.

Anyway, Stark spends approximately ten minutes confessing his Sady McSadface backstory to Zoey, before promptly dying in one of the most appallingly awful scenes in the series so far.

He starts vomiting up blood, and this, this is what we get:
“No! I don’t want this to happen now.” He paused, coughing up more blood that I kept wiping away. “I just found you—I don’t want to leave you so soon.”

OH NO I’M DYING, it’s so terrible! Not because I’m dying, but because I’m leaving YOUR magnificent presence, Zoey!

“I should have kissed more than your hand . . . thought I’d have more time,” he whispered between liquid, panting breaths. “. . . too late now.”

“It’s not too late,” I told him. I bent and pressed my lips to his. Stark’s arms went around me, still strong enough to hold me tight. My tears mixed with his blood, and the kiss was absolutely wonderful and terrible and over too soon.

Stark makes Zoey promise not to forget him, and to take care of his dog, and then he dies, and I’m just sitting there like:


How fucking horrifyingly narcissistic is this, to have this character come, meet the heroine briefly, and then spend his dying moments lamenting not getting to know her better? How horrifying is it to make this character’s last moments about how amazing the protagonist is? This fucking Zoey-centric world is a thing of nightmares. I imagine that Zoey is some sort of Haruhi Suzumiya god-like character who warps reality to suit her needs, and so this guy she thinks is hot spends his last moments on earth praising her beauty, while inside he’s screaming like “WHY AM I SAYING THESE THINGS? I DON’T KNOW YOU, I’M FUCKING DYING, PLEASE GET HELP!”

But nope, he dies, in the way that hot people that Zoey likes die, which is to say, he’ll come back soon enough. But in the meantime, Zoey spends the book mentally lamenting his loss, and that connection they TOTALLY ESTABLISHED ten minutes before he died.
It seemed ridiculous because I’d only known him for what was really only an instant in time, but I felt Stark’s absence like it was a hole in my heart. How could that be? How could I miss him so much when I hadn’t really known him? Or maybe I had known him—maybe there’s something that happens between some people at a level that goes beyond time measurements and what society thinks is proper.
YEAH, TAKE THAT, DOUBTERS. Sure, you might think it’s shitty writing that they only knew each other for ten minutes, but you know what? That’s YOUR FAULT for having ridiculous social expectations about relationships, like that people take TIME to get to know one another before they decide that they’re SOUL MATES. Which Zoey decides they are, by the way. She literally says that they might be soul mates.

This is the darkest fucking timeline for this world, you guys.

She spends the rest of the book eagerly anticipating his resurrection as a red fledgling, and his inevitable position as the fourth point on her Love Square, which has collapsed for the moment, but is back on the rise.

Speaking of vertices, Erik is back as a teacher in this installment, and in the one class that Zoey actually attends, they have a wildly inappropriate moment in which he literally gets hard choking Zoey, she’s super into it, and they make out in front of the entire class that he’s teaching.


We have to fucking talk about Zoey and her guys, because I just cannot stand the way this book handles that. So look, polyamory can be a thing, and I would almost be willing to- well, not praise, I could never praise House of Night, that’s just not a thing I can physically do- but I could give it a modicum of credit for giving Zoey the agency to sustain multiple romantic relationships at once.

EXCEPT for two things. A) oh jesus fucking Christ the double-standard slut-shaming, like how can you even justify that? No.

And B) Zoey pursues all of these guys simultaneously without being honest with them. She does it in this very book! She thinks about Stark constantly, before, during, and after his death. She thinks about how much she wants to date him, can’t wait to maybe pursue a thing between the two of them when he rises from the grave. But then she pursues Erik at the same time. Erik, who she KNOWS isn’t interested in sharing her with another guy, who broke up with her for that very reason. But she just cannot fucking stand the idea that Erik might exist on the campus without being in love with her, so she goes out of her way to try and patch things up, get him back into her and on her side, while also tapping her foot, looking at her watch, waiting for Stark to revive.

And you know what, I could even fucking deal with that if she and the book would just acknowledge how selfish she’s being. But it’s like when she’s thinking of one, the other doesn’t exist. NEVER THE TWO THOUGHTS SHALL MEET, NOPE.

Despite considering both dudes romantically several times each, she only addresses the potential conflict once:
Erik had sorta started to talk to me again. And, speaking of guys, I was even feeling hopeful about Stark undeading. This time a kid coming back from death would be witnessed by the vamp power of Shekinah. And I wasn’t going to worry about the possibility of being interested in two guys at the same time (again). Or at least not right now I wasn’t going to worry about that.
LOL NOPE, NOT GONNA THINK ABOUT IT, NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG. LATER GUYS!

I just really can’t handle Zoey’s love life, I can’t. I vaguely recall the later books going into some shit about how she, as a High Priestess, has multiple boy slots that she can fill, so they might all have the Talk at some point, I don’t remember. But she needs to do some goddamn self-reflection like ASAP, this shit is getting old.

Meanwhile^4, Aphrodite, human now but still psychic, has a vision about 100 pages from the end of the book that slaps down a new slab of plot that we’ve never even heard of before.
Ancient one sleeping, waiting to arise
When earth’s power bleeds sacred red
The mark strikes true; Queen Tsi Sgili will devise
He shall be washed from his entombing bed

Through the hand of the dead he is free
Terrible beauty, monstrous sight
Ruled again they shall be
Women shall kneel to his dark might

Kalona’s song sounds sweet
As we slaughter with cold heat
Better or worse than the prophecy from Beautiful Creatures? I mean, BC‘s was fucking stupid, but at least it was short. This terrible, hackish poetry goes on for three fucking stanzas. By the time I got to that last line, my eyes were bleeding.

But yes, this is our foreshadowing prophecy, revealed, again, 100 pages before the end of the book. Aphrodite transcribes it from her vision in Zoey’s grandmother’s handwriting, so naturally Zoey calls for a consult, and Cast proceeds to exploit the characters’ Cherokee heritage for that sweet, sweet Native American mysticism. Zoey’s grandmother exposits the (from what I can tell), completely made-up-for-House-of-Night tale of Kalona, a fallen angel rapist and father of the Raven Mockers, actual creatures from Cherokee legend, who are half-bird, half-man in exactly the way you don’t want.


It’s around this time that Untamed shoots for its most unexpected target – feminism. I almost shudder typing that word in this context, because it’s so fucking laughable. I mean jesus, do you guys remember the man-hating straw feminists following Aphrodite around in the first book? Remember how Zoey calls like every single woman in this book some variation of slut, whore, or skank, especially if they disagree with her? Remember how this book others, exotifies, or tokenizes every single one of it’s women of color? Remember how there was one line about goddess-worshipping lesbians and that’s it? Remember the fucking ridiculously rigid women-priestesses, men-warriors gender roles? And yet House of Night wants to play the “girl power” card by making its “villain” a rapist defeated by a group of Cherokee medicine women, and shooting off cheeky little lines about how Kalona will be shocked to find that “today’s women are not so easy to subdue”.

I mean first, fuck you hard for that bit of casual victim blaming apparently applicable to the entirety of history/anyone else who was “easy to subdue”. Even typing that, my blood fucking boils. I cannot handle how offhandedly cruel and insidious that statement is.

Second, just, like, no, man. It’s too late. We’re four books in, and this one hasn’t dispensed with any of its ugly misogyny, racism, homophobia, general hatefulness, or shitty world-building. You cannot salvage this story into one that’s woman-positive. It’s not fucking feminist if only one type of woman is deemed acceptable, and all others are shamed or erased. You can piss right fucking off with that shit.

Ugh, anyway, Kalona and the terrible prophecy: they don’t get it. Even with the help of Zoey’s grandmother and Damian-My-Other-Character-Trait-Is-That-I’m-Smart, they just can’t suss it out. We have to suffer through pages of this shit:
“Grandma called it a song,” I said.

“It’s not actually that, either. Or at least in my opinion it’s not.”

I had some major respect for Damien’s opinion, especially on anything vaguely academic, so I said, “If it’s not a poem or a song, what is it, then?”

“It’s a prophecy,” he said.

[…]

“Gloom and doom to come put in confusing what-the-fuck language. Yep, definitely a prophecy,” Erin said.

“Prophecy, like in Lord of the Rings about the return of the king?” Jack said.

Damien smiled at him. “Yes, just like that.”

Then they all looked my way. “Feels right to me,” I said lamely.

“All right. Let’s get to work deciphering it.” Damien studied the prophecy. “Okay, so, it’s written in an abab cdcd ee rhyme scheme, breaking it into three stanzas.”

“Is that important?” I asked. “I mean, we’re calling it a prophecy now instead of a poem, so do we care about that abab stuff?”

“Well, I’m not one hundred percent sure, but it is written in poetic form, so my best guess is that we should use poetic rules to decipher it.”

“Okay, sounds logical,” I said.

“Poetic stanzas are roughly synonymous to paragraphs in prose—each one being self-contained with its own subject, even though it has to fit together as a whole.”

“That’s my boy!” Jack said, grinning and hugging Duchess.

“Damn, the kid is smart,” Shaunee said.

“Seriously a brainyack,” Erin said.
I just, I just, I can’t. You guys, PC Cast doesn’t even think teenagers know what prophecies are. SHE HAS TO SPOON-FEED THE DEFINITION OF “PROPHECY” TO US. Oh, I didn’t know what you meant by prophecy, but- OH LIKE THE ONE IN LORD OF THE RINGS, YOU SAY? WELL NOW I GET IT.

And you know, every time they tell me that Damien is smart, I believe it even more. I believe things that books just tell me, you see. Doesn’t matter if the character’s demonstrated it or not, as long as you tell me, repeatedly, that a character is a specific thing, I’ll totally believe it. That’s just fucking A+ writing, I don’t know how you could have done that any better.

So the group attempts to interpret the prophecy to no avail, but hey, when all else fails, you know what’s there to move the plot along? The Irritable Bowel Goddess.

That’s right, Zoe’s Irritable Bowel Goddess (term coined by Fangs) is in full force, kicking in whenever Zoey has a stray thought that’s relevant to the plot Neferet has orchestrated.
Then the feeling hit me strong, hard, overwhelming—and I knew with my Goddess-given sixth sense that I shouldn’t be here by myself.
“That’s not true,” I said. “Nyx’s hand is still on you, Aphrodite. The Goddess is majorly at work here. If she didn’t care about you, she would have taken away your visions when she took away your Mark.” As I spoke, I got that feeling I often get when I absolutely know I’m saying the right thing.
And what Stevie Rae said clicked. I shivered in horror as my gut told me my terrible new thought was right. “Oh my god! That’s why Neferet did whatever she did to make the dying kids come back as undead dead kids. She wants to use them in the war she’s declared against humans.”
“Okay, I might be wrong, but what if Kalona is somehow reaching out from his grave or whatever you want to call it? He’s been there a long time. What if the earth that has been holding him is losing its grip? He’s an immortal. Maybe he can reach from where he is and get inside people’s brains. Nyx can do it. She can whisper things to us. What if he can, too?”

“Whisper! That’s what Nyx said—that Neferet was listening to the whispers of someone else.” I shivered at the thought and at the gut feeling that told me we were on to something.
I love that last one too, because if you reverse the order – Zoey remembers what Nyx said about whispering, someone suggests the whisperer might be Kalona – it actually almost makes sense. Instead, someone just vocalizes random speculation about this dude that none of them have ever heard of before and that they have limited background on, and it happens to be fucking right.

But I think what I love most about the whole ‘goddess communicating via the rumblies’ is this conversation:
“It’d be a lot safer if you just told me what I need to know and what I should do,” I said.

“As with all my children, you must find your own path, and through that discovery, you will decide what each earth child must ultimately decide—whether she chooses chaos or love.”
Nyx is like, “What, cut the crap and just tell you what’s happening? Nah, I’m just gonna bombard you with incomprehensible visions, and give you the farts anytime you’re around someone evil.”

Nyx is a fucking troll, you guys.

I mean, that’s the only possible explanation for why Zoey gets the farts whenever Neferet gets up to her bullshit, but Shekinah, the fucking Vampire Pope Priestess – you know, someone with the authority to actually do something about Neferet’s plan – doesn’t get shit.

That woman endured centuries of having a person tattooed on her face for you, Nyx, and you can’t even give her a heads-up about her impending death. Dick move, man.

It all culminates in an embarrassing mess of a climax that a baby could have seen coming. Love Square Vertice #4 (Stark) is resurrected from the dead to do the one thing that we’ve been told he can do: shoot shit. That’s literally the reason Neferet poached him from a rival House of Night. It’s not even a very difficult shot to pull off, I guess like nobody else could be trusted to hit the broad side of a barn.
Stark’s eyes blazed red and with the swiftness of a striking snake, he lifted the bow I hadn’t noticed he was holding at his side, sighted an arrow, and shot.
He also apparently carries an invisible bow. I mean, they’re not, like, small, inconspicuous things.


He shoots Stevie Rae, because that fulfills the prophecy by making the representative of the (element) earth bleed, which none of Zoey’s fucking walnuts managed to put together. Kalona rises, and Neferet instantly converts an entire campus full of goddess worshipers to hot-winged-rapist worshipers. She also kills the High Priestess of All Vampires without anyone noticing, bringing the number of black vampires in the world back down to one.

Despite being fucking stared at the entire time, Zoey manages to disappear from the fray via the use of elements, which I like to picture as Neferet fixing her eyes on Zoey, and then suddenly there’s a Zoey-shaped cloud of fog there instead, and Neferet’s like “FUCK, WHERE DID SHE GO?”

The Raven Mockers wreak havoc on the city, and Zoey guides a group of more than a dozen teenagers with stupid tattoos on their faces through downtown Tulsa on New Year’s Eve without being noticed, not because of plot convenience, but because Nyx goddamn willed it, thank you very much.
We moved out into what had become a city of living nightmare. I wondered later how we ever made it, and realized the answer even as I wondered. We made it because the guiding hand of Nyx was on us. We moved in her shadow. Covered with her power we became the night, even though the rest of the night had become madness.
Fuck you, it’s not a plot hole because I SAID IT WASN’T.

They hole up with Stevie Rae’s Red Fledglings, do a team cheer, and Zoey levels up.
And as they all yelled dorkishly after me, I felt an awesome tingle spread from my fingertips to cover the palms of my hands, and I knew when I pulled them out of the hand pile I’d find brand-new intricate tattoos decorating each of my palms, like I was an exotic ancient priestess who had been henna-Marked as special by her Goddess.
Over 70% of Zoey’s body now looks like someone spray painted her through a doily.

And that’s it. The end.

So obviously there’s a lot going on here. I guess you could say that Untamed is technically one of the better House of Night books purely by virtue of the fact that something relevant actually happens in it. Untamed moves the series plot forward in one giant, awkward lurch, making it one of like four House of Night books you actually have to read to keep abreast with what’s going on.

At the same time, this installment feels very transitional, and not much like a complete story in itself. There’s a lot of abrupt set-up for things that are meant to occur later, particularly in the next book, Hunted. The introductions of Stark, the Benedictine nuns, and the prophecy are clumsy and clunky, and feel like last-minute additions that should have been set up books ago in order to pay off the way that Untamed wanted them to. I am actually genuinely curious to know how much of the series Cast had planned out in advance, because right now, this whole book feels like a last-minute swerve.

But even with plot-related happenings, this is still a House of Night book, and it is still garbage. It’s hateful, it’s terribly written, lazily plotted, and the characters are all monstrous in ways the narrative refuses to acknowledge.

I go through like a complete emotional cycle every time I read one of these things: first it’s so bad it’s painful, then you get used to the pain, and it’s kind of enjoyably awful. But by the halfway mark you’re wallowing in mind-numbing despair at how many fucking brain cells you’re losing with every word you read, and once you finally make it to the end, you’ve been begging for death for pages, just wanting it to be over.

Then you look up and realize that the end isn’t even close.

no stars

House of Night list

TOMORROW: QUOTESPAM!


 

12 Responses

  1. Haley

    December 9, 2015 1:39 pm, Reply

    What’s even worse about the Kalona thing is that the way she tells it makes it sound, and where they trap Kalona, makes it clear that this took place in Oklahoma, when the Cherokee are actually from Florida. So all this ancient bullshit had to have taken place after the Trail of Tears, making it roughly two hundred years old. Ancient and magical that is not.

    • Cyna Cyna

      December 10, 2015 10:51 pm, Reply

      Oh my god. Oh my god are you kidding me? That hadn’t even occurred to me because I assumed Cast at least had basic fucking knowledge about the history of the tribe she was pilfering from jesus fucking christ what a hack. They say straight-up in Hunted that it was “a thousand years ago”. Wow. What a complete and utter failure.

      • ZeldaQueen

        December 13, 2015 11:08 pm, Reply

        The backstory is one big example of throwing mythology in a blender and hacking it up. Off the top of my head:

        There’s no reason a Greek goddess would have an angel as a bodyguard (why does Nyx need a bodyguard at all? Or why not a woman one, if she’s supposed to support a matriarchy?) We also later learn that his brother is Erebus, who in real mythology is the Greek deity believed to personify darkness (and is Nyx’s brother, er…)

        Sister Mary Angela calls Kalona a “nephilim”, if I recall. That’s seriously incorrect. Nephilim were the half-human children of angels. His KIDS would be nephilim, not him. Which reminds me…

        Raven mockers aren’t half-human hybrids and definitely aren’t the children of fallen angels. They were believed to be malevolent spirits who robbed people of their lives and looked like wizened old men and women.

        The Cast ladies misspelled “ghigua”, from what I can see. Wikipedia has it as “ghigau”, which, as per the article, “The title was a recognition of great honor for women who made a significant impact within their community or exhibited great heroism on the battlefield. When a woman was bestowed as a Ghigau she was given great honor and responsibility”. The last Cherokee woman to receive the title was Nancy Ward, who earned it in 1755. So no, they would not have been a group of stereotypical wise women, sitting around a camp fire.

        Also, as far as I can tell, the whole story of A-ya is made-up bullhonkey. It doesn’t even make much sense. We learn that A-ya was created to lure Kalona into the earth… but she was also made to love him, and her spirit continues to do so through time and space? WHY? If she was made to run away from him, shouldn’t she be repulsed by him?

  2. RayneofCastamere

    December 9, 2015 7:54 pm, Reply

    Drinking game: every time the word “exotic” shows up, take a shot. Or don’t, if you don’t have a liver donor on standby.

    • Cyna Cyna

      December 10, 2015 10:54 pm, Reply

      You could get good and dead drunk from House of Night in about ninety different ways. Hunted has the same character being called a ‘bitch’ three times in the same couple of pages. You’d get schnockered in one chapter.

  3. Fangs 4 the Fantasy (@Fangs4Fantasy)

    December 9, 2015 8:04 pm, Reply

    ZOMG I think you’ve hit the truth! NYX IS A TROLL!

    thing about it – look at Stark’s ludicrous archery power that will randomly kill ANYTHING through convoluted word games. Think of the tattoos. Think of the person she’s chosen to be her Chosen One! The prophecy, the pages to work it out – troll troll!

    The irritable Bowel Goddess is totally trolling the world!

  4. Azure

    December 13, 2015 3:19 pm, Reply

    The only series I think could pull of facial tattoos is Digital Devil Saga and that’s because the tattoos had meaning and allowed the characters to use their powers; plus, there was only two, three people with them. Here, the facial tattoos look ridiculous since they have no meaning beyond looking pretty.

    I think Nyx is the real villain of the series since she could just take Neferret’s powers away or tell her priestess (that aren’t Zoey) that Neferret is evil. Nyx is pulling a long gambit to have her be the one true religion in this world and Zoey is just her unwitting pawn.

    Stark suffers from what I like to call ‘Hot Guy Syndrome’. It’s when a guy has whatever personality he could’ve had erased by his looks and now exists to solely be objectified. That’s why there are no unattractive males in this series-they’re all immune to HGS.

    • ZeldaQueen

      December 13, 2015 10:53 pm, Reply

      “I think Nyx is the real villain of the series since she could just take Neferret’s powers away or tell her priestess (that aren’t Zoey) that Neferret is evil. Nyx is pulling a long gambit to have her be the one true religion in this world and Zoey is just her unwitting pawn.”

      Considering that every Good Character accepts Nyx as the One True Goddess without question, whether or not they’ve heard of her (whereas all the Bad Characters either hate Nyx or worship other deities, imagine), that very well might be the case.

      Actually, considering how the vampires reacted to Neferet’s actions at the end of Neferet’s Curse, I’m of the opinion that Neferet killing them off and establishing herself as their evil overlord would be a fine case of hubris for them, the idiots.

  5. dragonslayingprincess

    December 17, 2016 1:52 pm, Reply

    Wait, so Stark’s meant to be a talented Archer who worked really hard to improve his game… so Nyx decided to give him a power that COMPLETELY NEGATES HIS ARCHERY SKILL BY MAKING ANY INPUT FROM HIM IRRELEVANT.

    Seriously, if he accidentally killed someone and MISSED HIS TARGET (however he phrased it, his intent and target was clearly the centre of the tree, so regardless of some mythological bullshit, Nyx’s powers made him MISS!), Nyx has made his abilities LESS reliable, and because all input from him is irrelevant because he could aim at the floor and still hit his mark, she has essentially ensured that he can never use his archery skills again…

    Nyx is a troll.

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