The YA book series House of Night comes to comics, and here's a look at the upcoming hardcover collection of the first five issues!
Credits & Solicit Info:
HOUSE OF NIGHT (HARDCOVER COLLECTION)
Writer: P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast, Kent Dalian
Penciller: Joëlle Jones, Karl Kerschl, Joshua Covey, Daniel Krall, Jonathan Case, Eric Canete
Colorist: Daniel Krall, Jonathan Case, Eric Canete, Ryan Hill, Dan Jackson
Cover Artist: Steve Morris
If there's one thing we've learned about teenagers from comics, it's that they're always going to have to deal with a lot of crap. Maybe too much. More than any adults they come in contact with, anyway.
It's a paradigm that's been prevalent in comics since Spider-Man, so it makes sense that PC and Kristin Cast would bring their House of Night series of teen/YA novels to comics. Collecting issues 1-5 of Dark Horse's series of the same name, this handsome hardcover takes place between the first two books of the hit series, detailing the way its protagonist wrestles with the journey she's destined to take. Zoey Redbird, a teenager who faces discrimination due to her Native American heritage, but also because she's a vampyre. In the world of House of Night, vampyres live amongst regular humans, but are considered to be spawns of Satan and have to deal with being hated by the vast majority of people. Zoey attends the titular boarding school for vampire teenagers, where she learns all about the vampyre goddess Nyx, while navigating the complicated politics of high school.
The religious fables of House of Night are an intriguing blend of vampire fiction and something approaching Wicca. They also remix the traditional folklore of various cultures through that lens, positting major female figures in Norse, Celtic, Greek, and Egyptian mythology and history as vampires who affected the course of human history while setting a precedent for acceptance of vampires. Each issue collected covers a different element necessary for understanding vampyre theology, with a parable corresponding to each element. Each story imparts some lesson onto Zoey that she needs to learn in order to become prepared to lead something called the Daughters of the Dark (what that is is left pretty vague).
House of Night frankly knows what it's trying to do, and it does that well. Aimed primarily at a female, teenage audience (a demographic so often ignored by comics), this is a book that seems to follow the YA template very closely, almost to the point of being constrained by it. It has all the requisite elements: a young protagonist with some kind of magical destiny that threatens to overwhelm her, but who learns to overcome with the help of a supportive group of friends who also aid in all the other teenage issues that crop up for any person that age. The troubles of adolescence are potent and relentless, and Zoey as a character is appropriately curious and her growth throughout the story is well-observed. The mythology of the book is the most interesting aspect of the storytelling; giving a vampiric bent to well-known folklore is a clever way to draw out the world of House of Night, and this tact succeeds in reflecting the protagonists' lives and making them relatable to a teenage audience (warning: the second story is pretty brutal, and may be too much for younger readers).
Artwise, there's a lot of talent in this book. Each mythological parable is drawn by a different artist, and all of them have a similar enough art style that the change in artist never feels jarring. Still, they each bring some idiosyncracy in their stories that really increases the liveliness of the story being told. Jonathan Case and Eric Canete really stand out, but this is a great looking book from front to back. The colors are vibrant, and the sequential storytelling really works.
As supplementary material to the main venture, that being the series of prose House of Night novels, this collection works by deepening the theology of that world. The characters and situations may feel very familiar to YA fans who haven't sampled the franchise before, but the parables are the main draw of this story. That being the case, it's a strong mythology that adds context and succeeds in giving fans of the series what they're looking for.
Review by: Royal Nonesuch