A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Loved: House of Night Other World, Book 1 is the first in a spin-off series launched 10 years after the first House of Night novel, Marked. Readers get a character refresher in a quick foreword, but overall it helps to have read the previous series before delving into this one. This continues to be for high school and up with mature content across the board: heavy swearing, substance abuse, the tackling of depression and loss, sex between straight characters and LGBTQ characters (though not well described), and, oh yeah, the zombie-vampires. Get ready for some cannibalism, torn limbs from live bodies, the works. It feels more horror movie than intense visceral experience, but there's still cannibalism involved. Besides zombie violence, there's a drug overdose and suicide by threatening law enforcement.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In LOVED, it's almost High Priestess Zoey Redbird's birthday when the visions and prophecies start rolling in. First Zoey is told to find the imprisoned Neferet's childhood diary to avoid coming danger, then her friend Aphrodite gets a vision of a zombie apocalypse starting in the park where Neferet lies entombed. Luckily, all her friends are coming for what's now a spoiled surprise party, so they can cast a circle of protection in the park. When they're almost finished, Aphrodite's highly suspicious mother interrupts the ceremony and the zombies are upon them all, eating any human they can get their hands on. But they're not just any zombies. They appear to be a form of vampire soldier, and some look very familiar. Damien's sure that his boyfriend, Jack, is there, and Zoey sees someone who looks exactly like her brother. Zoey needs to protect Tulsa, but she needs answers, too. Because Jack is supposed to be dead, and her brother already exists in this world, and not as a cannibalistic vampire.
Is it any good?
Usually when a story features zombies, you expect action and gore, but with an excess of chummy chit-chat, this spin-off comes off as a teen vampire reunion instead. There's a vampire reunion with characters readers know from the first House of Night series (the "Nerd Herd") having lengthy meet-and-greets in the cafeteria before their issues pop up and need to be dealt with, like pill and drug abuse and depression. The zombie apocalypse almost gets lost in the shuffle. Paring down the often too-cutesy dialogue ("awesome-sauce" comes up often) would lend more gravitas to what should be big revelations about parallel worlds and family ties. This mother-daughter writing team may just be having too much fun with characters they've missed writing about, but at the expense of taut and exciting storytelling. And with zombies in the mix, how hard can it really be?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the zombie vampires in Loved. Were their feeding frenzies jarring or were they over-the-top enough to make you think of the silliness of old horror films? When does it cross the line one way or the other?
What does Aphrodite learn about herself? How did her addiction alter her personality?
Will you read Book 2 in this series? Why or why not?
- Authors: P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
- Publication date: July 11, 2017
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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