Marked: House of Night, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Marked: House of Night, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Vampire series start is more gossipy than gory.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 38 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 108 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Zoey is a positive character who rejects a boyfriend because he drinks heavily. She then works to take down school bullies by taking the high road. But Zoey also looks down on her stepfather's religious group, the People of Faith, calling them narrow-minded, while embracing the vampire rituals of goddess worship. She combines these with rituals from her Cherokee heritage.


If fledging vampires don't adapt to the Change, they're told that they die suddenly -- two students are hauled away under those circumstances. Zoey falls and gashes open her head. Some vampire bloodletting and drinking of blood. Brief allusion to father-daughter sexual abuse. Mention of Amazon women cutting off their right breasts.


Teen kissing, some passionate. Zoey says her older sister has "screwed half the football team." A girl gives a guy oral sex in the hallway, barely described but often referred to. Sexy dancing at ceremonies.


"F--k," and "f--king bitch" are the worst offenders. "Hell" is said the most often. Plus "s--t," "bulls--t," "ho," and "ass."


Lots of name-dropping of all kinds. Clothing stores, cereal brands (especial Count Chocula), VW Bug, video game Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, celebs (Ashton Kutcher, Leonardo DiCaprio, Paris Hilton), movies (French Kiss, Star Wars), TV shows (MTV's The Real World, America's Next Top Model, Star Trek, That '70s Show), top country singers, Gossip Girl books, soda brands, and some labels (Steve Madden shoes, Maui Jim sunglasses).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Scenes of regular high school students drunk and smoking pot; this is looked upon unfavorably by the main character. Wine served with dinner and in goddess ceremonies. Pot is mixed with incense in one ceremony.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the violence is much milder here than in other vampire books -- two teens are presumed dead, but it's barely described. There's some swearing (including "f--k"), teen use of alcohol and pot (looked upon unfavorably by the main character), and a teen receiving oral sex in the dorm hallway -- it's barely described but often referred to. Some readers may dislike the way the main character and all her teen fledgling vampire friends embrace goddess worship and participate in a number of well-described ceremonies. This worship is contrasted with the church the main character's stepfather belongs to -- the fictitious, fundamentalist-sounding People of Faith, whom she believes are narrow minded.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bystephen.king June 9, 2019

It's good for older kids

I personally have read the book and I love the story, but I find that some scenes are too mature for some kids. I was originally going to set "I think it... Continue reading
Adult Written byNfrance November 30, 2011

Too much sexual content.

I read this book about a year and a half ago when I was 21 and some of the content actually made me blush. I don't believe this appropriate for a young im... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byBookreviews July 26, 2020
Teen, 14 years old Written byCharissa Rivers June 4, 2020

Age 14+

I personally think 14+ although i read the first boom when I was 13 i think that due to a load of bad language and sexual content and a bit of gore . Definately... Continue reading

What's the story?

Zoey, a very regular high school student, is visited in the hall one day by a vampire tracker and marked with a crescent moon -- the sign that she needs to report to the fledgling teen vampire school, called House of Night. Her parents reject the idea, so she runs to her Cherokee grandmother for guidance, only to have a vision of the Goddess Nyx telling her that she has a special purpose at the school. When she arrives at House of Night, it's only too obvious that some cruel forces are at work -- the head of the sorority-like Dark Daughters, Aphrodite, proves to be a powerful and devious adversary -- but Zoey discovers extra abilities from the goddess to fight her rule over the school.

Is it any good?

Written by a fantasy writer and her college-age daughter, this definitely feels more like a fun mother-daughter project than serious sci-fi. There's more gossiping and bad-girl behavior than bloody fangs and supernatural creature battles. In fact, the transition from talking smack about the school bully to casting a circle of elements for goddess worship can get pretty jarring. The authors try too hard to please both the Gossip Girl crowd and Twilighters. There's even a hot older love interest -- a vampire who's also a famous actor (take that, Edward!).

With the vampire training school setting, the authors are also going for Harry Potter grads. But the descriptions of classes aren't nearly as fun, and the pace slows as every hall break and class direction is described. But as the main character gets more comfortable with her powers and the story focuses on a few mysteries at the school, readers will feel more engaged. Plus, the most intriguing mystery is left for the next book in the series. For vampire fans, here's hoping that one's more of a page-turner.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the occult aspects of this book, discussing their beliefs on the subject. Do you think Zoey could have been another religion and still joined the school, or do goddess worship and vampirism have to go hand in hand in this book? How do you think this vampire series compares to others -- like the Twilight Saga? Which version of vampire lore do you prefer? Why?

Book details

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