ADVANCE REVIEW! House of Night #1 will come out on Wendesday, November 9, 2011.
Here is a test. See if you can read this without vomiting:
"This spellbinding new book series follows fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird as she enters the mysterious House of Night school, gains astonishing powers and searches for eternal love."
How did you do? Any vomit? Because if you are anything other than a pre-teen girl with a wall covered in Justin Bieber posters and a serious opinion about Team Edward/Team Jacob, then that sentence should at least evoke a little bile. If not, you frighten me. And that is your barrier of entry to see if you can enjoy the drivel that is House of Night.
Just recounting the plot is painful. Zoey Redbird goes to vampyre school. (Yes, that’s right. Vampyre school. Like Harry Potter.) There she learns all the special vampyre rules, like to avoid the sunlight and only to drink blood with consent (there comes that vomit again). But even amongst special people like vampyres, Zoey Redbird is special. But not in a shortbus way. You see, Zoey Redbird is the chosen one, who has a mark on her forehead that everyone can see and she is already famous before even coming to the House of Night vampyre school (seems like I have heard this plot before…) Zoe is the only new vampyre girl to have her full vampyre tattoos, and all the other vampire girls are jealous and mean to her (Just like Mean Girls!).
So there you have it. House of Night is Twilight mixed with Harry Potter mixed with Mean Girls. And somehow I suspect that is exactly how it was sold in its pitch meeting to the publisher who then went giddy seeing dollar signs. More neutered vampires being sold as romance to girls too young to know what sex is.
Look, I get it OK. I am soooooooooooooooo not the target audience for this. I am probably three times the age of the target audience, and entirely the wrong gender. And props to Dark Horse for reaching out to that target audience. Apparently, the original novel for House of Night sold Five. Million. Copies. Seriously, five million. And if Dark Horse can get even a tiny percentage of those five million little girls to pick up a comic book, then that is awesome.
And the art? Well, Jones and Kerschl do a decent job. It has a sort of weird style of slightly too large heads on slightly too small bodies, but if the Bratz figures are any indication, that’s what little girls are into nowadays. Some of the scenes are quite well done. There is a very cool Norway interlude that is better than anything involving Zoey Redbird. The colors are nice as well, and the series is pretty. It gets another bullet for that alone.
But unless you are one of those five million pre-teen girls, or have a pre-teen girl in your home you want to give a comic book to, stay the hell away from House of Night.
Zack Davisson is a freelance writer and life-long comics fan. He owned a comic shop in Seattle during the '90s, during which time he had the glorious (and unpaid) gig as pop-culture expert for NPR. He has lived in three countries, has degrees in Fine Art and Japanese Studies, and has been a contributing writer to magazines like Japanzine and Kansai Time-Out. He currently lives in Seattle, WA with his wife Miyuki. You can catch more of Zack’s reviews on his blog Japan Reviewed or read his translations of Japanese ghost stories on Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai.