We pick up in the immediate aftermath of the previous book. Quick recap:
- Zoey’s friends find out she’s been keeping secrets, and now they’re very mad.
- Stevie Rae might be herself again because she drank Aphrodite’s blood.
- Aphrodite might be human! She runs away, and Stevie Rae chases after her.
House of Night Untamed Chapter 1:
Before picking this book up, I ventured a guess that it would open with one of Zoey’s famously unnecessary asides. Because I’ve developed a thorough understanding of Zoey’s innermost thoughts, I’m right:
The caw! caw! cawing! of one stupid crow kept me up all night. (Well, more accurately, all day—’cause, you know, I’m a vampyre fledgling and we have that whole issue of day and night being turned around.)
Please just assume we understand that vampyres sleep during the day. I’m not sure who would be reading this book that doesn’t possess at least basic vampyre knowledge.
But my crappy nonsleep is currently the easiest thing to deal with since life really sucks when your friends are pissed at you. I should know. I’m Zoey Redbird, currently the undisputed Queen of Making My Friends Pissed Land.
Zoey’s conflict with her friends should be fodder for genuine emotion, so why does every line in Zoey’s head have to read like it’s a bad voice-over from a C+ teen comedy? It’s hard to take Zoey’s pain seriously. If we’re privy to what’s going on in her head, it shouldn’t always feel like a performance.
I’m not saying she can’t have any sarcastic thoughts or try to put a more cheerful spin on her pain. However, ‘Queen of Making My Friends Pissed Land’ isn’t particularly clever, so why not just let Zoey feel something real?
Persephone, the big sorrel mare who I could consider mine for as long as I lived at the House of Night, craned her head around and nuzzled my cheek […] Grooming Persephone always helped me think and made me feel better.
We’ve been with Zoey nonstop since she got here. I don’t recall pensive moments of horse-grooming. When is this even meant to be taking place? Between realisations that Damien is gay and that Stevie Rae is (formerly) undead?
Friendless Zoey recaps the plot to her horse, expositing that it’s been two days and she still hasn’t talked to her friends. They’re in the cafeteria now, but she’s too scared to sit with them.
She tells Persephone that some of her secrets were for the good of her friends, but some were for her own good. It’s a lot for one horse to consider.
Courageously, Zoey decides that it’s time to talk to everyone. This is terrible news! I thought maybe we’d get to enjoy a couple of chapters without these characters.
En route, she catches her reflection in a mirror and of course recaps everything about being a vampyre and the House of Night! Please stop telling me about all your new tattoos. I don’t understand why that’s a thing that Nyx does, but who am I to question a great goddess that has impeccable choice in heroines?
“Well, yesterday you had not one, but three boyfriends,” I told the me with the dark eyes and cynical half smile that was reflected in the glass. “But you fixed that, didn’t you? Today not only do you have zero boyfriends, but no one will ever trust you again for at least, I dunno, a gazillion years or so.”
Or try a few chapters. I’m personally grateful that Zoey’s boyfriend count has been reset to zero. All of her boyfriends were dreadful! I don’t like Zoey, but I like her even less when she’s obsessing over three bad choices.
Outside, Zoey has a creepy experience. She feels like things are flapping around her in the darkness, but nothing is there:
My fingers passed through nothingness, but it was frigid nothingness, and an icy pain sliced through my hand. Completely freaked out, I yelped and hugged my hand to my chest. […] The flapping was getting louder and the cold more intense when I finally managed to move. Ducking my head, I did the only thing I could think to do. I ran for the nearest door to the school
That seems like the right call. I myself have never been in a mysterious and Hitchcock-y situation such as this, but I would also have tried to get indoors.
Almost without realizing what I was doing, I whispered, “Fire, come to me. I need your warmth.”
Hm. Okay. If I had an affinity for all the elements, I guess I too would summon at least one of them. I’m doubtful that warmth is what’s needed in this situation, though. Magical light to combat the magical darkness? Yeah, sure, a flashlight can’t help you there (UNLESS IT WAS A MAGICAL FLASHLIGHT???). But if a warm sweater could be as effective as fire in this situation, I’m not sure we’re using this element to its full potential.
It works! The night goes back to normal thanks to fire. Zoey checks her hand:
I rubbed at the angry-looking marks, which stung like a curling iron burn.
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 should have been abundantly clear on its own. I think maybe Zoey is getting over-reliant on this sixth sense and can’t develop basic understandings of situations by herself anymore.
For a fleeting moment, Zoey wishes she were normal and like all the other teens at her school. This is quickly brushed aside as all the elements comfort Zoey. Remembering how special she is gives Zoey the strength she needs to go into the cafeteria. Cafeterias are such tumultuous, overwhelming places. It probably would be swell to have all these elements show up out of nowhere to help guide you through.
Zoey sits down with her friends:
“So, what’s up?” I directed the question at Damien, knowing that my gay friend was naturally the weakest link in the don’t-talk-to-Zoey chain.
Sadly, it was the Twins who answered me and not gay, and therefore more sensitive and polite, Damien.
Can you imagine why these people wouldn’t want to talk to Zoey? She knows exactly who they are and what they’re all about, and not just in a superficial way. I mean, really, her keen observations should make them all feel so cherished.
“Not shit, right, Twin?” said Shaunee.
“That’s right, Twin, not shit. ‘Cause we can’t be trusted to know shit,” Erin said.
“Twin, did you know we’re totally untrustworthy?”
“Not until recently I didn’t, Twin. You?” Shaunee said.
“Didn’t know till recently either,” Erin finished.
Slowly raises hand I knew. We have only seen evidence that these two are complete blabber mouths. I wouldn’t trust them with a secret of the lowest caliber, let alone any of the things Zoey was keeping from them.
Rather than, I don’t know, feeling sad and hurt by their reaction, Zoey seizes on this opportunity to remind us the twins aren’t actually twins. JUST AS NORMAL HUMANS ARE APT TO DO. Then she responds in a way that confuses me deeply:
“Thank you for that lovely commentary. And now I’ll try asking someone who doesn’t have to answer in a stereo version of hateful Gossip Girl Blair.” I turned my attention away from them and looked directly at Damien, even though I could hear the Twins sucking air and getting ready to say something I was hoping they would one day regret.
I only quote the above in the hopes that someone can explain to me what “answer in a stereo version of hateful Gossip Girl Blair means.” I am familiar with the show, I am familiar with Blair. But what does the rest of the sentence mean and also why is it here? In this book? In existence?
“So, I guess what I really wanted to ask when I said ‘what’s up’ is if you’ve noticed any scary, ghostlike, flappy weirdness outside lately. Have you?”
Damien’s a tall, really cute guy with excellent bone structure whose brown eyes were usually warm and expressive but were, at this moment, wary and more than a little cold. “A flappy ghost thing?” he said. “Sorry, I have no clue what you’re talking about.”
I’m glad that we were reminded of Damien’s looks before he answered. Don’t you feel it added a lot of weight to his response? Because now when you hear his cold words in your head, you know that in addition to being gay, he’s tall and has excellent bone structure.
By the way, I could just read his response to Zoey over and over again. It resonates so much with me.
The welt that Zoey had seen on her hand earlier is now gone. Inconvenient timing, welt! Now how will Zoey earn her friends’ trust back?
Jack shows up, and he’s just as annoying as everyone else in the group. It’s just amazing how seamlessly he fits in. I hate him as though I’ve hated him since the very beginning.
“Hi, Jack,” I said, smiling at him. Jack and Damien are together. Hello. They’re gay. My friends and I, along with anyone who’s not narrow-minded and utterly judgmental, are cool with that.
I think Zoey has clearly demonstrated that how open-minded and utterly non-judgemental she is this chapter.
Praise the lord, the chapter ends with the return of Aphrodite. Earlier I said I hoped we’d get some time without the twins/Damien/Jack (I hate Jack the most, I think), but I never ever, not even for a second, wanted Aphrodite to be out of the picture. I know she’s already on her way to being sanitised, but I still care for her the most.
Aphrodite twitched into the room [‘Twitched’ into the room????], laughing while she batted her eyes at Darius, one of the youngest and hottest of the Sons of Erebus Warriors who protected the House of Night, and did an excellent hair flip. The girl always had been good at multitasking [This is relevant how?], but I was totally shocked at how nonchalant and utterly cool and collected she looked.
SO IS SHE HUMAN OR NOT??? Find out tomorrow!