Blogtober (#18) | House of Night Reread: Untamed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

6:30 AM

Now that I've really gotten into the groove of rereading House of Night, I'm seriously flying through the series! Although my thoughts about it have changed a lot in the years since I first read it/it was published, I'm still really enjoying this reread and Untamed is probably my favourite yet. I think I've said this about every book in my reread but I think that is just a nod to the fact that House of Night kept getting better and better with time.

Honestly it's just so indulgent. I feel like I am back in high school. Not necessarily in a bad way, either. It's just something about the crisp autumn air and the familiar comfort of an old favourite, you know? It takes you back to another time and place and honestly, it's exactly what I needed. I can't believe I'm already on book four (although, to be honest, by the time this goes live, I'll be starting book seven.)

So, let's just dive on in!

Apologies in advance for any spelling and grammatical errors with this post! They're probably worse than usual because (a) I am sick and (b) my keyboard is being a pain and still sticking with certain keys so sometimes specific letters just don't work. I swear, I'm going to get it fixed soon! 

Life sucks when your friends are pissed at you. Just ask Zoey Redbird – she's become an expert on suckiness. In one week she has gone from having three boyfriends to having none, and from having a close group of friends who trusted and supported her, to being an outcast. Speaking of friends, the only two Zoey has left are undead and unMarked. And Neferet has declared war on humans, which Zoey knows in her heart is wrong. But will anyone listen to her? Zoey's adventures at vampyre finishing school take a wild and dangerous turn as loyalties are tested, shocking true intentions come to light, and an ancient evil is awakened in PC and Kristin Cast's spellbinding fourth House of Night novel.

As with most of the series, I originally gave Untamed a five star rating. Quelle surprise. I was so in love with it. I mean, I remember that a lot of great plot-twists and introductions, and new evils and more mythology, were sprinkled within the pages of Untamed. I know there was a lot of drama, too, but I felt like this one really set the stage for the big bad and put a good emphasize on the strength of friendships and family.

House of Night always was at its strongest when it focused on the mythology, the world-building and the way that the characters connected. I think this was the part of the series, too, where I started to go online on message boards for the series and listen to fans argue about who should play who if the novels were ever adapted.

Side note: I remember there was an argument because one of the authors said they pictured someone famous playing one of the characters and everyone was like NOPE, no way, no chance, nuh-uh. Well. Everyone except for me and Becca, because we loved the celebrity that they mentioned but it was apparently the cool thing to hate said celebrity. I won't name names.

Weirdly, my review for this one was super incoherent (moreso than usual) and I mainly just babbled on and on about how this was my favourite cover design of the first four books. WHY WAS I LIKE THIS? But, also, true. I mean, come on--just look at it!

To this day, I love the cover art for Untamed and it is probably still one of my favourites of the series. Not sure why, because I don't normally like cover art with people, but it's just absolutely aesthetically pleasing to me. That being said, I am not entirely sure what possessed me to write out a review that was basically 98% me complimenting the cover art. Although, if you think about it, it's kind of on brand for me?

My old review's points were kind of muddled together and overpowered by the fawning over the cover. I guess you could say my love of it was untamed. (Oh, good, even sick Jessica makes really dumb dad jokes. Nice, nice.) Still, we're going to try and sort out the finer points. 

As always, I was riding SO HARD for the Zoey and Aphrodite friendship that had only grown. I will forever adore them. I also will forever adore Zoey and Stevie Rae's friendship. And Stevie Rae and Aphrodite's reluctant friendship. AND THE NERD-HERD. AND OKAY, FINE, ALL OF THE HON FRIENDSHIPS APPARENTLY. Don't look at me. I mean, I wanted to kick the Nerd Herd and Erik a few dozen times over, for obvious reasons, but things could have been worse.

It was good to see Zoey having to deal with the consequences of her behavior in the previous book. Although, frankly, it wasn't entirely her fault, and I wish her friends had been more understanding. I'm always on the fence about it because on one hand, she definitely screwed up in several massive ways, but her friends should have been a bit more understanding.

At the same time, they'd only been around each other for a few months so it makes sense that it made such a bad impact on their relationship for a minute. That being said, Erik is absolutely the worst and I'm standing by this thought. I was totally team Erik back in the day but even I thought he was an insufferable jerk throughout Untamed.

While the series didn't necessarily need more characters (let alone more love interests for Zoey) I was pretty hyped about the arrival of Stark... until he died. The good news is, he brought a dog with him and Jack got to be a cute little puppy WITH AN ACTUAL PUPPY.

After the wild ride that was Chosen, Untamed was a fantastic follow-up in my eyes back then. I loved how the dynamics were at a low-point in many cases, but an even higher point for others. There was such a bleak, unsettling tone to it, too, because you could feel this impending doom but you weren't sure when it was going to strike you down. Until it did... and Kalona came into the picture. 


Good news! I actually really, really adored this book. I know that my House of Night reread has been a bit of a miss in terms of star ratings, but Untamed totally just saved the entire series and experience to me. I can see why I was so wild about this particular installment. Untamed, and Chosen, were a definite improvement in the series. Once more, I couldn't put the book down because it's just so dang indulgent and addictive and fun.

From a step back re: slut shaming in the narration, to more world-building, friendship highs and lows, and a lot more tension, Untamed was the best yet. There were still a few moments where I cringed, and quite a few typos/errors, but it was still the series' strongest point. I'd forgotten how sad Stark's origins were, both in terms of his backstory and the beginning of his significance to House of Night, and how things went down when it came to Neferet's resurrection of Kalona.

Not to mention the Raven Mockers. No, seriously, I forgot all about them. Don't ask me how I forgot such a massive part of the mythology of the series. I'm not sure. But, I did, and I feel incredibly silly having done so. I have this theory that I was trying to block them out of my memory, knowing that they had hurt Zoey's Grandma. Although her injuries were not permanent, it still was like, "HEY! Weird mythological beings! LEAVE GRANDMA REDBIRD ALONE."

Who doesn't love Zoey's Grandma?

(If you don't, I'm going to have to ask you to leave* my blog. Thanks!)

*Kidding. I mean, who am I to judge bad taste? To each their own! 

Let's talk plotlines and what I liked vs. what I didn't

What I liked: 
  • As always, I thought that Aphrodite's story arch was the strongest. Seeing her grow will always be my favourite experience of the series. I hated that she was no longer a fledgling due to her sacrifice and saving Stevie Rae's life, if only because it made her full of sorrow and confusion. Seeing her walk back into the House of Night, despite this, and working hard to fix her past mistakes, is very admirable. She is still Aphrodite, but she is a new version of herself that is worthy of all good things. Plus, she gets a cat in this one and names it Malificent and THAT IS MY BRAND.
  • Nyx materializing/coming to both Aphrodite and Zoey when they needed her. The relationship that the fledglings and vampyres have with their goddess is very fascinating to me and builds on the mythology and beliefs within House of Night
  • "Sometimes chaos and love seem like the same thing," Aphrodite said. This is one of my favourite lines from the series. And I'm not just saying that as an Aphrodite stan.
  • Aphrodite and Zoey's friendship. Bonus: Aphrodite's bond with Grandma Redbird.
  • The inclusion of the nuns and the fact that Zoey and Aphrodite are volunteering a cat shelter. Look, I love the cats and their ties to the vampyres. I also just love cats. Plus, I think it's great that one of the main plot points in Untamed is that despite different believes: good calls to good and they will always be allies. Or in the case of Sister Mary Angela, genuine friendship. I never thought I'd say this but she is one badass nun that I'd totally want on my side, always. 
  • Neferet's delusion. I'll leave it at that? She's such a fantastic villain. I mean, she is totally one of those smile-while-you-manipulate kind of figures and I dig it. Evil is her game. I loved seeing her try to play Shekinah like she did--trying to convince her that Zoey was the bad guy. SHE IS JUST WILD, OKAY? You have to admire her determination.
  • Darius. Darius and Aphrodite. DARIUS. 
  • The cliffhanger. DANG. Just... dang.
What I disliked: 
  • The insta-love connection with Zoey and Stark. Honestly, Heath is the only love interest that Zoey had that wasn't insta-love. End remark. And honestly his entire plotline and introduction during this one was kind of out of the blue and too convenient.
  • Erik's painful immaturity. Listen, I fully understand your girlfriend cheating on you is an awful thing to have witnessed or to have happened to you, period, but GROW UP. You're a freaking adult vampyre now, boy. 
  • Bullpoopy. WHO SAYS THAT? 
  • There's still slut-shaming. While it's dropped out quite a bit, there's still some and frankly some is just too much in general. Yikes. 
  • How long it took Erin, Shaunee, Damien and Jack to "forgive" Zoey. The resolution was sloppy and not very well developed. It all felt a bit too unnecessary and made me think, "Yeah. None of this should have been a plotline, sorry.
  • This complaint is purely on the superficial side but SEEING GRANDMA REDBIRD GET HURT WAS TOO MUCH OUCHIES FOR ME AND 0/10 WOULD NOT RECOMMEND. 
  • We keep getting introduced to characters who are center stage for like two seconds, only to disappear entirely. (Take Erin and Shaunee's kind of boyfriends, for example. What happened to them?!)
Untamed is undeniably still Zoey's story, and the battle between good (Nerd Herd) and evil (Neferet, Kalona) but it's at its strongest when it is inclusive towards the other characters. Seeing them work together, or against each other, is always an enthralling scene. At the end of the day, I'm forever a softie over these characters and basically want to scoop them up and out of danger.

Ultimately, I loved seeing the way the Nerd Herd worked together, Zoey and Aphrodite's journey to growing into who they're meant to be, how Aphrodite has begun to fit into the bigger picture, the potential we have of exploring Stevie Rae's newfound life and what secrets she may be keeping now that she has her humanity back, and so on.

For so many reasons, Untamed hits all the right marks and stands out in comparison to the previous installments. Seeing the group head straight into danger is terrifying, exhilarating and just plain intriguing. The writing is better than ever. The characters are beginning to grow and face new forms of danger. The world is expanding. I genuinely enjoyed Untamed!

As with Chosen, both P.C. and Kristin Cast have me on the edge of my seat now that Untamed has concluded. What a cliffhanger! This truly feels like I am reading the series, again, for the first time, and that anticipation can't be beat. 

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