Blogtober (#24) | Review: Loved by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

6:30 AM

The Nerd Herd rides again! And is truly better than ever. No, seriously. I know my feelings during my reread have been all over the place about House of Night, but this first installment of House of Night: Other World, Loved, is honestly my favourite in the House of Night world so far. I definitely loved Loved.

Warning: this review includes spoilers to the original series as well as Loved



About


The bestselling series has returned! Join P.C. and Kristin Cast in celebrating the tenth anniversary of the House of Night series by going on a thrilling new adventure with your beloved Nerd Herd.
 
It’s Zoey’s eighteenth birthmas and the Nerd Herd has been scattered across the country busily adulting for almost a year when Stark calls them back to Tulsa to surprise Z. But all is not well in T-town. Strange, dark signs are appearing—could it be possible Neferet is stirring? Not willing to chance disaster striking again, Zoey calls on her newly reunited friends to circle with her and add a layer of protection over Neferet’s grotto jail. Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong. Nothing at the House of Night is ever as it seems.

With rabid red vampyres closing in, Zoey and the Nerd Herd must come together again and battle evil. But a year is a long time. Have these old friends grown too far apart?

When the world fractures and allies become enemies, will darkness devour friendships or will light save those she’s loved?



Loved by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5) 

"Sometimes our spirit weeps. When it does you must work at comforting it, and then healing it."

As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

For as long as I can remember, House of Night has been one of the series that was a huge part of my literary coming of age journey. Back when, in high school, it dominated my shelves. In my twenties, the series forever has a shelf of its own. I will forever enjoy telling the story of how, during one of the books initial release dates, I had my mom drive through the aftermath of an Indiana snowstorm just to purchase a new release. To say I was devoted to this series would be an understatement.

When I heard that the series was coming back, I was a little skeptical. Still, House of Night Other World, has been on my TBR since 2017. Finally, in preparation for Forgotten and in line with my complete series reread, I was able to binge read the newest series.

As I jumped into Loved it became obvious that P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast were back and better than ever. All of my concerns were gone because not only does the Nerd Herd ride again, it is even better this time around and the whole landscape of the series has been given a new life.

In all honesty, I loved (ha!) Loved even more than the previous installments of the original series. There was this familiar quality to it, still it maintained that enthralling, dramatic and highly romantic feeling for readers, but there was also this hint of newness to it. It, without a doubt, took me back to 2008 or 2009 in the sense that I was completely captivated with having a new House of Night novel to dive into it. You know that feeling of meeting up with an old friend? I felt that within Loved and it was indescribable.

While many author's would fail to breathe a new life and era to an already admittedly long (four novellas, twelve books in the original series, plus graphic novels and a companion novel!) neither P.C. or Kristin Cast stumble. Their writing is better than ever; adding new layers of mythology and world-building (there is, quite literally, A WHOLE NEW WORLD) while still grasping the essence of the original series. They modernize it beautifully, while tying in various political elements that are all too familiar for our current landscape.

As for the Nerd Herd, the characters aren't all on the exact life paths I had hoped for them, but the growth is there:

Zoey is home, at the Tulsa House of Night, and is kicking serious butt as High Priestess. Stark, her warrior and consort, of course, remains at her side, and Aphrodite, too, is not far behind with Darius. Everyone else is scattered, which feels true to life. Erik has finally found his place with acting and Shaunee. Stevie Rae and Rephaim are still going strong. Nicole and Shaylin, too, have solidified their OTP status. Damien's story is, of course, the more bittersweet of the batch--as he still struggles with the loss of Jack.

Seeing them reunited feels like a homecoming of its own and I adored the little group hug we get to see at the start of Loved. The entire gang is back home, exuding #SQUADGOALS to celebrate our girl Zoey's 18th birthday, when danger strikes and Zoey is visited by Kalona in a dream to warn her of potential danger: Neferet could be stirring.

Aphrodite's vision of death soon follows--and once again the Nerd Herd has to save the day and battle new evils. By new evils, I mean LITERAL (!) NEW EVILS. This new layer of mythology changes everything we know about "our" House of Night and introduces a parallel universe into the mix. Aka, the Other World. Not to be confused with the afterlife of Nyx's Otherworld.

Let me tell you: I freaked the heckity heck out in the best way. May or may not have done a happy and excited dance. Which would be a lot more embarrassing if I, you know, had any shame. As you guys know, I love stories of parallel universes if they are done right and Loved definitely succeeds in ways similarly to other YA novels like The Corridor, Trial by Fire and Queen of Air and Darkness.

(Loved is entirely of its own caliber and is primarily set around people from a parallel world slipping through to ours.)

Needless to say, there was a lot addressed and expanded upon in Loved that felt like more than a stroke of brilliance to me. It just felt right. P.C. and Kristin really knocked it out of the park with this new series!

We got some answers on long lingering questions from the original series run. The Other World holds a different set of mythology entirely, which was fascinating to see. We see what could have happened to our world, had certain events varied even slightly from the path we saw. Aphrodite, spoiler alert, finally regained her marks and is now a fully fledged Vampyre of a new kind. Her development continues to be the best of the series. Zoey's brother, Kevin, or another version of him, has a significant role in Loved which was surprising and refreshing.

Most importantly, Other Jack has arrived--and ALL the emotions happen. I do mean ALL of the emotions. I'm not crying, you're crying. Something about Loved felt like more than a love letter to the fans of the House of Night series, and so much more than a new beginning. I can't really explain it other than I really, truly, loved this book and I can't wait to continue on this new chapter.

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