The White City, 1893: In turn-of-the-century Chicago, with the World’s Fair bringing bustle and excitement to her home city, sixteen-year-old Emily Wheiler should be reveling in her youthful beauty and the excitement around her. But her whole life changed when her mother died, leaving her to be the Lady of Wheiler House. Her father, a powerful bank president, is at the center of an important social hub for the booming young city, and he needs Emily to do everything her mother would have – to be a good hostess and make sure the mansion runs smoothly.
As Emily uneasily tries to replace her mother, she also longs for more… for love and a life of her own. When a handsome young man notices her at one of her father’s parties, it seems that her hopes may finally be coming true. Until her father forbids her to see him – or any other man – and starts revealing a darkly violent side that even he can’t understand.
At last, afraid for her life and with nowhere to turn, Emily is Marked by a vampyre and brought to the Chicago House of Night, where she begins a magickal new life that should allow the wounds from her past to heal. But as she gains strength, and a powerful new name, she carries a dark need to wreak vengeance on the man she trusted most.
I didn’t have high hopes for this, but I actually found myself liking the story of how Emily Wheiler became Neferet. Then again, I’ve always enjoyed books that allow you insight into a character’s past. It shows her growth from the young, naive 16 year old girl in late 19th century Chicago, into the deceptive creature we first meet in the beginning of the House of Night series. I must admit, one of my favorite parts of the book is the correlation between Emily’s mother’s fountain of Zeus as a beautiful white bull and Europa. This helps to set the stage for Neferet’s future attachment to the White Bull. Her belief that perhaps it wasn’t Zeus who raped Europa, but instead Europa who willing gave herself to the powerful God helps to show the early signs of Neferet’s quest for power and control after being subjected to the enslavement of her father’s rule as well as the standards of social appropriateness during the time.
When it comes to this series, I feel as a whole, it could have been stronger if they focused more on Neferet’s evil antics, than Zoey and her friends constantly throwing out pop culture references. The one thing this novella establishes is that there was such a great idea about the creation of Neferet into the antagonist and somewhere in the series, it gets lost in the teenage drama and angst.