The Vampyre Version of Our Modern World
The world where Marked takes place is a lot like ours, except that the mystical and mysterious creatures known as vampyres have always existed alongside humans. We'll take you on a brief tour of the world's quirks, as well as a walk through the Tulsa chapter of the House of Night.
Zoey is an average American teenager with a cell phone and a locker in her high school, so even though we don't have a specific year to pin down the book at, we're thinking it's early-2000s or so. No need to party like it's 1999 since hello, cell phones weren't so prevalent back then.
Their world seems a lot like ours, with the same general types of things like AP classes, religious fundamentalists, and movie stars. The main difference is that a lot of these movie stars are vampyres, since vampyres are apparently super attractive and creative (must be one of the perks of immortality—plenty of time to develop any and every skill). More specifically speaking, there are plenty of mentions of people and things from our world, including stars like Garth Brooks and Ashton Kutcher, and television shows like That '70s Show and America's Next Top Model.
Zoey hasn't seen many vamps up close before being Marked, but she knows about their many talents. She explains:
Yes, I knew that vampyres were attractive. Everyone knew that. The most successful actors and actresses in the world were vampyres. They were also dancers and musicians, authors and singers. Vampyres dominated the arts, which is one reason they had so much money—and also one reason (of many) that the People of Faith considered them selfish and immoral. (7.105)
What, a judgmental religious group? Those totally don't exist in our world. Kidding. We also learn that vamps can go out in sunlight but don't like it, and that garlic is okay by them. How do you kill a vamp, then, and are they really immortal? We meet some centuries-old ones, but there's a lot about them that remains mysterious. For now, anyway.
For example: As far as the why of vampyres, well, the jury's still kind of out. Zoey attempts (unsuccessfully) to explain it to her step-dad: "We studied this in AP biology. It's a physiological reaction that takes place in some teenagers' bodies as their hormone levels rise […] In certain people, the hormones trigger something-or-other in a […] Junk DNA strand, which starts the whole Change" (3.14). So scientists kind of have a handle on the process, but they probably haven't figured out how to account for, say, Nyx's role in it.
Oh, and why's it spelled vampyre instead of the more standard vampire? Seems like the authors liked it and went with it. As far as we can tell, these vampyres are both similar to and different from other kinds of vampires in various ways, so it's not like the y-for-an-i distinction means a whole lot.
Welcome to the House of Night
The House of Night in Tulsa, Oklahoma is darkly atmospheric. Here's Zoey's first glimpse of it:
It was the middle of the night, and it should have been deeply dark, but there was a brilliant moon shining above the huge old oaks that shaded everything. Freestanding gaslights housed in tarnished copper fixtures followed the sidewalk that ran parallel to the huge red brick and black rock building. It was three stories tall and had a weirdly high roof that pointed up and then flattened at the top. I could see that heavy drapes had been opened and soft yellow lights made shadows dance up and down the rooms, giving the entire structure an alive and welcoming look. (7.98)
Kind of sounds like something out of a gothic novel, but less creepy, right? In addition to what used to be Cascia Hall (the main building), there's a stable, and Nyx's Temple.
There are also dorms, which are disappointingly normal in some ways. When Stevie Rae shows Zoey where to get snacks in their dorm's common room, she sees: "a smaller room off to the side that had four refrigerators, a big sink, two microwaves, lots of cabinets, and a pretty white wooden table that sat in the middle of it—just like a regular kitchen" (10.78). Nothing exciting about this, right? It sounds like every dorm we've ever been in, pretty much.
So in some ways, the House of Night is nowhere near as scary or creepy as Zoey had feared. The fledglings who live there could well be at some other private boarding school, except for how their schedules are flipped so that all their classes are at night. But even though the physical surroundings aren't too freaky, Zoey still manages to get knee-deep in supernatural trouble.
For a bonus, check out P.C. Cast's take on what she changed in the setting, because there actually is a Cascia Hall in Tulsa.