She could save the world—or destroy it.
Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.
But she can’t do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?
Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side.
I love it when a book has me so obsessed, so excited, so twisted up, that I can hardly stand it. I kept whispering to myself “Ohmygod, it’s so good… it’s just SO good…” over and over as I listened to these first two books in what is so far my favorite paranormal series of the year. The Arcana Chronicles is a striking paranormal romance that takes shape after a post-apocalyptic event triggers a game of life and death. The game is based on the tarot card deck, specifically the major arcana, or trump cards. Twenty-two cards, and in this case, twenty-two kids whom each represent an arcana card, each with a power they must learn to wield in order to destroy the others. They must battle and outsmart each other as they try to survive the dangers of their post-apocalyptic world and disrupt the kill-or-be-killed focus of each player in this deadly game. There can only be one winner.
“She’s so lovely, so fragile. Those haunted eyes. Those rosebud lips…they’ll scream so prettily.”
The book begins with a chilling prologue. I was hooked. Lured. Draw in by a haunting account of a girl deceived by a psychopath named Arthur. We meet 16-year-old Evie Green, who’s walked straight into a trap after the Flash—an event which burned the world to ashes, killing most of the population and leaving those who survived hungry, scared and alone. Through her conversation with Arthur, the story unfurls, taking us back to the days before everything changed.
Evie was a privileged teenager who hadn’t struggled with much in life. By the looks of it, she had it all, including the handsome, popular boyfriend. But Evie was indeed keeping secrets. Plagued with dark hallucinations and voices that whispered in her thoughts, she struggled to sustain any semblance of normality. After the Flash, and with so many of those she loved gone, she comes face-to-face with a boy she despises and one that despises her right back.
Enter Cajun bad boy, Jackson Deveaux.
Circumstances dictate Jackson and Evie work together to survive and so they embark on a journey to outrun the dangers that surround them. Evie also learns her hallucinations are actually harrowing visions of the future. She begins to discover there is more to her than she understands and she must figure out, very quickly, who she really is. The voices in her head warn that she shouldn’t trust Jack, but the more time they spend together, the more she’s tempted to confide in him. And the more she begins to want him in a way she never expected.
“You and your secrets. Ah, peekôn, just when I think I’ve solved one mystery about you, up comes another one. I will figure you out one day. En garde, cher. Consider yourself warned.”
Jack and Evie’s relationship is rife with conflict, misunderstandings, fighting and undeniably, desire. Jack is determined to learn her secrets and Evie is focused on figuring out everything that is happening to her. She’s the Empress, she learns. A part of the major arcana. But what powers does she hold? Who are the others? What is the endgame? Their journey is action-packed and thrilling, bringing experiences that continuously thrust them closer together. With Jack, Evie learns to be strong. More self-reliant. More confident. And even when she learns that Death himself is after her, Evie’s tenacity saves her from dangerous situations. As her powers grow, willing to do what she commands, she begins to not only elude certain death, but also fight back.
“I don’t get poisoned, I do the poisoning. I’m the princess of it.”
Evie must balance out the intoxicating high she feels when she uses her powers, with the person she chooses to be. She must fight the merciless inside of her with the mercy she wants to have. Would fate dictate who she was or would she be able to control fate through her own choices? The end of Poison Princess leaves us dangling at a precipice, but luckily we can dive right into book 2, Endless Knight.
“Evie, if you ever get taken from me again, you better know that I’ll be coming for you.”
The second book helps us understand not only the dynamic of the game, but also the complicated relationship between Death and the Empress. Death has got to be one of the most fabulous characters of which I’ve ever read. He’s dangerous. Intelligent. Conniving. Ruthless. And he’s after Evie. But the more we learn about him, the more we see vulnerability, heart and loneliness. Death is a wonderfully complex character and I fell for him instantly.
Whereas Jack and Evie’s relationship worked best when neither were talking, Death and Evie become closer every time they talk. At first, their exchanges are terse, but in time, their words are charged with emotions. Undefined. Explosive. Fueled by words neither is saying, but most certainly are feeling. There’s something about him that Evie recognizes inside. Something that feels familiar. When truths are revealed, and betrayals are uncovered, everything changes and her world is once again turned upside down as the stakes get deadlier. She can’t help but think of Jack’s words as she considers her next move.
“I told you once and I’ll tell you again: there’s nothing that can happen to you that we can’t get past. Just give me a chance to get to you. Promise me. Promise me. You doan leave me again.”
But it’s Death’s touch she begins to need.
“My relationship with Jackson had felt fated. Whatever I had with Aric felt . . . endless.”
This action-packed tale turns into a scorching romance that sets the pages ablaze. The angst nearly killed me. I couldn’t get enough. Death’s allure is hard to resist, but were his words truth or deception?
“I desired you before, but I never loved you until this life.”
And at the end, once again, Kresley Cole masterfully leaves us at the brink of so much more. So much is yet to happen as the game evolves and life-altering decisions must be made. This series is simply amazing. It’s the first I’ve read of Kresley Cole and I can assure you, I’m poised to devour everything she’s written. The genius of the series is not only in the world-building and originality, but also and perhaps primarily, in the character development. Each major player is a multifaceted being that cannot be simply defined… they are each byproducts of the experiences that shape them.
In a game enlivened by deception, we must endeavor to decipher truths from lies, actions from intentions. The next book, The Dead of Winter, will be out January of next year and I’ve already begun my countdown. More books are expected after. This series is a must-read for paranormal junkies like me. I can assure that you will love it as much as I have!
“The Empress doesn’t get collared, or caged, or tortured. How artfully she beckons, how perfectly she punishes….”
*Note, I listened to these two books on Audible and I can’t recommend them enough. The narrators are perfect for the parts they play.
Reading Order and Purchase Links
There are three books to date (more expected) in the series: Poison Princess, Endless Knight and Dead of Winter. The first two books are available now. Click on the cover to purchase from Amazon U.S. (Note ebook covers differ from paperback ones). You can also read the first seventeen chapters for free here.