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Saturday, January 9, 2016

REVIEW: The Arcana Chronicles (1-3) by Kresley Cole

Evangeline "Evie" Greene has lived a charmed life; well, except for the debilitating hallucinations which left her institutionalized over the summer, a fact which none of her friends or boyfriend know. After an apocalyptic event decimates Louisiana and the known world, Evie learns that her hallucinations are real and is as desperate for answers as she is for survival.  When fate leads her to hunky but wrong-side-of-the-bayou, Jackson Deveaux, Evie has to decide if she can trust him to protect her and aid her in her quest to find her grandmother.

This first book was intriguing since the true story behind the apocalypse, Evie's visions and how it all fits together remained a mystery until nearly the end.  Readers learn with Evie that she's one of the "Arcana characters" depicted on the tarot deck destined to play out a game where Arcana battle amongst themselves to win.  Evie is the Empress with powers to control and manipulate plants and poisons. She has a lot to learn if she is going to survive the game, master her powers and figure out just who she can trust in this battle between good and evil.

Overall, I liked Poison Princess as the first in a series.  Known for super steamy adult romances, Cole certainly pushes the envelope with her depiction of teenage angst and romance--so I'd definitely recommend this for more mature YA readers. The concept is creative and in general I like the characters but don't love Evie.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Endless Knight is book 2 of the series. Evie has claimed the title of Tarot Empress and Jack was there to see it all. She's horrified that she's lost him forever now that he's learned the truth. Evie's relationship trials are the least of her problems since she now has to put her trust in a new Alliance with other Arcana members plus avoid zombie Bagmen, cannibals and deadly storms.

Enter Death, a powerful Arcana with whom Evie learns she has a complicated history. Despite her feelings for Jack, she feels drawn to the deadly Endless Knight. Events are set in motion that will change not only change the game but test relationships and alliances.

Overall, I didn't not like Endless Knight as much as the first book. I missed the dynamic of Evie and Jack on their own.  The addition of so many new characters makes it feel as if the narrative loses focus.  While I understand the need to introduce Death and the subsequent love triangle, I grew bored with this aspect of the plot and just wasn't all that invested. Sure Death is gorgeous, deadly and immortal but he's also kinda creepy and quite literally holding Evie prisoner. Not cool.

My same general warning applies for this book--recommended for a mature YA reader. Significant steamy sexual encounters not appropriate for younger readers.  In general, there is also a high violence level.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In book 3, Evie has escaped Death's castle and is traveling to reunite with Jack and her other "friends" in her Arcana alliance. She learns that Jack has been captured by "The Lovers", perverse Arcana twins know for their heinous torture. Just when they believe they've defeated another enemy, Evie and the others realize that there is a much bigger picture.  In order to survive, she, Jack and Death will have to work together.

The larger question for this book is whether Evie will choose Jack or Death.  She's in love with Jack but her past lives pull her toward Death as well. When Evie does make a choice it seems as if she and her beloved will have a sweet reunion; however, a new enemy arrives with devastating force. Readers will have to pick up book 4 to learn their fate.

All in all, I was vastly disappointed in Dead of Winter. While Evie had been tolerable in the previous books, I found her incredibly irritating. She's indecisive and whiny which I can't stand. The love triangle notwithstanding, the plot felt fragmented and I just couldn't engage. I think I'd like it more if there were altering POV with Evie, Jack and Death. Despite my disappointment, the ending was enough of a cliffhanger that I will read the next book.

Final rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

#ArcanaChronicles #PoisonPrincess #EndlessKnight #DeadOfWinter #YAlit #tarot #teen