- Title: Poison Princess (Arcana Chronicles, Book 1)
- Classification: Young Adult
- Genre: Paranormal/Dystopia
- Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (October 2, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 1442436646
- ISBN-13: 978-1442436640
- Author's Website: http://kresleycole.com/
- Notes: Under age drinking.
- Sexual Content: Talk of cashing in one's V-card (virginity), kissing with a bit of heavy petting and talk of doing the deed, but nothing overly graphic.
Legends, myths...call them what you like, are all usually based from some semblance of truth and hold significance even today. They hold lessons and warnings of what could happen again. Over the years and centuries, however, some of these stories have all but been forgotten, falling through the cracks of time. Such is the case with the Arcana and the true meaning of the Tarot cards. For the cards are more than just a means for telling a person's fortune. They hold the key to an ancient people known as the Arcana who will rise from the ashes of the earth only to once again engage in an ongoing battle so ancient that only a few living souls, the Tarasova (aka the chroniclers of the Tarot), have been able to pass on the information on from one generation to the next. A battle, or game if you will, that all began with the Gods.
Evangeline Greene, Evie to her friends, had been one of the most popular girls in her high school. She was a cheerleader, dating Brandon, a football player who possessed a movie star like grin which left many a girl swooning in its wake. She was friends with pretty much everyone and considered the school her queendom. But during her Sophomore year everything changed. She started having hallucinations. Nightmare like dreams during the day while being wide awake. Brutally disturbing hallucinations of death, destruction, and the end of the world. Dreams which depicted people with unbelievable powers causing gruesome and disturbing death and destruction in their wake. Her mistake had been in confiding what she was experiencing to her mother, and when her mother found her notebook where she had meticulously documented all she saw, it had been the key to her incarceration to the funny farm, aka the Children's Learning Center, a behavioral clinic for kids. When the events from her hallucinations and notebook start to actually take place, however, Evie will need to come to terms with the fact that she might not be just a normal average teenager. She'll set out to find her grandmother who prophesied the events and was locked away years ago, when she attempted to kidnap Evie, so she could "prepare" her for her destiny. A destiny Evie has no clue about.
Evie is a very interesting character. In some ways, Evie feels guilty for not warning her friends about the events she had foreseen in her visions. She had feared she'd loose their friendship if she confided in them and couldn't imagine they'd believe her crazy visions. After all, she had a hard time believing them herself. She's thrust into a seemingly impossible situation. The Flash, as they refer to the event that was triggered by solar flares, destroyed all the vegetation on the planet, evaporated all the water outside, and killed the majority of the population. Only those who took shelter survived unscathed. An additional side affect of the Flash were new zombie-like creatures which Evie refers to as Bagmen. If they don't kill you, a wound can turn you into one of them.
After months of living alone with her mother, and only a minimal amount of interaction with their few surviving neighbors, Jackson Deveaux, a former classmate from the wrong side of the tracks, rides into town and literally saves her from a horrifying fate. The question is: can and should she trust him with her secrets or her life? According to the boy who haunts her visions, when Jackson helps, he hurts. Will she be able to accept her fate and will the boy she'll come to rely on be able to as well, or is a relationship between the two doomed before it has a chance to truly begin? Will they have to part ways?
Jackson is a very complicated character. He seems extremely accepting of so many things, but I keep thinking there is more to him than meets the eye. He seems to be the type of guy where actions speak louder than words, which throws Evie a little bit. When we first meet him, I wasn't sure I liked him; he seemed a bit stalkerish in his fascination with Evie. As we get a little bit more of his background and get to know him a little better, however, I started getting a better picture of who he was and began to like him. He's very protective of those he cares about, but is a little rough around the edges and has no sense of tact at times. Evie is different from the girls he's dealt with, and he has no idea how to handle her.
The use of the Tarot cards in the series was very ingenious thing to do. I've always thought Tarot cards were quite beautiful with their intricate designs. Creating a story around them was a very clever idea. While we're starting to skim the icing on the cake with this book, I can't help but feel the real layers of the story have yet to be uncovered.
Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. The ending of this one is a cliffhanger, but not the type that makes you want to throw the book and shout a few choice words at the author. It does, however, make you want to know what happens next. A perfect read for this time of year.
Notes to keep you in the know:
There are 22 cards included in the Major Arcana of a Tarot deck. Each is associated with a particular number, so when Matthew refers to himself as "Matthew Mat Zero Matto", we now know why--the fool's card is often considered the zero card. Each picture is surrounded by symbolism. As there are many different decks associated with the Tarot, I can't be certain the following would have all the appropriate symbolism which is used by The Arcana Chronicles series, but I felt it was a good representation/illustration of the Major Arcana cards of the deck. It should be noted there are also Minor Arcana cards as well which we'll have to wait and see if Ms. Cole will incorporate into her series.
None (0 or 22) The Fool
1 The Magician
2 The High Priestess
3 The Empress
4 The Emperor
5 The Hierophant
6 The Lovers
7 The Chariot
9 The Hermit
10 Wheel of Fortune
12 The Hanged Man
15 The Devil
16 The Tower
17 The Star
18 The Moon
19 The Sun
21 The World