The Arcana Chronicles #1
Paranormal Young Adult
Simon & Schuster BFYR
Received at BEA
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
She could save the world—or destroy it.
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.
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?
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….
Poison Princess is a strangely alluring introduction to the world of the Arcana Chronicles, the picture Ms. Cole paints haunting and brutal, grabbing us by the throat from the first chapter and refusing to release us until we’ve devoured every page. What’s perhaps most fascinating about this first installment is the challenge it presents, protagonists Evie and Jack not an entirely likable pair from the onset as they repeatedly test the limits of our patience with their antagonistic relationship, but like the Poison Princess herself, both characters slowly grow claws, sinking them into our skin centimeter by centimeter until they’re fully embedded and we find ourselves completely ensnared. As with the characters, the world itself presents many of its own challenges, namely the seemingly endless line of questions we have with regard to the Arcana, Evie’s role with them, and their overall purpose, but instead of the frustration we might expect from so many blanks yet to be filled, the story is written in such a way that we are continually reassured answers will be provided even if they’re not granted to us in this first book.
Evie is a bit of a tricky heroine, someone who initially seems willing to succumb to peer pressure in order to please those around her and who repeatedly mouths off to Jackson with little regard to how he might interpret her words. She inadvertently insults him on a variety of occasions, and despite knowing she’s caused offense, she refuses to clarify her statement so that he understands how it came across was not in fact how it was intended. For almost the entire first half connecting to her is a bit of a struggle, her caustic relationship with Jackson keeping us at a distance even though we’re able to sympathize with her situation and find ourselves more than fascinated by her visions. In the last hundred or so pages however, Evie decides to be as honest (in some things) with Jackson as possible, clearing up many of their misunderstandings when they happen and becoming a young woman we want to root for on every possible level.
Jackson, for his part, is as much of a problem in the beginning as Evie, proudly wearing a suit of arrogance and righteous indignation at his lot in life as though such things belong to him exclusively, with no one else in the world having earned the right to an attitude such as his. He’s downright cruel at times, tossing insults back at Evie and somewhat obtusely interpreting every word she says as her looking down on him from her high horse, refusing to take a moment to give her the benefit of the doubt. His reactions to her are more than justifiable in the beginning, but as they go along we want nothing more than to shake the two of them to help break the vicious cycle of miscommunications they seem incapable of remedying. However, like Evie, eventually he comes clean with regard to his true feelings, and we learn to read his actions instead of listening to his words so that suddenly by the end our hearts are torn to ribbons before we even realize the first cut was made.
Overall, Poison Princess is a violent, vicious, and completely addicting start to what will no doubt prove to be an intense series documenting Evie’s journey from normal to paranormal. Those who crave answers to all their questions will most likely reach the end of this book with a twinge of disappointment at how much is left to learn about the Arcana, but Evie’s story is so darkly captivating it’s hard not to smile at what the last page promises for the future.
Rating: 3.5-4 out of 5 (I'm giving a range because there are days when Jackson and Evie's behavior bothered me more than it did on others. All was dependent on my mood.)