Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Poison Princess is the first book of the new young adult series the Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole.  To read the book cover, click here.  Evangeline Greene is a 16 year old, modern day southern belle who is trying to maintain her appearance of leading a “normal” life after secretly spending the summer at a child psychiatric institution.  What was she in for?  Evie was having gruesome hallucinations of the end of the world complete with pus filled zombies and flash fried earth.  Her widowed mom believes that Evie is catching the same “sickness” as her grandmother, who Evie has been forbidden to contact since she was eight.  Hiding her secret from her friends and football star boyfriend is hard enough without the new Cajun delinquents joining her school after the new school boundaries were placed, with the lead trouble maker Jackson Deveaux as her main distraction from Evie’s carefully monitored concentration.  Not to mention the weird partial conversations that she seems to have in her head with other kids she has never met and the way the plants around her react to her thoughts and moods.  What is going on and what does it all mean?

It took me several days to get through the prolog of this book for whatever reason, but once I started the first chapter, I could not put it down!  The prolog starts off with her narrating her story around 250 days after the “flash” (AF) to a demented stranger and then the first chapter starts at the beginning of her story approximately a week before the “flash”.  As it turns out, her “hallucinations” were in fact warnings of what was to come and the conversations she was having with one boy in particular, Matthew, saved her and her mother’s life from the solar flare.  After 200 days of her and her mom scavenging all the empty houses and stores for food and supplies, barricading their home from the thirst driven zombies, rationing their well water supplies, her mom sustaining a serious internal injury, and their one surviving horse is starving to death, Evie needs a miracle to survive.  The first miracle is her discovery that her very blood can bring the plants back to life and the seeds to grow.  This costly ability provides them with fruit and vegetables, but her mom still is getting worse and worse and she doesn’t know what to do.  The second miracle comes riding in on a motorcycle in the form of Jackson fresh from the militia.  He has heard that Evie and her mom survived, and has come to warn them of the viciousness of the militia headed their way.  What he discovers is Evie’s dire situation and rescues her by taking her with him once he promises to take her to her grandmother in North Carolina, against his better judgment.

Both Evie and Jackson are dealing with their own trust issues (of course) and won’t tell how they feel about the other.  Evie is also reluctant to explain her secrets on how she made all the plants grow or divulge the limited amount of information she has to why everything is happening to her and the new world they are trying to survive in.  What do all of Evie’s powers mean?  She is the Empress in the Tarot cards her grandmother always tried to teach her about.  The Empress is a major Arcana and has the power over plants and her greatest strength comes from enticing others to their doom.  Matthew is the Fool and they also come across the Moon, the Magician, and visions of Death and others.  Jackson knows something else is going on and begs Evie to tell him everything, but she is afraid because she has come to realize how much she loves and depends on him and what she is is scary enough to her, so she is terrified that he will totally be repulsed and reject her.

The book ends with Evie finally coming to terms with what she is just in time to save her life and the life of several other innocent girls, but the timing sucks because it just so happens that Jackson was rushing to her rescue to discover that his little princess has claws of her own, literally in the form of thorns.  While Matthew is clearly proud and relieved, Evie is left with the image of Jackson’s look of total shock as he crosses himself and takes a step back.  Was holding the truth from him really the best idea for him to discover it like this?  We will have to find out with the next book in the series that is scheduled to come out in October 2013.  I was really curious how a young adult book would turn out by Cole and I was just as pleased with it as with her Immortals After Dark Series.  To read the book cover of her first novella of this series, Warlord Wants Forever, click here.  Her writing is always witty and comical with a well thought out time line and excellent character development with several steamy scenes here and there.  It is always a pleasure to read a Kresley Cole book and this one was no exception.

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