Kresley Cole has long been one of my favorite paranormal romance authors. Her Immortal After Dark series has so many twists and turns, the heroes are always to die for, and the heroines – quite frankly – kick ass. When I learned that she had a young adult series, it was a no-brainer for me. Arcana Rising, the fifth installment in her Arcana Chronicles series, does not disappoint.
This book picks off where Dead of Winter ends. Richter, the Emperor card, has covered the land with lava, and Evie sees it cascade over Jackson’s army. Flood water combats Richter, only for Evie to find herself ripped away from Death’s arms. Alone, she vows vengeance on Richter as Evie makes her way back to the Arcana fort – back to her alliance – hoping to bring back Jackson.
It’s never that simple. Evie meets new players in the game and gets one setback after another. As hope seems lost, she reunites with Death (aka Aric). The tension between them comes to a head, and Evie wonders if her ever-deepening feelings for Death are a betrayal of Jackson. The war, however, waits for no one, and Evie must decide her fate.
Evie has grown up through the series, and I have enjoyed seeing her continue on that path. The United States is now a apocalyptic land, however, and Evie has no time for doubts or questioning. She’s a woman on a mission, and her top priority is saving Jackson. She is devastated, but her anger keeps her moving, and I could understand her pain. I love reading a novel where I can root on the heroine and admire her.
I admire Evie.
Especially as new players emerge. As soon as I thought an alliance was solid, it manages to shift again, and I could never be sure who to trust. The same as Evie. It gives the reader the opportunity to feel as if they are on this journey too. This world sucks you in, and I happily latched on.
I have to say, however, that Death is the heart of this installment. He’s so afraid to trust Evie. The Empress has betrayed Death one time too many, and he tries so hard to deny his feelings, and honestly, I wonder if Evie deserves him. There is so much depth to Aric. He’s such a great guy, and the whole not being able to have touched any other woman – ever – heightens the tension with Evie to the nth degree. Gosh, but it is smokin’ tension, ya’ll.
I thought I was firmly on Team Jackson (even if he could be an alpha-hole at times), but by the end of this one, I am thoroughly on the Death bandwagon.
That’s not to say there weren’t some pitfalls. The love triangle is a little overdone in YA, and I really wanted Evie to choose (even if I, as the reader, am still a little torn.) Evie shows a lot more gumption in this book, but I’ll admit the plot is what sells me on this series. I am dying to know which alliances are real and which ones are no more sturdy than wet sand.
This guessing game keeps me on my toes, and even though many readers didn’t like the cliffhanger ending, I am okay with it. I must know what happens next! Will they defeat the Emperor? What other enemies will Evie face?
And what happens if they are all cursed to continue the game, resetting it for all eternity?
You, as well as I, will just have to wait and find out.
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