#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.
She could save the world—or destroy it. Sixteen 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. With 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? As 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….
“How are you feeling?” Mom asked with an appraising eye. “You sure you’re up for this?”
I finished my hair, pasted on a smile, and lied through my teeth, “Definitely.” Though we’d been over this, I patiently said, “The docs told me that settling back into a normal routine might be good for someone like me.” Well, at least three out of my five shrinks had.
The other two insisted that I was still unstable. A loaded gun. Trouble with the possibility of rubble.
“I just need to get back to school, around all my friends.”
Whenever I quoted shrinks to her, Mom relaxed somewhat, as if it was proof that I’d actually listened to them.
I could remember a lot of what the docs said—because they’d made me forget so much of my life before the clinic.
With her hands clasped behind her back, Mom began strolling around my room, her gaze flickering over my belongings—a pretty, blond Sherlock Holmes sniffing for any secrets she didn’t yet know.
She’d find nothing; I’d already hidden my contraband in my book bag.
“Did you have a nightmare last night?”
Had she heard me shoot upright with a cry? “Nope.”
“When you were catching up with your friends, did you confide to anyone where you really were?”
Mom and I had told everyone that I’d gone to a special school for “deportment.” After all, you can’t prep a daughter too early for those competitive sororities in the South.
In reality, I’d been locked up at the Children’s Learning Center, a behavioral clinic for kids. Also known as Child’s Last Chance.
“I haven’t told anyone about CLC,” I said, horrified by the idea of my friends, or my boyfriend, finding out.
Especially not him. Brandon Radcliffe. With his hazel eyes, movie-star grin, and curling light-brown hair.
“Good. It’s our business only.” She paused before my room’s big wall mural, tilting her head uneasily. Instead of a nice watercolor or a retro-funk design, I’d painted an eerie landscape of tangled vines, looming oaks, and darkening skies descending over hills of cane. I knew she’d considered painting over the mural but feared I’d reach my limit and mutiny.
“Have you taken your medicine this morning?”
“Like I always do, Mom.” Though I couldn’t say my bitter little pills had done much for my nightmares, they did stave off the delusions that had plagued me last spring.
Those terrifying hallucinations had been so lifelike, leaving me temporarily blinded to the world around me. I’d barely completed my sophomore year, brazening out the visions, training myself to act like nothing was wrong.
In one of those delusions, I’d seen flames blazing across a night sky. Beneath the waves of fire, fleeing rats and serpents had roiled over Haven’s front lawn, until the ground looked like it was rippling.
In another, the sun had shone—at night—searing people’s eyes till they ran with pus, mutating their bodies and rotting their brains. They became zombielike blood drinkers, with skin that looked like crinkled paper bags and oozed a rancid slime. I called them bogeymen. . . .
My short-term goal was simple: Don’t get exiled back to CLC. My long-term goal was a bit more challenging: Survive the rest of high school so I could escape to college.
“And you and Brandon are still an item?” Mom almost sounded disbelieving, as if she didn’t understand why he would still be going out with me after my three-month absence.
“He’ll be here soon,” I said in an insistent tone. Now she’d gotten me nervous.
No, no. All summer, he’d faithfully texted me, though I’d only been allowed to respond twice a month. And ever since my return last week, he’d been wonderful—my cheerful, smiling boyfriend bringing me flowers and taking me to movies.
“I like Brandon. He’s such a good boy.” At last, Mom concluded this morning’s interrogation. “I’m glad you’re back, honey. It’s been so quiet around Haven without you.”
Quiet? I yearned to say, “Really, Karen? You know what’s worse than quiet? Fluorescent bulbs crackling twenty-four hours a day in the center. Or maybe the sound of my cutter roommate weeping as she attacked her thigh with a spork? How about disconnected laughter with no punch line?”
But then, that last one had been me.
In the end, I said nothing about the center. Just two years and out.
“Mom, I’ve got a big day.” I shouldered my backpack. “And I want to be outside when Brand shows.” I’d already made him wait for me all summer.
“Oh, of course.” She shadowed me down the grand staircase, our steps echoing in unison. At the door, she tucked my hair behind my ears and gave me a kiss on my forehead, as if I were a little girl. “Your shampoo smells nice—might have to borrow some.”
“Sure.” I forced another smile, then walked outside. The foggy air was so still—as if the earth had exhaled but forgotten to inhale once more.
I descended the front steps, then turned to gaze at the imposing home I’d missed so much.
Haven House was a grand twenty-two-room mansion, fronted by twelve stately columns. Its colors—wood siding of the lightest cream, hurricane shutters of the darkest forest green—had remained unchanged since it’d originally been built for my great-great-great-great-grandmother.
Twelve massive oak trees encircled the structure, their sprawling limbs grown together in places, like hundred-ton hydras trapping prey.
The locals thought Haven House looked haunted. Seeing the place bathed in fog, I had to admit that was fair.
As I waited, I meandered across the front lawn to a nearby cane row, leaning in to smell a purple stalk. Crisp but sweet. One of the feathery green leaves was curled so that it looked like it was embracing my hand. That made me smile.
“You’ll get rain soon,” I murmured, hoping Sterling’s drought would finally end.
My smile deepened when I saw a sleek Porsche convertible speeding down our oystershell drive, a blur of red.
Brandon. He was the most enviable catch in our parish. Senior. Quarterback. Rich. The trifecta of boyfriends.
When he pulled up, I opened the passenger door with a grin. “Hey, big guy.”
But he frowned. “You look . . . tired.”
“I didn’t get to bed till late,” I replied, darting a glance over my shoulder as I tossed my bag into the minuscule backseat. When the kitchen curtain fluttered to the side, I just stopped myself from rolling my eyes. Two years and out . . .
“You feeling okay?” His gaze was filled with concern. “We can pick up some coffee on the way.”
I shut the door behind me. “Sure. Whatever.” He hadn’t complimented me on my hair or outfit—my Chloé baby-blue sleeveless dress with the hem no more than four regulation inches above the knee, the silky black ribbon that held my hair back in a curling ponytail, my matching black Miu Miu ankle-wrap heels.
My diamond earrings and Patek Philippe wristwatch served as my only jewelry.
I’d spent weeks planning this outfit, two days in Atlanta acquiring it, and the last hour convincing myself I’d never looked better.
He hiked his wide shoulders, the matter forgotten, then peeled down Haven’s drive, tires spitting up an arc of shell fragments as we zoomed past acre after acre of cane.
Once we’d reached the highway, a seamed and worn-out stretch of old Louisiana road, he said, “You’re so quiet this morning.”
“I had weird dreams last night.” Nightmares. Nothing new there.
Without fail, my good dreams were filled with plants. I’d see ivy and roses growing before my eyes or crops sprouting all around me.
But lately in my nightmares, a crazed redheaded woman with gleaming green eyes used those same plants to . . . hurt people, in grisly ways. When her victims begged for mercy, she would cackle with delight.
She was cloaked and partially hooded, so I couldn’t make out all of her face, but she had pale skin and green ivylike tattoos running down both her cheeks. Her wild red hair was strewn with leaves.
I called her the red witch. “Sorry,” I said with a shiver. “They kind of put me in a funk.”
“Oh.” His demeanor told me he felt way out of his depth. I’d once asked him if he had nightmares, and he’d looked at me blankly, unable to remember one.
That was the thing about Brandon—he was the most happy-go-lucky boy I’d ever met. Though he was built like a bear—or a pro football player—his temperament was more adoring canine than grizzly.
Secretly, I put a lot of store in him, hoping his normal could drag me back from my wasteland-visions brink. Which was why I’d fretted about him finding another girl and breaking up with me while I was locked up at CLC.
Now it seemed like at least one thing was going to work out. Brandon had stayed true to me. With every mile we drove away from Haven, the sun shone brighter and brighter, the fog lifting.
“Well, I know how to put my girl in a good mood.” He gave me his mischievous grin.
I was helpless not to be charmed. “Oh, yeah, big guy? How’s that?”
He pulled off the road under the shade of a pecan tree, tires popping the fallen pecans. After waiting for the dust to pass us, he pressed a button and put down the convertible top. “How fast you wanna go, Eves?”
Few things exhilarated me more than flying down the highway with the top down. For about a nanosecond I considered how to repair the utter loss of my hairstyling—braid a loose fishtail over your shoulder—then told him, “Kick her in the guts.”
He peeled out, the engine purring with power. Hands raised, I threw my head back and yelled, “Faster!”
At each gear, he redlined before shifting, until the car stretched her legs. As houses whizzed past, I laughed with delight.
The months before were a dim memory compared to this—the sun, the wind, Brandon sliding me excited grins. He was right; this was just what I needed.
Leave it to my teddy bear of a football player to make me feel carefree and sane again.
And didn’t that deserve a kiss?
Unbuckling my seat belt, I clambered up on my knees, tugging my dress up a couple of inches so I could lean over to him. I pressed my lips against the smooth-shaven skin of his cheek. “Just what the doctor ordered, Brand.”
“You know it!”
I kissed his broad jaw, then—as my experienced best friend Melissa had instructed—I nuzzled his ear, letting him feel my breath.
“Ah, Evie,” he rasped. “You drive me crazy, you know that?”
I was getting an idea. I knew I played with fire, teasing him like this. He’d already been reminding me of a promise I’d made right before I left for deportment school: If we were still going out when I turned sixteen (I was a young junior), I would play my V card. My birthday was next Monday—
“What the hell does that guy want?” he suddenly exclaimed.
I drew my head back from Brandon, saw he was glancing past me. I darted a look back, and my stomach plummeted.
A guy on a motorcycle had pulled up right next to us, keeping pace with the car, checking me out. His helmet had a tinted visor so I couldn’t see his face, but I knew he was staring at my ass.
First instinct? Drop my butt in the seat, willing my body to disappear into the upholstery. Second instinct? Stay where I was and glare at the pervert. This was my morning, my laughter, my fast drive in my boyfriend’s luxury sports car.
After a summer spent in a fluorescent hell, I deserved this morning.
When I twisted around to glare over my shoulder, I saw the guy’s helmet had dipped, attention definitely on my ass. Then he slowly raised his head, as if he was raking his gaze over every inch of me.
It felt like hours passed before he reached my eyes. I tugged my hair off my face, and we stared at each other for so long that I wondered when he was going to run off the road.
Then he gave me a curt nod and sped past us, expertly dodging a pothole. Two more motorcycles followed, each carrying two people. They honked and cheered, while Brandon’s face turned as red as his car.
I consoled myself with the knowledge that I’d probably never have to see them again.
Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Immortals After Dark paranormal series and the young adult Arcana Chronicles. Her books have been translated into over twenty foreign languages, garnered three RITA awards, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists in the US and abroad. Before becoming a writer, Cole was a world-ranked athlete, coach, and graduate student. She has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings. She lives in Florida with her family and “far too many animals,” and spends any free time traveling. You can learn more about her and her work at KresleyCole.com or Facebook.com/KresleyCole. Sign up for Kresley’s email newsletter to receive the latest book release updates, as well as info about contests and giveaways (KresleyCole.com/Newsletter).
“An electrifying mix of page-turning, post-apocalyptic adventure and sizzling romance. The Arcana Chronicles will blow you away!”
– P.C. Cast
“The prose crackles with energy and interest, the content is on target in terms of current demand, and this could be the next Twilight.”
“My brain is near exploding with how crazy good this story was… An exceptionally well written plot that will have you turning pages and sticking up a ‘do not disturb’ sign. You won’t want to be interrupted. Especially when Jackson has his smexi Cajun mojo in full swing.”
“Holy Mother of YA Goodness…did Kresley Cole write a book! I’m still getting the chills thinking about this ‘Poison Princess!’… Jack Deveaux, [is] a swoon-worthy character if ever there was one.”
“Kresley Cole knows how to capture an audience because I was gone from page one.”
“Cole knows how to deliver romance, and in POISON PRINCESS, she shows that younger characters can fall just as hard—and they take their readers with them… POISON PRINCESS is a brilliant debut that will snare readers of all ages with its vivid post-apocalyptic world, engrossing romance, and novel magic based on Tarot cards. The next book in The Arcana Chronicles just shot to the top of my wishlist.”
“…this may very well be the best and most original book that I have ever read.”
“I love the sensual creativity that Kresley Cole delivers in her writing. Evie and Jack's electrifying connection is just to die for! Oh! and did I mention that Jack is the ultimate post-apocalyptic badass hero?”
“One of the most original YA debuts of the year that you just can’t forget, “Poison Princess” is just one big book full of awesome.”
“Disturbing, dark, dangerous, terrifying, heartbreaking, and AMAZING!”
“I don't care how old you are or what genre you typically read. Everything you could ask for and more is all here for the taking!”
“Let me tell you right now, this book is so unique! Twenty two teens who all have special powers based on their characteristics of their Tarot card, so they can play their part in an ancient prophesy between good vs evil. Come on, tell me how unique that is? Honestly, I've not read anything like this book before and I'm still in awe with how brilliant it really is."
“I loved EVERY SECOND of this book! Poison Princess is utterly mesmerizing and fiercely captivating!! Without a doubt the BEST post apocalyptic book I’ve read ALL YEAR!”
“Jack Deveaux, you Cajun bad-boy, I love you so hard! Utterly seductive and alluring, Poison Princess is undoubtedly one of the sexiest, hottest YA Dystopianbooks I've read in a long time!”
“Jack and Evie made my heart pang.Poison Princess is full of myths and magic. Unrelenting action. Drama. Romance. It has, quite simply, ensnared my mind and my heart.”
“Jackson is so unbelievably rugged. Translation: HOT!!!!! Another translation: Heart-breaker… His body language is smoldering with heat, his words are dripping with sex, and his actions are obsessed with protecting Evie. He’s perfect—in every way!”
“[Evie and Jack’s] chemistry was electrifying and to die for. Creatively dark and highly seductive, Poison Princess is a tale of a twisted world that will have you appropriately terrified, full of angst and completely captivated long after you have turned the last page.”
“This sexy and dangerous thrill ride will leave you breathless.”
“Jack. Jack. Jack. I could repeat his name over and over and over. Wow, is that man full of sexiness. . Kresley Cole can sure create those boys that will make readers swoon! Can she please create one for me?”
“If I had to put this review into just one sentence, this would be it: Best Book I Have Read In 2012.”
“And guys, Jackson is HOT. He's got a sexy Cajun accent, he's tall, dark and he speaks French. Evie was awesome right from the start, and much like Jackson, she went through a hell of a lot in just this first book. I want to reread this again and again. Starting right this minute!”
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