Kresley Cole is known primarily for her super sexual, often glaringly misogynistic, yet embarrassingly addictive Immortals After Dark series full of sexy brooding vampires, Valkyrie, demons, etc. She then moved on to 50 Shades of Rough Sex with the Game Maker series. Now she’s encroaching into YA Twihard territory with the first book in the Arcana Chronicles.
Regardless of your opinion of Kresley Cole you have to admire her ability to accurately identify profitable niche markets where her brand of sexual wish-fulfillment will sell. Most authors will ride the horse they rode in on until it’s dead. Not Kresley. She’s too busy enjoying her mountains of cash to worry about plebian things like horses.
And despite my better instincts, I continue to fund her cash mountains. Kresley Cole books are like candy corn. They’re terrible for me and I always feel a little gross after I eat them. Yet the minute they show up in the stores I’m helpless not to buy them. Damn you Kresley.
The Poison Princess is about Evie, a rich, gorgeous, popular, high school cheerleader who dates Brand, the Porche-driving captain of the football team. Evie isn’t mean, in fact she’s unfailingly nice and beloved by all. Things are going pretty great for Evie except for the unfortunate fact that she’s plagued by vicious nightmares, hears voices, and just spent the summer being drugged to within an inch of her life in what sounds like the worst mental health clinic ever. The visions and nightmares continue but she’s determined to fake it through the next 2 years of high school.
Daryl Dixon Jackson Deveaux is the roguish Cajun boy who can’t seem to take his eyes of Evie because she is a puzzle he means to solve, even going so far as to almost-kiss her at her surprise 16th birthday party. “I’m goan to kiss you, cher.”
Some of you may already recognizing the Twilight-esque theme where Evie is a very special snowflake who has besotted two attractive alpha-males, one a sweet loveable golden retriever, and the other a darkly seductive bad boy. Thankfully for all involved we are spared the sparkle-love three-way by a sudden apocalypse that burns the world into a desert, killing off the vast majority of the population, including Evie’s dullard boyfriend. And although I don’t often say this, “Thank God for the apocalypse!” because we finally move on to some bigger challenges than, “Should Evie give it up to her boyfriend?”
Evie realizes that her visions have come to pass and she has some strange but powerful capabilities, like growing lush plants in the arid dirt using her blood. Soon Jackson shows up on a motorcycle and the two set off to find Evie’s Grandma who is most likely dead but might just have all the answers that Evie needs.
Jackson is the perfect protector: his rough Cajun upbringing combined with a few months with a post-apoclyptic military unit have given him all the knowledge and skills he needs to successfully navigate starvation, dwindling gasoline stores, and zombie hoards. He’s a great tortured hero who is gruffly protective but also openly aware of how entirely unprepared Evie is to survive in this new world.
But then Kelsey has to ruin the fun wish-fulfillment joys of our brooding bad-boy hero by making Jackson a borderline alcoholic (they can barely find enough food to sustain life yet he always has a bottle of JD handy). Evie is no better, she’s entirely useless and makes absolutely zero effort to develop any helpful skills. My 5 year old is more helpful in a crisis then she is. And worse, Jackson is given horrendous lines like this one:
“Hell Evie, I like where you’re goan with this” -he’d motioned to indicate my chest-“I want to see where you end up.”
So girls, when the apocalypse comes, it’s entirely OK to make no effort to learn how to care for yourself, use a weapon, or siphon gas from a lawn mower. But make sure you are super hot because you’re going to need some serious sex appeal to find a solid alpha-male to keep you from becoming zombie chow.
Jackson and Evie have good chemistry but are kept apart by the big misunderstanding.
Jackson still thinks Evie holds a candle for her dead dullard boyfriend (WTF Jackson? She barely cared about this guy when he was alive.) And that she’s too good for him (seriously Jackson, Evie wouldn’t last the day without you). Evie thinks that if she tells Jackson about her strange powers (which at this point amounts to occasionally growing dainty claws) he’ll be horrified and leave her. She also wants some sort of commitment of monogamy from him which is laughable given that Evie is practically one of the last women alive on the planet. Also she’s incapable of expressing any of her concerns to him so while she’s all verclempt about monogamy, at no point does she actually speak the words, “Despite the utter lack of women living in the world today, I would like to establish that we have a monogamous relationship before we make with the sex.”
Eventually they run into Selena who is everything you would want in a post-apocalypse partner: sexy, capable, confident, and well-equipped (this is not a reference to her having spectacular bosoms, she literally has a huge hoard of survival gear and canned foods). Selena is totally into the sexy Cajun who keeps threatening to give up on Evie because he mistakes her withholding behavior as “not having feels.”
Eventually they bump into a few other people and everybody (except for Jackson) has mysterious special powers that are somehow related to Tarot Cards and they need to figure out how to harness those powers because Death (an actual person) is coming for them and they’re all part of the Arcana who are wrapped up in some sort of “there can be only one” type of epic post-apocalyptic battle scenario.
There are many problematic things going on here but despite them all I compulsively read on and even (so ashamed to admit this) ordered the sequel. Maybe there is something about Kresley and her ability to write smouldering bad boys. Maybe I just need therapy.
Kresley Cole, why can’t I quit you?!?!