The Arcana Chronicles began with an interesting premise: young adults with fantastic powers who battle it out in an “there can be only one” apocalypse battle of the fittest. And because it’s Kresley Cole it’s full of sexy characters who smolder. And of course the obligatory YA love triangle. The whole thing is loosely built upon the idea of each character = tarot card.
Basically it was my catnip.
Now we’re four books in on a series that doesn’t seem like it’ll end soon. Or ever. Because each book introduces new characters and expands on the basic concept. Which is great for the Arcana Chronicles TV show, far less so for book readers. Anyhoo…
Arcana Rising (#4) is barely a book. A book has a story. It has a conflict. It has rising action/tension. It has resolution. This has none of those things.
This book is a series of ideas that don’t go anywhere. Themes are developed then abandoned. Our protagonist, Evie, has developed over the previous books from a hapless cheerleader to a warrior who could potentially win the Arcane battle. To a woman who is almost worthy of the two swoon-worthy alpha males who adore her. Until now. Sadly.
Extremely Mild Spoilers Below
Arcana Rising starts with an interesting premise as Evie goes dark, going on a vengeance tear. Sadly that theme is quickly abandoned. Then she temporarily partners up with a new character. But he moves on. Then big romance happens.
The Jack/Death love triangle has been developed over three books and regardless of your feelings about love triangles in general this one has been a lot of fun. Fans of the series love to debate who Evie should be with and the author has managed to keep both balls in the air for three solid books, an impressive feat. (Sidenote: Death can’t touch any other person without them immediately dying so if she doesn’t choose him he’s doomed to an eternity of solitude. Not saying she has to choose him but come on guys. I mean really.)
Three books running up to the moment where Evie finally selects a suitor and consummates their love (previous books were limited to swoony dialogue and heavy petting). This book contains the big moment that was sadly underwhelming and undeveloped.
Then Evie’s powers start to wane. Because that’s what happens when you give it up ladies. You lose your powers.
Back to the “this is not a book” issue, Evie spends 50% of the book doing a whole lot of nothing. She’s not in mortal peril. She’s not trying to accomplish a goal. Half of this book has no plot at all. Evie is chilling out, wondering what’s going to happen when the big battle happens. Because presumably she’ll be useless as she sexed all her powers away.
And then there’s the big twist. Guys. This was a terrible twist. Just terrible. And unearned. And ridiculous. And UGH.
Additionally it’s clear that Kresley has no intention to let the developments in this book undermine the love triangle that she’s lovingly established in the first three books. Which is a shame because she’s obviously setting Evie up for a future romantic reunion. And it’ll be impossible to root for Evie after the choices and consequences that emerged in this book.
Kresley Cole is not beloved among Cannonballers but I have always found her compulsively readable, flaws and all. The Arcana Chronicles is such an original concept (happily void of vampires, werewolves, etc.). But this was flatly dull. The sex was dull. The story was dull. And the plot choices seem more driven by “how long can I keep this thing going” vs. “how do I craft an engaging coherent story.”