**spoiler alert** Having enjoyed Kresley Cole's adult novels, I was interested to see what her YA would be like. It's definitely smoldering, in more w...more**spoiler alert** Having enjoyed Kresley Cole's adult novels, I was interested to see what her YA would be like. It's definitely smoldering, in more ways than one. The heat between Evangeline (Evie) Greene and Jackson (Jack) Deveaux sizzles on the page, while the real burning fire of the Flash - the end of the world event that has killed almost everyone on Earth, turning the survivors into evil creatures called Bagmen who eat anything with liquid, or plain ole cannibals, or power-hungry militants - is gruesome enough to give you nightmares. Among the few non-evil survivors are 16-year-old Evie and the motorcycle-riding, whiskey-drinking, bad-ass bad boy Jack.
**SPOILER ALERT. PLOT DISCUSSED**
Former schoolmates from opposite sides of the bayou in Louisiana, the book opens with Evie talking about what happened in the week leading up to the Flash, the end of the world as everyone knew it. It's the first week of school and as one of the most popular and richest girls in the county (cheerleader dating the hot quarterback, etc.), Evie is trying her hardest to pretend it's business as usual. What she's concealing is the summer she spent in a mental institution, drugged and brainwashed into denying her psychotic episodes. She sees things - burning skies, plants that come alive - and often sleepwalks while having nightmares. Her mother sends her away, denying everything, and Evie is forced to play along. Everything is okay at first, but despite taking her meds, the hallucinations begin to happen all the time, and the voices in her head - voices of other teenagers - just won't stop. She also can't stop the fleeting flashbacks to a memory of her grandmother who used to tell her about Tarot; the characters were real in her grandmother's stories, not just symbols on cards. Add to all that the pressure her boyfriend is putting on her to have sex, the intense attraction and dislike she feels for new kid Jack Deveaux, and Evie is a hot mess.
Then the Flash happens, the scorching sun burning everyone and everything exposed. Evie and her mother were able to hide in their basement, but almost everyone else they know wasn't so lucky. With supplies running low, Evie makes a desperate discovery - her blood brings plants to life. Secretly tending a garden in her barn, Evie tries to not feel desperate at her mother's weakening condition, the rumors of the military and cannibals heading her way (not sure which is worse - to be repeatedly raped or murdered and eaten?), and she has no way out. Until Jack Deveaux rides up on his motorcycle one day, just ahead of the approaching army. When her mother dies in the night, Evie agrees to go with Jack on one condition - he take her to find her grandmother who Evie secretly thinks may have some of the answers to her hallucinations.
Evie has begun to realize that Tarot is real, that the voices in her head are really the voices of other teenagers who represent other Tarot characters, and that Evie herself is one of them. Along the way, Evie & Jack pick up other teenage survivors - Matthew, Selena, and Finneas - who Evie recognizes as other Tarot characters. It seems each Tarot character has a choice, whether to fight on the side of good or evil, though Evie has a hard time recognizing this battle within herself. As Evie, Jack, and the crew continue on their dangerous cross-country journey, they are fighting an uphill battle against almost everything - limited food and water, the Bagmen, the cannibals, the army they have to avoid, and most of all, their attraction to each other. Jack and Evie have an undeniable connection, Matthew loves Evie but like a brother, Selena wants Jack, while Finn wants Selena. It's all raging battles and raging hormones as the crew tries to adjust to each other, their powers, and what to do next. Both Jack and Evie have secrets to hide, and despite all they've been through, both don't quite trust each other. As Evie gets closer to realizing just who and what she really is, she realizes one of the things that scares her the most is that Jack will reject who she may turn out to be - she's not just the Poison Princess, she is the Empress, the one who will win over the other Arcana, the other members of the Tarot, by seeing them all dead with their glyphs written on her body.(less)
**spoiler alert** Melissa Marr hits it out of the park again in this book that took everyone – herself, her publisher, and her fans, as she was not sc...more**spoiler alert** Melissa Marr hits it out of the park again in this book that took everyone – herself, her publisher, and her fans, as she was not scheduled to release this year – by great surprise. What’s not so surprising is that if this book had any amount of graphic sex in it, it would be shelved in the paranormal adult romance section. It doesn’t, making it both appropriate and perhaps a tad disappointing for readers 16+. What it doesn’t have in sex, it makes up for in spades with magic and witchcraft, casual and purposeful violence, harsh emotional realities, and that romantic and sexual tension that can only be created by two people destined to be on opposing teams while being together. When you’re introduced to a centuries-old battle between witches and daimons, what else can you expect?
**Spoiler alert! Plot discussed!**
Mallory is, unknown to her, the missing daughter of Marchosias, ruler of the daimon world. Hidden for 17 years by her birth mother, Selah, a daimon Watcher, and her adopted father, Adam, a very powerful witch, in the Earth realm, Mallory was raised to hate and fight against daimons. Adam has used his magic to keep her from knowing her true daimon self, and that she is why they keep moving so often. He also uses magic to erase her memory of fighting the daimons Marchosias has sent looking for her, and that the new boy, the first boy, she has ever liked, is in fact Kaleb, a cur from the daimon realm, a part-time assassin hired to discover Mallory’s whereabouts, and one of the final contestants in the fight-to-the-death competition held at the Carnival of Souls. Once he does meet Mallory, the game changes, as they are both unprepared for the connection they have.
Kaleb recognizes Mallory as his mate, and when Adam goes missing in the daimon realm, Kaleb will stop at nothing – even aligning himself with Aya, the half-witch, half-daimon child of Evelyn, head of the Council of Witches, and Aya’s familiar, the daimon Belias – to help Mallory travel to the daimon realm, explore her daimon nature, stand up to her birth father Marchosias, and save her adopted father Adam.
I can’t help but be reminded of the machinations of the ruling families during the bloodiest years of European history, and half expect to see these twisted plot lines in a Showtime series like The Tudors someday. Earth vs. daimon realm, witches vs. daimons, parents vs. children, love vs. hate – all face off in Melissa Marr’s newest book, first in what is sure to be a trilogy or series.(less)
I had the chance to read this in manuscript form when I was interning at HMH. LOVED IT! It is the best kind of female fantasy heroine. Can hardly wait...moreI had the chance to read this in manuscript form when I was interning at HMH. LOVED IT! It is the best kind of female fantasy heroine. Can hardly wait for the rest of the series.(less)
Absolutely delightful. I don't know why it took me so long to read it, as it was on my TBR shelf from the moment I saw the title - being a fan of the...moreAbsolutely delightful. I don't know why it took me so long to read it, as it was on my TBR shelf from the moment I saw the title - being a fan of the absurdly long title, such as Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - but I will be forever grateful to my coworker Roger who finally literally pressed it upon me. Much like the content of the books that have those other titles, the content of this book lives up to its title as well. In fact, I'm having difficulty coming up with a book that has such a deliciously involved title that doesn't live up to it. Can you? Any novel with a long name really has to be strong enough (and by that I mean interesting enough) to live up to it, doesn't it?
Clearly I digress. It's difficult to explain why this book is so fantastic, and to explain why, think of The Phantom Tollbooth. I dare anyone who has read that book to sum it up concisely. There were so many times while reading this book that I thought of TPT, not because they're really all that alike in terms of story, but more that they're alike in terms of the sly way the authors used a child's fantasy novel to impart little wise asides about our daily lives. They're similar in that "out of the mouths of babes" kind of thing that you get from other books like Winnie-the-Pooh and Alice in Wonderland, too, where a childlike innocence and curiosity underscores some of our deepest thoughts and brings to light some of our most foolish actions. All without condemning us, simply pointing them out, as if they're saying, just in case you missed the fact that as adults we're sometimes selfish asses, and here's why that might be, and here's how to maybe stop. But, you know, without being too pretentious about it. Now on to what the story is actually about.
September is a little mostly-heartless girl from Omaha who is whisked away for an adventure in Fairyland by the Green Wind and his Leopard. Queen Mallow has gone missing and The Marquess has replaced her and so instead of everything in Fairyland being sugar and spice and all that's nice, the Wyvern and fairies have their wings chained and other bad things like that are happening. September doesn't really know much about the history of this, she is mostly just trying to have an adventure, but she has read fairy tales before and so recognizes a quest when she sees one. In addition to the Green Wind, along her quest September will meet a red Wyvern, a blue Marid, a Panther, a few fairies, a changeling, some witches, a woman made entirely of soap, and last but not least, a paper lantern. All play integral roles - some to hurt, some to help - as September loses a shoe but gets a new pair, is gifted a jacket and sash, collects a spoon, a wrench, and the most loyal key ever, and don't forget, sails around Fairyland on a ship of her own making (losing her heart and her shadow in the process). If all of that doesn't sound intriguing enough to make you read it, then I don't know what will.(less)