Published by Valkyrie Press on August 15th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
“All you have to do is surrender…draw on your hatred and pain. Become her: the Empress you were meant to be.”
FINAL DECISION: Sad and powerful and a game changer for the series, this great adventure also has significant things to say about love and pain and grief and survival. And what a cliffhanger!
THE STORY: Beginning immediately after the events of DEAD OF WINTER, Evie is almost killed by the attack of the Emperor and the counter attack by Circe. After witnessing the death of her beloved Jack, Evie is separated from her other love Aric. Now Evie travels along to discover what happened to the two men in her lives. Separated from friends and allies, Evie turns toward darkness as she meets new Arcana players.
OPINION: I have started and rewritten this part of my review several times. This is a difficult book to write about without spoilers and yet this is a book where spoilers can truly spoil the experience of the book. Part of the beauty of this book and indeed the entire series is the surprising journey which always ends on a cliffhanger and leaves readers begging for the next book in the series.
So I’m now begging. Luckily the next book is scheduled for next spring rather than next summer.
As this book begins Evie has lost everything. Throughout this series, just when Evie appears to have reached bottom, more is stripped from her. Evie has been struggling for a while between herself and her red witch side (which Evie sometimes perceives as dark and evil). Having been separated from everything that has meaning for you, Evie once again struggles against the darkness.
At this moment, she meets some new Arcana (so that most of the players are now revealed to to Evie and the reader). I really enjoy the complexity of the characters and their continuing mysteries. The motivations and the question of friends, allies and enemies remain a enduring complication in this book. Friends might be ready to betray; enemies might be doing you a favor.
Something is going on with Evie. She is not herself and it isn’t clear why. One of the strengths of this series is that so much remains unrevealed. As I read each book, I can’t help but ask how many more books are there…and yet, that mystery in itself gives an extra amount of anxiety which deepens the dissonance of the story. After all, Evie doesn’t know where this story is going either.
This book while having all the secrets and action and surprises of an Arcana Chronicles book also has a lot to say about love and grief and surviving. Evie has evolved from the high school student who appeared in the first book.
This book saddened me for several reasons dealing with the plot and relationships. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are going to be some unhappy fans — and some very happy ones. I can only say, despite the cliffhanger, I think things are more complicated than they appear.
I can’t wait until THE DARK CALLING to see if I am right.
WORTH MENTIONING: Without giving spoilers, I want to note that this book made me sad and unhappy at the direction the story went in. Despite that I have great faith that Kresley Cole can make it all work out in the end even if it doesn’t follow what I expected.
CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCANA RISING is the fourth book in the Arcana Chronicles. It is dependent upon the prior books in the series and should not be read as a standalone.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.