Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

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The Arcana Chronicles bk 1. Simon & Schuster, 2012. ISBN 9780857079190.
(Age: 15+) Paranormal. Tarot. YALSA's Teen Top 10 2013. In a post-apocalyptic world, where a Flash has killed most of the human race, people are trying to survive. 16 year old Evie Green, who ended up in a mental institution because of the hallucinations she had been having, is frantic to get back to her normal life. But that is not to be. Desperate she turns to Jack Devereau, the boy from the wrong side of the bayou, and they race off to find the source of her visions. They discover others who have been called - 22 teens will re-enact an ancient battle to the death.
This was an exciting read that girls who like paranormal stories would enjoy. The dystopian background provides a lot of tension with people being turned into blood-suckers, a militia that rapes women and the threat of cannibalism. The use of tarot cards provided an original way of setting up the characters, and there was lots of action with sword play and motor bike rides.
Jack Devereau is a very appealing bad boy, speaking in Cajun patois, and the budding romance between Evie is handled well. A few side tracks of jealousy and angst keep the tension going. Evie grows in strength and character throughout as she learns that she represents the Empress card in the Tarot pack. She can make plants grow, a fabulous ability in a blight stricken world but can she save the world?
This is the first book in the Arcana Chronicles. Ending on a cliff-hanger, the conclusion is sure to entice readers into the series. It is followed by book 2, Endless Knight. Cole is an established author for adults and her flowing prose and plot make for a light read.
Pat Pledger