Arcana Rising (The Arcana Chronicles #4)
by Kresley Cole
Valkyrie Press | August 15, 2016
       When the battle is done . . .
       The Emperor unleashes hell and annihilates an army, jeopardizing the future of mankind - but Circe strikes back. The epic clash between them devastates the Arcana world and nearly kills Evie, separating her from her allies.
       And all hope is lost . . .
       With Aric missing and no sign that Jack and Selena escaped Richter's reach, Evie turns more and more to the darkness lurking inside her. Two Arcana emerge as game changers: one who could be her salvation, the other a seductive nightmare.
       Vengeance becomes everything.
       To take on Richter, Evie must reunite with Death and mend their broken bond. But as she learns more about her role in the future - and her chilling past - will she become a monster like the Emperor? Or can Evie and her allies rise up from Richter's ashes, stronger than ever before? 

I've been reading The Arcana Chronicles since the seventh grade, and I loved the story back then. I love the concept of the series-tarot card figures taking human form/human embodiment of tarot characters-because it's beyond original. It hasn't been done, and I still haven't seen anything like it. Because it's been a while, my tastes have "deviated" from my seventh-grade tastes. TAC is a ROMANCE DRIVEN series, and it's gradually becoming even more, which I don't like anymore. I went in expecting to hate this book, and leave it in the past where it belongs, but I'm still addicted. It's such an addictive series.

I've been waiting for Arcana Rising for months. It first came out in paperback and I didn't get it because my other books were hardback. When the hardcover editions were released, I purchased it with my 40% off coupon ASAP. When I got it, I threw a whole first-world-problem book-nerd OCD tantrum. I was complaining how the text/formatting looked terrible - thin, light-weight font that's hard on the eyes. I was also throwing a tantrum over the wonky/overlapping title, the length of the book (it's quite short), the new publisher and most importantly... THAT IT'S TALLER THAN THE OTHERS AND I CAN'T PLACE IT IN ITS DESIGNATED SPOT! I had a fit, and I am ashamed... I just want them to look nice... I still do.

Once I actually started reading, I was obsessed. Kresley Cole starts off/picks up the story with a BANG. Although this book is a tad short, it packs a big punch. It's action-packed and nail-biting. The first couple chapters allowed readers to see some character growth in Evie. She's independent, figuratively and literally, and so much stronger! She was navigating the world After Flash with a renewed purpose, knowledge on survival and she's honed in her powers. She became a top dog and all-around Bad Bitch. I thought it was great to see this fierceness by itself. The strength got to shine and wasn't overshadowed by characters or drama. She was alone and didn't have any help. I finally got to see what three books did to a character! Unfortunately, the independence that took three books in the making went to shit when Evie was comfortable again... She starts depending on the "strong men" around her again...

We're also introduced to more of the Arcana, and we get to learn their abilities. Think X-Men: Apocalypse on crack, with a couple of energy drinks. It's so cool learning and seeing everybody's potential. 

Everything we thought we knew went out the window. We see DRAMATIC, INTENSE character changes. It was such a character transformation because it was such a departure from what we know. Shit really hits the fan. There's alliances, back stories, more back stories, history of the games, ACTION, and A LOT of romance. It's entertaining, but romance is what drives the story. Lovers are split, heartbreak leads you to do things, and you find love once more. That really sums up this installment. It's a more "mature" YA now. The Adult Romance writer side takes a lot more control.

In my notes, I was quite aggressive with the writing. I noted how it didn't seem New York Times Bestselling worthy, which is really harsh. It has the entertainment value and style of [teenage] fanfiction writer, not a professional, also really harsh. I didn't appreciate the onomatopoeia and the "attempt" at humor/being relevant to teenagers/young adults. It's a bit funny, but not executed as well as JLA because it didn't blend. It tried hard to relate to YA readers, but it didn't. I wish there was a bit more finesse to elevate the writing. There's also the cringey-teenage-emo-phase "metaphors" about the heart being a tourniquet, carousel, roulette, something like that. Even saying it is confusing! It's Evanescence gone wrong! JLA executes it well because it's her; it's personal. She doesn't have to try, and we see how effortless it is.

I appreciate that the author included diversity. We're introduced to a polyamorous relationship that includes a Hispanic character. The series was always somewhat diverse, but it always has more added. I just wanted to point that out because everyone's begging for diversity. Although diversity is present, it doesn't add to the story; it's just there.

Entertaining installment, but it's another set-up for something bigger. Arcana Rising and The Dead of Winter seem like fillers that lead to something bigger. I just want the final battle.

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