Poison Princess

Paperback | July 9, 2013

byKresley Cole

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.

She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life—until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side…

In Poison Princess, New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces a dark and intriguing world, full of unspeakable danger and irresistible romance.

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From the Publisher

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.She could save the world—or destroy it. Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life—until she begins experiencing horrifyi...

Before becoming a writer, Kresley Cole was a world-ranked athlete and coach. Her first novel, The Captain of All Pleasures, was published in 2003. She writes paranormal and historical romance novels including the MacCarrick Brothers trilogy and the Immortals after Dark series. She has won several awards including the 2007 RITA Award fo...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.1 inPublished:July 9, 2013Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442436654

ISBN - 13:9781442436657

Customer Reviews of Poison Princess


Rated 5 out of 5 by from great series!! This series makes me have goosebumps! it leaves you on such a cliff hanger! its really good!! the only thing is when I went to buy the series from my chapters they never have it!! or the new books in the series!! #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This book was so captivating, I couldn't put it down. I can't wait to start the next one in the series.
Date published: 2015-09-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Each book gets better! I can't wait for the next one. Each book has built the world beautifully.
Date published: 2014-11-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Poison Princess This book is the most awesome story from this author. I enjoy reading the book.
Date published: 2014-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Satisfied Good read. On the lookout for sequel
Date published: 2014-10-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfied Not a single disappointment. Kresley Cole always delivers, and she met my every expectation in this series. Written as well as her adult novels, there are strong characters with a well thought out plot. Mystery, intrigue, paranormal, and just the right amount of romance.
Date published: 2014-06-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read This was a good read book. The end lease you wanting MORE!
Date published: 2014-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Once Evie started her story, I couldn't but it down! I felt everything she felt and more. I can only compare this book to The Hunger Games.
Date published: 2014-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Poison Princess Thoughts Such an amazing read! I finished this book in a day! Definitely a different story line than the usual vampires and werewolves! Can't wait for book three!
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Poison Princess Interesting change of read for me. Good page turner.
Date published: 2014-01-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Poison Princess Interesting change of read for me. Good page turner.
Date published: 2014-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Poison Princess Epic! Couldn't put it down! Love Kresley Cole's books!
Date published: 2013-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Poison Princess I had been doubtful of this book when I first read about it. In fact I had only purchased it because it was by one of my favorite authors, but it sat on my kobo unread for months. Finally I had exhausted all my other books so I decided to start it. I was completely enthralled by the end of the first chapter. Totally unable to put it down. It was an amazing book, you fall in love with Evie and are sympathetic to her cause. And don't even get my started on Jack the yummy Cajun. The world they are struggling to survive is terrifying and dangerous, full or bagmen (zombie like creatures) and other horrendous fiends. But on top of the dangers in the outside world Evie struggles to control what's on the inside. Soooo good.
Date published: 2013-10-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Poison Princess Excellent Teen book. Lots of gore though. Be warned!
Date published: 2013-10-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from HMM Great book but can someone tell me why Authors today can't finish a book they have to drag it out into multiple books, instead of taking an idea and running with it finishing it to the end, they stop print and continue on to part two. I think I'm going to stay with the classics at least they are finished works. JMHO
Date published: 2013-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Post Apocolyptic Book I want to start off by saying that the audiobook version of this book was presented amazingly well. Emma Galvin was fantastic as the main narrator and conveyed a real sense of Evie's character. Keith Nobbs did his part so well it was scary - he embodied creepiness itself. I love the premise of this book and how tarot cards are used to hold it all together - it is brilliant. Evie has hallucinations and her mom thinks she's crazy, just like her grandmother. However, it turns out that Evie is one of the Major Arcana, the power cards, of a tarot deck. When the apocalypse comes, Evie and her mother realize that the hallucinations were actually visions. There are voices in Evie's had that speak to her. Then Jack comes along, a poor, rough, Cajun boy. Evie and Jack have to work together to try to find Evie's grandmother in the craziness that is left of the world - bagmen (zombies), soldiers, cannibals, plague, no vegetation,... I alternately liked and disliked both Evie and Jack. There were many times I found them extremely frustrating. Evie spent a lot of time being weak and confused and even whiny. I can see why this was, and I appreciate her growth (and anticipate she will be a much stronger character in the next book), but felt it did go on a bit. Then there is Jack, the ultimate bad boy. He and Evie clearly love each other, even if they can't stand each other. He is rude, rough, tough, can fight and survive on the land, drinks, rides a motorcycle. You get the picture. Again, I found that maybe this stereotype went a bit far. However, I loved the parts about the visions and the tarot deck, the voices and the Arcana. And Cole's writing is beautiful. Her use of language is stunning and completely drew me in. Her descriptions are vivid and engaging. I think those who like dystopian novels will enjoy this different, almost paranormal, take. Despite my frustrations with the two main characters, I did like them and the book enough to eagerly anticipate the next installment.
Date published: 2013-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible 4.5 stars Tarot and Cajuns and zombies, oh my! This was the first book I’d read by Ms Cole and it was hard to believe it was her first YA book. Fascinatingly unique, action-packed, dark, and often disturbing, Poison Princess was unlike anything I’ve ever read. To say the plot of this book was original would be an understatement. It’s rare in post-apocalyptic fiction to see the world both before and after the end, but in Poison Princess we get a look at the world in the days leading up to the apocalypse (the Flash), and the months afterward. I’m not going to lie – I found it terrifying. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t have nightmares. It was so well executed and believable, and the whole thing was vivid, disturbing, and gruesome, but in the best way possible. I absolutely loved Ms Cole’s writing style. It was so fresh, and, like the story itself, it was unlike anything I’ve come across. She had a way of wording things that was so unique, whether it was during descriptions or dialogue, and it made me enjoy the story even more. Evie, the main character, grows a lot through the course of the story. In the beginning she’s this rich kid who’s kind of spoiled, and is the typical pretty cheerleader who can be really snobby, but she has this huge secret weighing on her - she thinks she’s mentally ill. She slowly progresses into a character you can admire and root for. She gets stronger and smarter, and while she still has her moments, she was overall very likeable and her voice felt very authentic. All of her emotions come across as very genuine, and really resonate on the page, whether it’s fear, anger, hopelessness, or determination. Jack, the love interest in the story is…well, he’s something else. I alternately loved and hated him. He was so crude and controlling and even cruel at times, but he was clearly a product of a horrible beginning, so who could blame him really? He was a definite alpha male and even during those times I wanted to punch him, it didn’t stop me from thinking he was sexy as hell. He was protective and fierce, and even when he wanted to throttle Evie, his first instinct (and first priority) was always to keep her safe. Their relationship is full of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and sexual tension. I thought the tarot aspect was fascinating. It was all so tightly woven and complex, and I was eager to see how everything would turn out. With each new revelation, I became more and more engrossed in the story. I can't wait to find out what happens in the next installment. Poison Princess is one of the best post-apocalyptic books I’ve read. It has something for everyone - it’s frightening, realistic, sexy, funny, romantic, thrilling, and so much more. With characters that leap of the page, a compelling plot, and lots of action, Poison Princess is a must read.
Date published: 2013-02-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic This book was really good, I was a bit worried about Kresley Cole going in to the YA genre because I LOVE her adult books and I wasnt sure how the transition would go but man it went beautifully. I thought the whole concept was amazing and the characters were so well rounded. I cannot wait until the next book is out. :0)
Date published: 2013-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So far, it's my favourite YA read of 2012! Poison Princess had me riveted from beginning to end! The book starts off from the male point of view of a madman who is trying to lure young girls to his house. He keeps these girls chained in the basement, and he conducts experiments on them and tortures them. After a young blonde is drawn to his house, he slips a drug into her tea and asks her to tell the story of her life before The Flash, which we learn more about later on in the book. The book describes events that took place leading up to and after The Flash. Evangeline “Evie” Greene is Miss Popularity: She is a beautiful 16 year-old cheerleader whose boyfriend, Brandon Radcliffe, is the star quarterback (naturally!). Everyone seems to like her, and she lives in one of the biggest houses in Sterling, Louisana. Evie had been having a lot of hallucinations about the end of the world, and her mother sent her away to a mental institution for the summer. She is forbidden from communicating with her grandmother because she puts foolish notions in Evie’s head. When she was a young girl, Evie’s grandmother told her that she was the Empress and that one day Evie would rule over all things that root or bloom. Her grandmother had a deck of tarot cards, and she would give them to Evie to look through. Evie doesn’t dare let on to anyone that she is still having the hallucinations for fear of being sent back to the institution. She has a sketchbook where she draws what she sees in her dreams. If anyone were to see her drawings, they would certainly believe that she is crazy! She hears different voices inside her head, and she feels like she is going mad. Some Cajun teenagers from the Bayou are transferred to Evie’s school, and Evie can’t seem to tear her eyes away from 18 year-old Jackson Deveaux. He makes her feel so wanted and desired, and she feels drawn to him in return. They act like they can’t stand each other, but you can feel their passion burning below the surface. Evie knows she has to stay away from Jackson because she is devoted to Brandon. Events begin to unfold, which mirror the sketches that Evie has drawn from her hallucinations. Something that is referred to as “The Flash” occurs, which was believed to be a solar flare. Any living thing that was caught outside when it occurred was incinerated. All plant life was destroyed, bodies of water were evaporated, and no rain has fallen since The Flash. The small number of humans and animals that survived the day of The Flash died in the days that followed because they were unable to survive the ravaged world. Some of people mutated in zombie-like creatures called “Bagmen,” who are afflicted with an unquenchable thirst. Because most natural sources of water have disappeared, the Bagmen have turned to people and become blood-drinkers. Evie and her mother stockpile food and are able to survive, thanks mostly to the private wells on their plantation which provide access to fresh clean water. Eight months after The Flash, Jackson pulls up to Evie’s house on his motorcycle. He fills her in on things that are going on in other parts of the country, and Evie decides that she must go to North Carolina to find her grandmother. Evie is desperate to remember everything that her grandmother told her because she believes that her grandmother holds the key to understanding what is going on, but the doctors at the institution did a good job at trying to brainwash Evie into forgetting the knowledge that her grandmother tried to impart. Jackson is willing to help with Evie’s search for her grandmother, but she has to promise to tell her secrets in return. He finds Evie’s sketchbook and demands to know how she knew that these things were going to happen. Evie isn’t sure that she can trust Jackson, but she knows that she won’t make it alone and she needs his help. I alternated between wanting to slap Jackson to wanting to wrap my arms around him! The sexual tension between Evie and Jackson is so hot. Even though this is a Young Adult book, I think it definitely falls at the upper end of the age-range due to the sexual situations throughout the book. Jackson is the ultimate bad boy with a heart of gold, and he only wants one thing: Evie. He protects her and takes care of her, even forsaking sleep to watch over her, yet Evie still cannot trust him with her secrets. Cole is a new-to-me author, but she has turned me into a fan! I cannot wait to read the next book in this series, Endless Knight, which is expected to be released in October 2013. I enjoyed Emma Galvin’s narration. She puts a lot of emotion into her reading, which is conveyed to the listener. My only complaint is that Galvin started off Evie’s characterization with a Southern accent, which was later lost. For the sake of continuity, I wish she would have kept up the accent throughout the book. This is my first narration by Keith Nobbs, and he was fantastic as evil Arthur. He literally gave me chills!
Date published: 2012-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A perfect mix of steamy romance, unique tarot card lore and visceral action! I've never read a book by Cole before and after reading her first foray into the YA realm, I'm going to have to go back for all those awesome adult sexy times in her Immortals After Dark series. Cole capture's the reader's attention the first few pages in when we're introduced to the very shady character of Arthur as we read from his perspective on ensnaring the innocent and trusting Evie into his sadistic nest. I was genuinely afraid for Evie, but then it turns out Arthur likes a good story and so Evie takes us back to the beginning... Poison Princess is very much a compare and contrast book. Cole really uses this to drive home the point that Evie is completely out of her element. There was Evie's rich, comfortable life before "The Flash" that killed everything, and there was the desperate starving life after. The safe boring relationship she had before, and the all consuming hot blooded male that is Jack after. I loved these important milestones that Cole sets, they leave a scorching impression in your mind as you read and it gives a well rounded out perspective of each character. Evie Greene is the apple of her successful mother's eye, and her life is going splendidly as the most popular girl at school with the rich hot boyfriend and devoted best friend. But then the visions started - horrifying depictions of burning, death and creatures that couldn't possibly be real - until her visions come true. When I first met Evie in the first few pages, I had pegged her as naive and darn near useless. This was pretty much confirmed by the time I got into the thick of it, so don't go in expecting a super strong kick-ass heroine. But surprisingly I didn't find her annoying. She acknowledges her weaknesses, and I have to give her credit for determination and always trying to do the right thing. She's always on this verge of becoming someone new, while fighting her old self. She hasn't quite grasped that it's a changed world, but she's learning and I loved watching how each trial leaves a mark on Evie's unblemished skin. Jack Deveaux, the tough Cajun from the wrong side of the bayou is your classic bad boy that you love, hate and just want to see naked already. A lot of authors use accents in creating a character, usually just by stating it and using some phonetic words to get that accent going in your head. Cole takes it one step further and fully immerses the reader in Cajun French that just oozes old world charm and had me fanning myself every time Jack opened his mouth. Jack is constantly conflicted, which makes him hot and cold towards Evie depending on the situation. It's what drives the bad boy mentality in books, there's moments where I was cheering him on and he's logical, and then moments where he pulls some attitude out of left field and you just want to smack him. But you can always count on 'ole Jack. Cole perfectly balances steamy romance, snippets of humour and visceral action with a unique lore revolving around Tarot cards. Admittedly, I didn't know much about Tarot cards or the symbolism of each card but by the end of this book I really wanted to learn more. Cole also paints a dismal wasteland world full of pillaging militia, hungry cannibals and a unique twist to zombies as Evie and Cole try to make their way to Evie's grandmother to figure out what's going on. Guided by visions and voices, Evie and Jack soon start accruing a little band of misfits. But it's not as simple as that when the pieces start clicking into place and the horrifying truth is revealed that this has all happened before....it's all happening again...and it's going to be down to the last one standing... I thoroughly enjoyed the Tarot card lore, the hot bad boy Jack and the magical elements that Cole manages to weave in. Cole does an excellent job with the tension building in the romance between Jack and Evie - but it got a little bit irksome when the same preconceptions kept driving a wedge between them. When we come full circle at the end, and I look at the beginning I have to do a slow clap here for Cole. It was an incredible ending that left me clamoring for the next installment! This book is like post apocalypse Survivor, X-Men style with a bit of The Hunger Games thrown in.
Date published: 2012-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An apocalypse? Count me in! Poison Princess was totally amazing! Mixed with thrill, romance, lots of emotion and the end of the world, this book made an awesome read! The plot was just amazing and so unique, I'd never read anything like it! The characters surprised me as well! I just couldn't belive how real they seemed! The settings and the way the author described everything just blew me away! :D 3
Date published: 2012-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This one has it all. I don’t know why I decided to read this book…because the cover definitely wasn’t appealing to me at all. For some reason I read it anyway, and I’m so glad I made myself read it. Why I love this book: 1- It has a post-apocalypse setting. 2- The population has been dramatically reduced…survivors are lone humans, Cannibals, Slavers, and Bagman (the infected and contagious “zombie-like” blood/liquid drinkers) 3- It has a fantasy element. Evie isn’t a normal girl…strange visions, hears voices, etc. 4- Jack and Evie’s relationship is perfect. He’s protective, broody, strong, pushy,…and Evie is that stubborn girl who thinks she can take care of herself and take on the world. I will say that the first 12 or so chapters are written “Before The Flash” (Before the Apocalypse)…I didn’t enjoy these chapters as much as the later ones. But the latter chapters definitely make up for the earlier chapters. As soon as The Flash occurs, things really get interesting. Don’t abandon the book before you’ve gotten to The Flash. That’s all I’m gonna say. Overall I gave the book 5 stars. It was awesome to finally read a book with all the elements that I enjoy. Too bad I’ll have to wait forever for book 2 to come out. Whatever… I can say with certainty it will be worth the wait.
Date published: 2012-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best YA novel from an adult author I have read this year! totally awesome! #1 new York Times Bestseller Kresley Cole, who is widely known for her adult romance series Immortals After Dark, nailed the YA genre with her first teen novel Poison Princess! Gripping and highly seductive, Poison Princess is a post-apocalyptic adventure that I devoured in a day! Kresley Cole's debut in the YA genre is probably one of the most original stories I have read this year, and certainly the best novel from an adult fiction author into the young-adult field. Kresley Cole brilliantly balance a twisted post-apocalyptic world that, at times, is even disturbing, with authentic and charismatic characters. The story opens with a highly compelling and intriguing scene of Evangeline (Evie) asking for shelter at Arthur's home (who is a complete mystery). This is actually the present and from here, Evie starts telling her story to Arthur through long flashbacks that don't disrupt the flow of the story. I love how smart was Kresley Cole with this. She definitely kept me turning pages at record speed and once I got back to the presence, it was just to make everything even better. Poison Princess' post-apocalyptic world is definitely something to fear of! The world has been consume by flames, and soon after, the little surviving population is no more than a bunch of cruel men and zombie-like creatures. I loved the particular concept about the Major Arcana tarot cards being actually characters. Miss Cole has created a whole world with ancient wars and powerful characters that made me turn pages at record speed. In addition, I love the sensual creativity that Kresley Cole delivers in her writing. Evie and Jack's electrifying connection is just to die for! Oh! and did I mention that Jack is the ultimate post-apocalyptic badass hero? =9 Brutally amazing and and highly provocative, Poison Princess is a dark tale of love and survival in a devastated world that will seduce you and haunt you even long after you turned the last page. The merciless and terrific cliffhanger alone will leave readers speechless, hurting, and yet craving for more! Oh yes, more!
Date published: 2012-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Fantastic! Holy Tarot Cards. This book starts off with a seriously creepy teen has the apocalypse, Zombies, Militia, A seriously hot Cajun boy whose accent makes my knees weak, and a whole lot of freaky crazy dreams and powers. Kresley Cole knows how to capture an audience because I was gone from page one. And the weird part was that everything was relatively normal (ish) and then when it all starts to happen its like an entire other book. Both before and after are extremely awesome and gripping. And then there are the characters: Evie—If the cover model is Evie then she is damn pretty. Sometimes, scratch that, many times I would like to slap you, but really for everything that you go through you make it seems like your life is normal (again ish). Jackson—I can’t stop thinking about you. And some of the things you say…super hot. And my heart just falters. Mathew—you are a weird kid. So far I think you’re ok though. Finn—You are actually quite funny. Selene—I would like to punch you. With a wide range of characters, all different from one another in many many ways, I was pulled into this world that is both apocalyptic and supernatural. I mean really…can you ask for much else? Good: Evie—for defying expectations. For not being just the “cheerleader” type. For over coming her fears, and being labelled as “crazy”. Jackson—For being Cajun. And being a sexy hot I’m-going-to-tell-you-that-I-hate-you-but-I-still-want-a-taste-of-you kind of guy. Finn—for being you in your cocky surfer way. Bad: I can’t say there was anything bad about this book. Ok, perhaps I will mention that sometimes the reference to Tarot cards and the Arcana were a tad confusing. But did that stop my heart from beating so fast? Did that stop me from reading while I was walking down the street (dangerous, don’t do that at home)? No. Not one bit. Overall (Writing style, story line, and general): Overall the mix of captivating story and characters provides a whirlwind of excitement and emotion for the readers. Not to mention a new take on a popular genre right now. With The Hunger Games and the apocalyptic genre taking over Poison Princess brings about new aspects to an already popular genre taking it one step further into greatness. The novel was decently easy to follow, and grips you into the story of sad and lonely Evie from the beginning. With just the right about of humour, romance, sarcasm, action/adventure, zombies, and thrills Poison Princess is sure to please all types of readers. View more of my review and others at my blog: www.mynotsovacantshelf.blogspot.com
Date published: 2012-08-27

Extra Content

Read from the Book

DAY 6 B.F. STERLING, LOUISIANA “How are you feeling?” Mom asked with an appraising eye. “You sure you’re up for this?” I finished my hair, pasted on a smile, and lied through my teeth, “Definitely.” Though we’d been over this, I patiently said, “The docs told me that settling back into a normal routine might be good for someone like me.” Well, at least three out of my five shrinks had. The other two insisted that I was still unstable. A loaded gun. Trouble with the possibility of rubble. “I just need to get back to school, around all my friends.” Whenever I quoted shrinks to her, Mom relaxed somewhat, as if it was proof that I’d actually listened to them. I could remember a lot of what the docs said—because they’d made me forget so much of my life before the clinic. With her hands clasped behind her back, Mom began strolling around my room, her gaze flickering over my belongings—a pretty, blond Sherlock Holmes sniffing for any secrets she didn’t yet know. She’d find nothing; I’d already hidden my contraband in my book bag. “Did you have a nightmare last night?” Had she heard me shoot upright with a cry? “Nope.” “When you were catching up with your friends, did you confide to anyone where you really were?” Mom and I had told everyone that I’d gone to a special school for “deportment.” After all, you can’t prep a daughter too early for those competitive sororities in the South. In reality, I’d been locked up at the Children’s Learning Center, a behavioral clinic for kids. Also known as Child’s Last Chance. “I haven’t told anyone about CLC,” I said, horrified by the idea of my friends, or my boyfriend, finding out. Especially not him. Brandon Radcliffe. With his hazel eyes, movie-star grin, and curling light-brown hair. “Good. It’s our business only.” She paused before my room’s big wall mural, tilting her head uneasily. Instead of a nice watercolor or a retro-funk design, I’d painted an eerie landscape of tangled vines, looming oaks, and darkening skies descending over hills of cane. I knew she’d considered painting over the mural but feared I’d reach my limit and mutiny. “Have you taken your medicine this morning?” “Like I always do, Mom.” Though I couldn’t say my bitter little pills had done much for my nightmares, they did stave off the delusions that had plagued me last spring. Those terrifying hallucinations had been so lifelike, leaving me temporarily blinded to the world around me. I’d barely completed my sophomore year, brazening out the visions, training myself to act like nothing was wrong. In one of those delusions, I’d seen flames blazing across a night sky. Beneath the waves of fire, fleeing rats and serpents had roiled over Haven’s front lawn, until the ground looked like it was rippling. In another, the sun had shone—at night—searing people’s eyes till they ran with pus, mutating their bodies and rotting their brains. They became zombielike blood drinkers, with skin that looked like crinkled paper bags and oozed a rancid slime. I called them bogeymen. . . . My short-term goal was simple: Don’t get exiled back to CLC. My long-term goal was a bit more challenging: Survive the rest of high school so I could escape to college. “And you and Brandon are still an item?” Mom almost sounded disbelieving, as if she didn’t understand why he would still be going out with me after my three-month absence. “He’ll be here soon,” I said in an insistent tone. Now she’d gotten me nervous. No, no. All summer, he’d faithfully texted me, though I’d only been allowed to respond twice a month. And ever since my return last week, he’d been wonderful—my cheerful, smiling boyfriend bringing me flowers and taking me to movies. “I like Brandon. He’s such a good boy.” At last, Mom concluded this morning’s interrogation. “I’m glad you’re back, honey. It’s been so quiet around Haven without you.” Quiet? I yearned to say, “Really, Karen? You know what’s worse than quiet? Fluorescent bulbs crackling twenty-four hours a day in the center. Or maybe the sound of my cutter roommate weeping as she attacked her thigh with a spork? How about disconnected laughter with no punch line?” But then, that last one had been me. In the end, I said nothing about the center. Just two years and out. “Mom, I’ve got a big day.” I shouldered my backpack. “And I want to be outside when Brand shows.” I’d already made him wait for me all summer. “Oh, of course.” She shadowed me down the grand staircase, our steps echoing in unison. At the door, she tucked my hair behind my ears and gave me a kiss on my forehead, as if I were a little girl. “Your shampoo smells nice—might have to borrow some.” “Sure.” I forced another smile, then walked outside. The foggy air was so still—as if the earth had exhaled but forgotten to inhale once more. I descended the front steps, then turned to gaze at the imposing home I’d missed so much. Haven House was a grand twenty-two-room mansion, fronted by twelve stately columns. Its colors—wood siding of the lightest cream, hurricane shutters of the darkest forest green—had remained unchanged since it’d originally been built for my great-great-great-great-grandmother. Twelve massive oak trees encircled the structure, their sprawling limbs grown together in places, like hundred-ton hydras trapping prey. The locals thought Haven House looked haunted. Seeing the place bathed in fog, I had to admit that was fair. As I waited, I meandered across the front lawn to a nearby cane row, leaning in to smell a purple stalk. Crisp but sweet. One of the feathery green leaves was curled so that it looked like it was embracing my hand. That made me smile. “You’ll get rain soon,” I murmured, hoping Sterling’s drought would finally end. My smile deepened when I saw a sleek Porsche convertible speeding down our oystershell drive, a blur of red. Brandon. He was the most enviable catch in our parish. Senior. Quarterback. Rich. The trifecta of boyfriends. When he pulled up, I opened the passenger door with a grin. “Hey, big guy.” But he frowned. “You look . . . tired.” “I didn’t get to bed till late,” I replied, darting a glance over my shoulder as I tossed my bag into the minuscule backseat. When the kitchen curtain fluttered to the side, I just stopped myself from rolling my eyes. Two years and out . . . “You feeling okay?” His gaze was filled with concern. “We can pick up some coffee on the way.” I shut the door behind me. “Sure. Whatever.” He hadn’t complimented me on my hair or outfit—my Chloé baby-blue sleeveless dress with the hem no more than four regulation inches above the knee, the silky black ribbon that held my hair back in a curling ponytail, my matching black Miu Miu ankle-wrap heels. My diamond earrings and Patek Philippe wristwatch served as my only jewelry. I’d spent weeks planning this outfit, two days in Atlanta acquiring it, and the last hour convincing myself I’d never looked better. He hiked his wide shoulders, the matter forgotten, then peeled down Haven’s drive, tires spitting up an arc of shell fragments as we zoomed past acre after acre of cane. Once we’d reached the highway, a seamed and worn-out stretch of old Louisiana road, he said, “You’re so quiet this morning.” “I had weird dreams last night.” Nightmares. Nothing new there. Without fail, my good dreams were filled with plants. I’d see ivy and roses growing before my eyes or crops sprouting all around me. But lately in my nightmares, a crazed redheaded woman with gleaming green eyes used those same plants to . . . hurt people, in grisly ways. When her victims begged for mercy, she would cackle with delight. She was cloaked and partially hooded, so I couldn’t make out all of her face, but she had pale skin and green ivylike tattoos running down both her cheeks. Her wild red hair was strewn with leaves. I called her the red witch. “Sorry,” I said with a shiver. “They kind of put me in a funk.” “Oh.” His demeanor told me he felt way out of his depth. I’d once asked him if he had nightmares, and he’d looked at me blankly, unable to remember one. That was the thing about Brandon—he was the most happy-go-lucky boy I’d ever met. Though he was built like a bear—or a pro football player—his temperament was more adoring canine than grizzly. Secretly, I put a lot of store in him, hoping his normal could drag me back from my wasteland-visions brink. Which was why I’d fretted about him finding another girl and breaking up with me while I was locked up at CLC. Now it seemed like at least one thing was going to work out. Brandon had stayed true to me. With every mile we drove away from Haven, the sun shone brighter and brighter, the fog lifting. “Well, I know how to put my girl in a good mood.” He gave me his mischievous grin. I was helpless not to be charmed. “Oh, yeah, big guy? How’s that?” He pulled off the road under the shade of a pecan tree, tires popping the fallen pecans. After waiting for the dust to pass us, he pressed a button and put down the convertible top. “How fast you wanna go, Eves?” Few things exhilarated me more than flying down the highway with the top down. For about a nanosecond I considered how to repair the utter loss of my hairstyling—braid a loose fishtail over your shoulder—then told him, “Kick her in the guts.” He peeled out, the engine purring with power. Hands raised, I threw my head back and yelled, “Faster!” At each gear, he redlined before shifting, until the car stretched her legs. As houses whizzed past, I laughed with delight. The months before were a dim memory compared to this—the sun, the wind, Brandon sliding me excited grins. He was right; this was just what I needed. Leave it to my teddy bear of a football player to make me feel carefree and sane again. And didn’t that deserve a kiss? Unbuckling my seat belt, I clambered up on my knees, tugging my dress up a couple of inches so I could lean over to him. I pressed my lips against the smooth-shaven skin of his cheek. “Just what the doctor ordered, Brand.” “You know it!” I kissed his broad jaw, then—as my experienced best friend Melissa had instructed—I nuzzled his ear, letting him feel my breath. “Ah, Evie,” he rasped. “You drive me crazy, you know that?” I was getting an idea. I knew I played with fire, teasing him like this. He’d already been reminding me of a promise I’d made right before I left for deportment school: If we were still going out when I turned sixteen (I was a young junior), I would play my V card. My birthday was next Monday— “What the hell does that guy want?” he suddenly exclaimed. I drew my head back from Brandon, saw he was glancing past me. I darted a look back, and my stomach plummeted. A guy on a motorcycle had pulled up right next to us, keeping pace with the car, checking me out. His helmet had a tinted visor so I couldn’t see his face, but I knew he was staring at my ass. First instinct? Drop my butt in the seat, willing my body to disappear into the upholstery. Second instinct? Stay where I was and glare at the pervert. This was my morning, my laughter, my fast drive in my boyfriend’s luxury sports car. After a summer spent in a fluorescent hell, I deserved this morning. When I twisted around to glare over my shoulder, I saw the guy’s helmet had dipped, attention definitely on my ass. Then he slowly raised his head, as if he was raking his gaze over every inch of me. It felt like hours passed before he reached my eyes. I tugged my hair off my face, and we stared at each other for so long that I wondered when he was going to run off the road. Then he gave me a curt nod and sped past us, expertly dodging a pothole. Two more motorcycles followed, each carrying two people. They honked and cheered, while Brandon’s face turned as red as his car. I consoled myself with the knowledge that I’d probably never have to see them again.

Editorial Reviews

“And guys, Jackson is HOT. He's got a sexy Cajun accent, he's tall, dark and he speaks French. Evie was awesome right from the start, and much like Jackson, she went through a hell of a lot in just this first book. I want to reread this again and again. Starting right this minute!”