In the sequel to Poison Princess, Kresley Cole continues on with Evie, the Empress of the tarot deck, as she struggles in a post-apocalyptic world while also trying to survive a game in which a number of teenagers try to kill each other to be "the last card standing." This one picks up right were the last one left off, with Evie having defeated Arthur and being still a little blood-crazy, and with Jack not knowing what the hell to do with this girl who has very suddenly turned out to be something supernatural.
Now, I linked to my review of Poison Princess because I brought up a few points in it that I would like to re-address here, mostly dealing with Jack. First, I was interested in how Jack's Catholicism would mix in with what is, quite frankly, a very pagan world and game. And to answer that...they don't. While Evie wonders about the issue a bit, Cole pretty much just brushes the whole issue aside and never really addresses it. Jack just loves Evie for Who She Is. I think this could have really been an interesting conflict, and I'm very disappointed that it was so quickly abandoned. Second, let's talk Jack again. Jack isn't in the picture for a lot of this book, because Evie gets kidnapped by Death. That said, in the first part Jack is...weird...and in the second part, revelations about him reveal him to be just as controlling and stalker-like as he was in the first book. Not that Death is much better, though he is at least a little more forthright in his intentions.
Still, putting forth Death and Jack as Evie's two romantic interests feels a little...weird. She doesn't have a genuinely nice, if forceful, guy to choose. She just has Jack and Death, neither of whom is a model citizen and both who seem to want Evie for all the wrong reasons. Jack just wants her, but doesn't actually seem to care about her beyond that, for all that he says he does. He doesn't trust her and he feels the need to steal things, like her boyfriend's phone or the tape Arthur made of her life, in order to learn about her, because he can't be bothered to ask her, or he won't believe her if she does tell him--because it's so bad that she didn't tell him she's a total supernatural freak, right? And Death wants her dead, obviously, except he doesn't, and it's all...weird. His reasons are better than Jack's, but his behavior often isn't.
As the book goes on, more Arcana are introduced, all of whom are weird in their own ways and most of whom want to kill the others. We get to see the Hierophant, who heads up a bunch of cannibals, as well as the Tower, the World, Justice, the Devil, and Strength. And Death, of course, who is...awesome. I loved Death. I think his backstory is much more complex than Jack's, which made his actions much more realistic, and while he was manipulative, he was blatantly so. He was up front with Evie, even as he was manipulating her, and I liked him a hell of a lot more for that than I liked Jack, who was just an asshole.
As for plot, Cole dives into this one and goes. It moves a hell of a lot faster than Poison Princess did. There's no mucking about with a third of the book being in high school. Instead, this just goes from one thing to the next to the the next, until Evie ends up at Death's castle, at which point it slows down significantly to allow Death and Evie to get to know each other. That part did not go quickly, at all, and I didn't really buy the development of their relationship, which didn't really happen until the book was pretty much over. Cole definitely leaves this one as a cliffhanger, which made me glad the third one was already out, because I rushed straight off, bought it, and devoured it in one setting.
So, overall? Trash. But delicious trash. God, I hate it when they do this to me...
3.5 stars out of 5.