Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody (The Shadow Game #1)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Summary: Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.
Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…
And she’ll need to play.
My Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾
My Thoughts: Ace Of Shades is a character-driven story set in a fantasy world with cons, casinos, politics, and so much more! Enne is on a mission to find her mother in the City Of Sin, with danger and intrigue at every turn! Foody’s immersive tale, engaging main characters, and unique world makes Ace Of Shades a fun YA Fantasy!
Last year I read Amanda Foody’s debut novel Daughter Of The Burning City and really enjoyed it!
I was anticipating Ace Of Shades to get even more of the things I loved in Foody’s previous book and just getting immersed in another creative and unique fantasy world!
While there were definitely elements I liked, I was sadly disappointed with this book! Its sad because I was really looking forward to enjoying but, it happens!
And the main characters really made had me invested by the end of Ace Of Shades, so I’m definitely not too bummed, because the ending has me wondering where the journeys of Enne & Levi in book 2, King Of Fools, will be headed!
The unlikely duo find themselves working together and seeing how they change and grow over the course of the story was one of the highlights of this book too.
Ace Of Shades follows Enne Salta who is looking for her adopted mother Lourdes in New Reynes. The transition from Bellamy Finishing School to the City Of Sin, isn’t easy for her as she has to set up a new life for herself in order to get the answers she’s looking for!
Then there’s Levi Glaisyer, a con man & street lord who is stuck working cons and getting money back in order to pay off dangerous lords and influential people who may want him dead.
Enne basically has to set up a life for herself in this new city to not catch suspicion as she works with Levi to find out more about where Lourdes went and where she may be and may even learn more about herself along the way!
What I really enjoyed about this book, besides the main characters, was the creativity of Foody’s world, plot, magic system, and overall how the story easily immerses you and it definitely kept me invested!
With the way Foody crafts her stories, I never know what’s coming next and that’s what makes her books so much fun to read!
With Ace Of Shades being told through a dual 3rd person POV, I found it really worked for the story to really develop and build Enne & Levi’s characters, while allowing you to see differing perspectives on the world of New Reynes!
New Reynes is an interesting world with casinos, magic, gambling, etc., and the way Foody describes the world really creates that atmosphere! (For me, I definitely found this book to be atmospheric in the style of Caraval & Six Of Crows).
Its also so great to see diversity in fantasy: There’s Levi who is black & bisexual, Japanese rep. from a side character, & according to another review I read on Goodreads (though I’ll have to double check) there’s also gender-fluid rep (Enne’s adpoted mother: Lourdes).
There were so many creative elements that Foody weaved into the story that I really enjoyed reading about: The magic system (called Talents) which are divided by Split & Blood talents. They are magical or unique abilities inherited by each parent with one being stronger (or more dominant) than the other.
The creativity of that made the story really stand out and add a unique element to the idea of magical abilities! I also liked how Foody used it to explain family connections (as Enne later on, meets someone with her last name).
Other unique and fun fantasy elements include: currency in the form of orbs called Volts and the use of Omertas (or magical commands).
I also enjoyed the way Foody weaved together her plot. It really made it easy to follow and I never found it all too predictable, which was good!
Similar to Daughter Of The Burning City, the romance that develops is slow and doesn’t really become a central part of the main plot, but does keep you interested to see what happens between the 2 main characters!
Now onto the elements of Ace Of Shades that had me disappointed:
1.The Pacing: If I spend too long on a single book (w/ this one it was close to 2 weeks), I usually end up not really loving it all too much! With this book, I just felt the writing could have sped up the story and have it not drag as much as it did. To me it felt really slow.
2. Made-Up Swear Words: I’ve definitely seen reviews from others who weren’t a fan of this either. It just ended up coming across as really cringey to me.
3. Repetition: Throughout the book, there were certain lines repeated way too often. While I saw it as Foody wanting to use them to emphasize a character, their growth, or show symbolism, for me it really didn’t work. With the repetition, I found those lines just ended up losing their meaning & just didn’t flow well.
For example: “She was a pistol wrapped up in silk. She was a blade disguised as a girl.” This was a common line that was used to describe Enne and while the line really stuck out to me at first, it just became annoying to keep reading it so many times, over & over, throughout the book. The impact of that line just lost its effect the more it was used.
4.World-Building/Character Development: While I really did love the setting of this book, similar to DOTBC, I wished there could have been more expansion on the world itself.
The way it was written never really made it feel explored thoroughly. Things like setting, events, or location descriptions would be given or stated so directly that it felt like the only aspect to the development of the world.
Elements of the various settings to New Reynes also seemed so specific, that it felt very lacking when seeing it overall.
The differing gangs of New Reynes like the Irons, Doves, & Scarhands are given minimal description and because of that, when they are mentioned I forget why it even matters because they don’t feel they end up tying too well into the story anyways (only in certain plot points when its necessary).
Same for the magic system! While I really enjoyed it, there were just basic statements about the talents that just never got too much development. There were so many questions I had, like: “do certain things determine certain powers?” “what are their limits?” “Is there a pattern in the abilities that would be seen as Blood or Split talents?”
I felt the elements to that weren’t really explored at all…
+ There were minor & somewhat main villain/side characters that were never really developed and I never really cared much for them.
Well aside from those elements I wasn’t really a fan of, another aspect I loved as the book progressed, was the group dynamic that forms between Enne, Levi, Jac (one of Levi’s gang members), & Lola (who is from the Doves)! It wasn’t something I was expecting to develop the way it did and I could really see the great dynamic between them nearing the end!!
Ace Of Shades is uniquely plotted story, with a world that’s immersive and different! The story is filled with intrigue, politics, mystery, magic and centers around 2 main characters you’ll really love following! While elements to the development sometimes falter, its great for fans of Six Of Crows!!