by Amanda Foody
Series: The Shadow Game #1
Published on April 10, 2018 by Harlequin TEEN
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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, her only lead is a 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.
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Well. Ace of Shades. I’ve officially decided to visit New Reynes, the City of Sin!
I was a bit skeptical about this book. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for fantasy worlds with an almost 1920’s feel and unusual magic is a definite bonus, but there’s a lot that could go wrong too. But then I met Enne Salta.
Naive and sheltered, it was almost cringe-worthy watching her attempt to navigate the infamous den of sinners, a city ruled by three gangs and two families akin to the world’s mafia. Yet she did it and grew into who she really was, which wasn’t the proper lady she claimed at the beginning. I’ll admit that I didn’t think she was going to make it as a character. Not in the survival sense, but character development. It seemed a recipe for instant superheroine who finally took off her glasses. Thankfully she did grow as a character, much in the way I expected but better than no growth at all. I liked her. . . by the end. She took some warming up to, though.
Now I hate to say it but the rest of the cast was, well, lackluster. And I hate saying it because there was potential. We have gangs of talented individuals with various talents such as blood gazing and orb-making, yet that magic wasn’t explained well enough for me to grasp it and they didn’t use it enough to make them interesting.
Levi Glaisyer is the other PoV character in Ace of Shades and he felt like a watered down Kaz Brekker. I’ve seen the comparisons between Six of Crows and this book, and I’ll just say they’re on two different levels. Levi wasn’t a bad character but I was constantly reminded how young he was which contradicted his gang lord persona. BUT I will say that Levi is identified as bisexual in the story and is also a person of color for those looking for the rep, and it was nice seeing that rep included (especially in a protagonist!).
Okay, so what did I like? Well. Enne was great at the end but I’ve already covered her. The world-building wasn’t executed all that well (lots of gaps, lots of confusion for me as the reader), but I’m really intrigued by the different talents. Each person has two, one as more of a primary and another secondary. I didn’t quite understand how those worked but I’m interested enough that I’ll definitely check out the sequel to see if they’re explained further.
I also liked the general setting of New Reynes. A “City of Sin” isn’t exactly original but I liked that it wasn’t the typical fantasy world, reminded me more of Iron Cast by Destiny Soria.
And the writing, while nothing memorable, engaged me. I read Ace of Shades almost entirely in one sitting and could easily pick up another of Foody’s books right now (like Daughter of the Burning City. . . which I will read at some point!).
So ultimately this was a good book. A few things weren’t working for me but they weren’t enough to deter me from an enjoyable reading experience which is what matters in the end!
Enter the City of Sin. . . with a Giveaway!
5 winners will receive a copy of Ace of Shades
US/Canada only, ends April 19th