Ace of Shades

Ace of Shades

Title: Ace of Shades

Author: Amanda Foody

Series: The Shadow Game, #1

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release Date: April 10th 2018


Four Stars

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 unravelling 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.

– Blurb courtesy of

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“Some say the City of Sin is a game, so before you arrive—ask yourself, dear reader, how much are you prepared to lose?”
– The City of Sin, a Guidebook: Where To Go and Where Not To

New Reynes is a city Enne never expected to find herself visiting, but when her mother fails to return from a trip to the infamous city Enne has no other option but to follow after her. Enne is unprepared for New Reynes, and the only help she can find, the only name Lourdes left her, isn’t at all what Enne expected. Levi Glaisyer is a street lord and a con man who has made some very dangerous enemies, and now those enemies are coming after him searching for their volts.

Before picking up Ace of Shades I hadn’t heard much about the story; but there were a few people who’d read and enjoyed it, and I’d enjoyed Foody’s debut release so I was excited about picking up this book. There’s a lot at stake in this book for both characters, and right away Enne finds herself entangled in Levi’s problems which made for an action-packed read from the very beginning.

“Panic seized her as she examined the skyline—white and jagged as teeth.
All you know are stories, Enne told herself. And not all stories are true.”

Right away Enne realises how out of depth she is, but she won’t leave without Lourdes. Searching the glittering casinos and the darkest corners of the city where the street lords rule Enne and Levi turn up nothing but more questions that need answering, and every day that passes takes them closer to Levi’s deadline. If he doesn’t produce ten thousand volts before the tenth day passes he may find himself an unwilling participant in a deadly game that’s never been won before.

Ace of Shades is told through both Enne’s and Levi’s POV which gave us a better insight to both of their characters and what drives them. While for Enne it’s all about finding her mother and returning home in time to resume her lessons at finishing school, for Levi it’s all about survival. Working with Enne means he may be able to scrap together enough money to pay off the men hunting him. There are no heroes in this book, everyone is out for themselves and everyone has secrets to hide.

…The Characters

“Thanks to Lourdes’s protection, she’d merely lacked the opportunity to truly know herself. She was a pistol wrapped up in silk. She was a blade disguised as a girl.”

Enne changes so much in this book as the city of New Reynes sinks its claws into her, and I thought her development was incredibly done. When she first steps off the boat and into the city she’s naïve and clearly not prepared for New Reynes, but the more time she spends with Levi searching for her mother, and the more time she spends in the employment of Vianca Augustine, the more she realises sometimes you need to be just as vicious as the person you’re facing in order to survive.

Even though she isn’t present in Ace of Shades Lourdes is still a major character, mainly through Enne’s memories of her and the fact that she seems to be leading Levi and Enne around the city, following the path of her life before Enne was born. Lourdes is a very secretive character, she never revealed much to Enne before but it’s only when Enne follows her mother to New Reynes that she realises everything Lourdes was hiding from her.

“Levi had a long romantic history of scattered affairs – a few girls and many boys – that had become the subject of teasing from his friends. They claimed he had a hopeless habit of kissing and telling.”

Levi has survived New Reynes for years, pulled himself up to become the Lord of the Irons, but now it seems the city is turning against him. He got involved in an investment scam which has started to unravel, and Levi needs to steal money from his own people just to stay afloat. Levi has ties to a lot of people, and it’s those ties Enne needs to find her mother but Levi has too many problems of his own. The Shadow Game has come calling, and Levi knows enough to be very scared of it.

One thing Amanda Foody does brilliantly in her books is the diversity, and Ace of Shades is no exception. Levi is a black bi-sexual main character, and even though Lourdes isn’t a major part of the story we learn that she’s gender fluid.

“She allowed herself to admit that Levi Glaisyer was very good-looking—at least, in an up-to-no-good way that she supposed some people found attractive.”

The relationship between Levi and Enne, because of course in a YA fantasy book there has to be a romance for the main characters, developed slowly over the course of the book so it didn’t feel too sudden or too much like insta-love. However I don’t think it was needed. Levi and Enne could have remained friends and it wouldn’t have changed the story or lessened the impact of any key scenes. At heart Levi is a survivor, he looks out for number one simple as that, and he doesn’t have the time to babysit Enne but the more entangled she becomes in New Reynes, thanks in part to the decisions Levi made, the more protective he becomes over her.

…The Setting

“The photograph of Luckluster Casino matched the stories of New Reynes: red lights that flashed without flame, women of loose morals dancing on street corners in sparkling, skin-tight corsets, gambling dens beckoning passersby with seedy smiles and the allure of fast fortune.”

The city of New Reynes has two sides to it; and for me it brought to mind a mixture of Las Vegas and Ketterdam from the Six of Crows duology. It was glitzy, bright and glamorous on the surface but rotten underneath, and you could never tell who could be trusted because everyone was out for themselves first and everyone else last. While the city itself was well written, and we got to explore a lot of it as Enne and Levi travelled all over following Lourdes trail, a lot of the culture and history was lacking. The information we were giving about people’s talents, the Great Street War, the Mizers and their important when it came to the Revolution was all important to the story but it felt pushed in and looking back it was kind of forgettable.

Before reading Ace of Shades I’d heard some people comparing this book to Six of Crows, and I think if you go into this story expecting that you’ll be disappointed. Ace of Shades is a great read, I loved the story and the characters, especially Enne who had brilliant development throughout, but there’s not a lot of similarities between the two. If you go into Ace of Shades prepared to take it on its own as it comes you won’t be let down.

What did you think of Ace of Shades? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

17 thoughts on “Ace of Shades

  1. This sounds very intriguing, even if the romance was somewhat unnecessary. It’s also a pity some of the world building was forgettable. I’ll definitely try and take your advice to not compare it to Six of Crows (cos yeah, I don’t see how it could live upto that!)
    Brilliant review! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like I’m being a bit harsh when it comes to the romance, I know that for a lot of people it would have been a good part of the story. It was well developed and I’ve read worse romances that’s for sure. 🙂
      Nothing can live up to Six of Crows, but if you take this on its own it’s a good read.
      Thanks so much. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. People keep telling me this book is for readers who loved Six Of Crows, so I’m super excited to read this! I’m so happy that more and more diverse books are being published, and advertised now!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely adored Ace Of Shades myself too and can definitely see where you’re coming from and like you, I have to agree that the story was lacking a bit in backstory or it wasn’t given as much time and space as we might have needed! I feel like the gangs also weren’t explored as much as I had thought they would be. From the way everyone talked about the gangs and stuff, I figured we would be getting to know them a lot more. I hope we at least get some more in the upcoming books and I think we might actually, with how the ending was set up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I think for the first book of a new series Ace of Shades was brilliant, and I can’t wait for book two that’s for sure, but there were just a couple of places I felt the development could have been better. I really hope it’s expanded on in book two because yeah the gangs seemed to get pushed to one side so Enne could find her mother. I’m not sure where book two will go but I can’t wait to find out that’s for sure! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s a shame, but I get what you mean because I’ve been let down so many times when people compare a new release to a book I love and it ends up being nothing alike. It’s why I’m glad I was able to go into this one without that expectation.
      Thanks so much, and I hope you end up enjoying this one a little at least. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice review, Beth! I sort of giggled at “because of course in a YA fantasy book there has to be a romance for the main characters” hahahaah One of many reasons why I don’t read YA much at all! But this still sounds like an enjoyable book to pick up. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Lashaan. 🙂 Yeah it seems like more often than not there’s romance in YA books, it makes it a nice change of pace when there isn’t a romantic relationship.
      I’d still recommend this one, the romance takes a backseat to the story so it may be one you end up enjoying despite it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been looking forward to reading something else by Amanda Foody, and I have to admit I was drawn in with the comparison to Six of Crows. Thanks for the heads up that there’s some similarities but not as many as expected. I love the premise to the book and I always love it when the MC is given a brilliant character arc. It’s also encouraging to hear that Foody seems to handle complex, diverse individuals very well. It’s not often that you run across a gender fluid or bisexual person of color in a YA fantasy. So that’s incredibly refreshing to hear as well. A shame that some of the world-building was lacking in some areas, but very happy to hear that the book worked out for the most part. Very excited to get to this one sometime soon. Lovely review as always Beth!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d just been looking forwards to reading something else by Amanda Foody, I hadn’t really seen the comparisons to Six of Crows until I started seeing the reviews but I guess I went in not expecting a similar book which was good in the end. 🙂
      Ace of Shades is a brilliant book, honestly I don’t think I had many complaints about this one, Amanda Foody is incredible when it comes to including diverse characters, and diverse characters who aren’t in a lot of books already you know?
      I suppose you can’t have everything, but I still hope the world building will be expanded on in the second book. Thanks so much Azia. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh that’s wonderful that you enjoyed this one so much, Beth. Really makes me want to move this one up on my TBR! Hope the world-building improves with the second book as well 😀 And of course! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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