Title: Ace of Shades
Author: Amanda Foody
Series: The Shadow Game, #1
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: April 10th 2018
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 goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.