Title: Ace of Shades
Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date published: April 10th 2018
Page Count: 411
Source: Personal purchase
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.
The entire premise was actually quite interesting. Aside from the parent-gone-missing-and-protagonist-goes-looking-for-them trope, the story is quite fresh and unique from what I’m used to reading. Amanda Foddy does an amazing job in creating a landscape of New Reynes and delving into its history as well as creating a diverse array of characters. While I enjoyed exploring the setting, it was the fast-paced and action-packed plot made this book amazing.
The story follows Enne as she treks through the City of Reynes to find her mother. As an aspiring ballerina that has spent most of her life in a finishing school in Bellamy, Enne finds herself immediately out of place in the City of Sins. Enne eventually meets heads with Levi Glaisyer, the only lead she has to her search for her mother.
The story spans a short 10 days as they trickle around the city, looking for clues. From traversing casinos to meeting the city’s notorious gang lords and dons and donnas of crime families, Enne finds herself buried in more secrets and loose ends. And Levi has problems of his own. Tirelessly trying to wrap up his investment scam, Levi runs into problems with his very last investor, who’s given him an ultimatum: Ten thousand volts by the end of the ten days, or an invitation to the Shadow Games.
The story is divided into the ten days, and is told through both Enne and Levi’s perspectives, one looking for Lourdes, and the other trying to make ends meet.
Overall, I had a great read.
However, I did feel like the beginning of the story could have been fleshed out better. Levi and Enne started off very superficial in terms of the way they spoke to one another or acted. The characters initially lacked the depth that you hoped to see in protagonists. But this eventually got resolved as Foody took the opportunities throughout the book to shape them and reveal their characters.
I was also a bit picky with the writing (I blame English class), as some things ticked me off. For example, the characters often made overexaggerated actions or their dialogue felt forced. Also, I understand that different places have different dialects, but why did they have to swear using words like Muck and Shatz?
Although I felt like Foody could have done better with laying out the setting, the rest of the novel is quite nicely formulated. As the story progressed, the writing and plot became more and more engrossing. But I was still bothered by the superficialness of the writing and characters at the beginning of the story, which is what stopped me from giving it a full 5/5 stars.
Nevertheless, the ending came out amazing. By the end, not only did you feel immersed in New Reynes, but you were able to visualize the characters. Enne turned into such a badass towards the end of the book. It honestly made me smile so much seeing her evolve from prudent and meek into a cunning and bold character. It made me forget how mucking annoying she was at the beginning. She definitely grew on me 🙂
I also really enjoyed the diversity in the characters. It seemed to fit so well into the story and I couldn’t help but nod in approval of Foody’s work.
I haven’t read fantasy in a while, I was really impressed with how Amanda Foody built the world of Ace of Shades. Each character had a blood talent (main skill) and split talent (secondary skill), which was how their names were determined. For Enne, whose full name is Enne Abacus Salta, her talents were arithmetic and dancing. And their form of currency was Volts, which is live electricity (which I thought was a really interesting concept). And then there’s a whole history that gets explored throughout the story. I won’t get too much into it, you’ll just have to read the book.
All in all, I really enjoyed reading the story. There was a nice balance of description and plot and dialogue and I felt like by the end of the story, each character had their own distinct flair and voice.
King of Fools (#2 of the Shadow Games) if coming out this April! Did you guys already read the Ace of Shades? What were your thoughts?