Review: Ace of Shades
Title: Ace of Shades
Series: The Shadow Game #1
Author: Amanda Foody
Date Published: April 10th 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
This story starts with Enne arriving in the City of Sin in search for her missing mother with nothing but a name to go on. She must navigate a city full of greed and danger, to not only search for her missing mother but uncover her true history and unravel a lifetime of lies.
It’s tempting to compare this book to Six of Crows however, I think that would be unfair to this book. Six of crows was excellence and whilst this isn’t on the same playing field it is still an enjoyable book.
In this world, each character has talents based on their bloodline, - a blood talent and a split talent based. It was a fun concept and made for some interesting talents. I liked how this made everyone’s surname well known so you knew what their talent was. There were clear expectations and disappointments based on one’s blood talent which was an interesting way to establish a social hierarchy. Rather than the focus being of wealth the judgement and privilege was based on how good your talent was and whether you came from an impressive bloodline.
One of the main aspects of the story involved the gangs of sin city. I do love gang rivalry, so I was excited to learn about the different territories and gangs and their areas of expertise and I liked having the crime families as well, this really added to the story and made the city truly feel like the city of sin.
Our two main characters were Enne and Levi, and we get a duel POV throughout the book, so we get to see the story as seen by both of them. I enjoyed the duel POV as it allowed us to see the city from the view of someone who lives there and belongs and someone who is new and seeing it all for the first time. Enne was an interesting character, though I didn’t live her at the beginning as she was so naïve and so clearly out of her depth in the city. I understand her reactions but found them a little annoying to start with. However, her character development was great and but the end I was loving her attitude and actions and can’t wait to see what happens with her next.
Now, I understand that this is a young adult book, but I was still surprised by how young Levi was, and how young he was when he started/ became a lord. Surely, he would’ve easily been stopped by the other lords when he was building up his gang, especially since he’s not a fighter. It didn’t really make sense to me that the other gangs just didn’t care he built his own. Maybe they just thought he wasn’t a threat but seeing the rivalry’s going on I’m surprised Levi at such a young age was able to carve out a piece of territory. I also was expecting Levi to be more of an experienced character? His knowledge of the city of sin was great but he constantly had an internal battle about how he was letting his gang down and how much he was struggling. I understand why but I was expecting him to be more confident or self-assured, he is after all a gang lord, one of only a few so I had expected him to be more on their level. I hate to compare but though the characters in six of crows were young they were clearly very smart and working on the same level as the other players – you forgot how young they were, and it made sense for them to be as accomplished as they were. This was not the case in Ace of Shades. I liked Levi as a character, but it made little sense that he was a gang lord.
There was lots of great side characters, Lola was a particular favourite of mine! I loved how blunt and wary she was at first but also loved seeing her soften over time. Reymond was another favourite of mine, he was funny but also his kindness to Levi made him feel very well rounded rather than just being a typical awful gang Lord. I wish we had gotten more of him.
My only other annoyance was that every swear word was replaced with ‘muck’. Again, I understand it’s a young adult book, it just felt so wrong and out of place. If you don’t want to swear, that’s fine but find something more fitting to replace it rather than continually using muck! But whilst this was very annoying it didn’t impact the story or the characters.
The overall storyline was intriguing though it took a little while to get to the really juicy stuff! I loved watching the characters develop and interact and the ending was excellent, it answered a lot of my questions and gave me a lot of what I had hoped to get from the ending. I’m looking forward to the next book.
Rating: 3.5 Stars