Friday, April 6, 2018

Book Review: Ace of Shades

Title: Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)
Author: Amanda Foody
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Source: Publisher
Format: eARC

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 (goodreads).

I can't stop thinking about Ace of Shades
Plot: Ace of Shades sucks you in from the first page and doesn't let you go! Ace of Shades was intoxicating and I was beside both Enne and Levi hoping that they would find the answers that they so desperately wanted. The pacing was just right which I believe was due in part to the alternating perspectives of Levi and Enne. Ace of Shades only took place over the span of ten days but reader, believe me when I tell you that you'll experience a lot of emotions and have your favorites almost immediately 

Now this book is also getting a lot of comparisons to Six of Crows which makes a lot of sense; both books dealt with criminals trying to carve out a living in a dark city, and both dealt with a complex magic system. I really enjoyed how the magic in Ace of Shades was explored and I hope that we get to see more of the talents that all of the characters possess. While I understand the comparisons, I hope that readers are able to appreciate Ace of Shades for its originality and maturity. 

Characters: Enne was my absolute favorite and I loved experiencing New Reynes through her prudish lens. Enne walked into New Reynes as a prim miss who blushed at everything; I enjoyed seeing her transformation as she made a name for herself within New Reynes. Our other main character, Levi, was nothing short of swoons. The bisexual leading man was a young street lord who was struggling to keep his reputation and find freedom in a world where everyone was indebted to someone else. The sexual tension between Levi and Enne was sweltering and I fangirled so hard. SO HARD. 

There are two aspects of Foody's characters that I absolutely respect. I love that, like in Daughter of the Burning City, Foody included a cast of sexually diverse characters. As mentioned earlier, Levi was bisexual and he wasn't afraid to show his appreciation for the men and women he encountered. I also loved how Foody made Enne very feminine. I was lucky enough to hear Foody talk at ALA 2017 and she made a comment about wanting a female lead that doesn't have to demonstrate the typical manly strength, instead, Enne enjoys wearing frilly dresses and a nice shade of lipstick. I was also surprised by how Foody allowed for sexual exploration and thought that it was done well.

Worldbuilding: What I liked about New Reynes is that we got to see it through the gazes of both Enne and Levi. Levi saw the world as a cage, a place he could never be free, while Enne saw it as a place where she could finally shine. I loved how easy the magic system and the crime families were to understand and how the street gangs interacted.

One aspect that confused me a bit was the world itself. I'm used to my fantasy novels being extremely fantasy, meaning no technology and weird names. New Reynes (and the other lands) were fairly modern, they had exquisite penthouses and indoor plumbing. Sometimes it reminded me of a 1920s noir film. 

Short N Sweet: Ace of Shades is nothing short of amazing that I want everyone to read! 


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