Title: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
Genre: Young Adult 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.
Amanda Foody’s Ace of Shades is the first book I have read by this author and based on review searches I have found it has been compared largely to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo in pretty much every single one. If you go into this book expecting Six of Crows then you aren’t going to be happy because whilst the City of Sin and the gangs do slightly shadow Six of Crows vibes, this book is its own work of art.
The plot of Ace of Shades really intrigued me especially the concept of Blood Talents, each person has a blood talent based on their parents, there is a whole array of talents you could have from dancing to being able to make orbs in which volts (the currency of Ace of Shades) can be stored and other talents can be much darker. This added a real mysterious element to the book and every character because you never know what someone’s talent might be therefore is what the character is seeing and hearing the truth?
Another mysterious element present throughout, is the story of Lourdes; who she really was, why she is missing and where she is. This is the whole reason Enne enters the City of Sin and as the story begins to unravel so does Enne’s own life as she has always known it.
In terms of pace, this book followed a steady pace throughout. I never felt bogged down with information or confused which is something that is easy to feel in a fantasy book.
Ace of Shades alternates point of view between Enne and Levi, both of which we see strong character development. When we first meet Enne she seems like a damsel in distress, someone who the City of Sin would swallow hole. As the story develops we learn Enne has more going for her than we originally thought, she really blossoms into a strong character.
Levi is our black and bisexual male protagonist, although sexuality isn’t something that is labelled in this world. He simply just is sexually drawn to both men and women. There is a connection between Enne and Levi, a very slow burning romance but it isn’t the forefront of the book at all and although you can feel the tension between the pair and the emotional build up, it’s not really acted upon. The plot is always the forefront of this book which is amazing.
The only thing which did niggle me a little bit regarding characters is the development of others. As the point of view was between Enne and Levi, the book focused on these two but it did try to develop Jac and Lola’s story to a greater level. In my opinion I think there just needed to be a bit more time spent on that because they both have such interesting backgrounds and stories and they become important roles in the plot.
Ace of Shades was a 4 star book for me. I really enjoyed my whole reading experience and I need the second book in my life immediately please. The only thing which let it down slightly for me was the lack of development of Jac and Lola but I think this might be developed to a greater degree in book 2. The world building, the pace, and plot itself were all marvelous and my favourite aspect was most definitely the concept of blood talents.
Have you read Ace of Shades? Let me know your favourite character below!