- my rating: 4 stars
- published by: Harlequin Teen
- genres: fantasy, lgbt+
- diversity: bisexual black mc
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.
I’ve been so excited for the release of this book ever since I heard about it. Ace of Shades sounded right up my alley – it’s fantasy, multi-perspective, follows morally grey protagonists, has diverse characters (including a bisexual main character) and is all about crime and gangs, plus I really enjoyed Amanda Foody’s previous release Daughter of the Burning City. I am trash for all these elements and in ONE book? I was expecting big things
This book did not let me down. It was everything I was expecting. Action packed fantasy, twisty stories, interesting world building, mind-bending plot twists and plenty of crime, gangs, card tricks and other shenanigans to keep me entertained.
The world was the initial thing that got me to keep reading this book. Amanda Foody impressed me with her vivid and interesting world building in her debut and she’s done it again in Ace of Shades. The City of Sin is brought to life through beautiful description and you can picture the grimy streets and lanes so clearly. Foody really has a talent for creating atmosphere and setting tone and that shone right through in her world building. Also, it was explained in a way that was clear but not obviously info-dumpy which I appreciated.
I really loved the characters in Ace of Shades. In Daughter of the Burning City, one of my only complaints was that I didn’t feel attached to the main character at all. Ace of Shades showed to me Amanda Foody knows what she’s doing when it comes to characters. She constructed really great, complex characters and gave them excellent character arcs, and I genuinely enjoyed both Levi and Enne’s point of views equally.
Enne and Levi are the main characters of this book. We are introduced to Enna first. Enne is a city girl on her first trip to the City of Sin, a place infamous for it’s vice and .. sin. On a quest to find her missing mother, she teams up with Levi, a notorious card dealer and gang member who’s found himself indebted to crime lords and thus, in a lot of big trouble himself.
As I mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed reading from both these characters perspectives. Enne started off as my least favourite, but I LOVED her character development. It was subtle, but well plotted, and her character grew on me so much. No matter how many times they’re done, I love the “girl goes from being naive to deadly” trope and Amanda Foody did it so well here.
Levi is absolutely hilarious, which immediately drew me to him. He’s a member of a gang and notorious card-dealer who can win any game and con any man. He’s also black and bisexual. My one problem with Levi is that, at times, I felt like there was too much telling and not enough showing in terms of his reputation. Despite that however, I really fell in love with him.
In terms of the bisexual rep, it should be mentioned Levi is the “promiscuous bisexual” trope . If you hate that, then you do you. But personally, I love this trope when it’s done right. And it was done right. Levi is flirty and confident and it fits well with his overall personality, and I loved how his attraction to multiple genders was explored in this book.
This book ended in a big place, with plenty of things still left to uncover and unravel and I feel like it’s just going to get better. Amanda Foody has already hinted at what’s to come and I am so so excited.
One thing I really loved is how all the tension built up but rhe author didn’t play all her cards yet. I hate when it feels like everything wrapped up in book one and book two will have an entirely new issue. Foody left plot points, mysteries and character relationships hanging, which is actually my favourite. Because it means big things for the next books.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book. It had excellent characters, worlbuilding, plots and tension. Amanda Foody is an author I can see just getting better and better as she keeps publishing books and I think her next book will blow me away as much as this one.
until next time!