Title: Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)
Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date: 10th April 2018
I am so grateful that I got the chance to read Ace of Shades, and a big thank you to HQ Young Adult for approving me on NetGalley. I was sent the UK edition to review (this cover is the US one) and although I missed reading it before the release date (17th May) it didn’t stop me from really enjoying this book. I flew through this in less than 48 hours, that’s how great this story is.
Enne Salta is poised and proper, having been brought up the right way by her mother to become a lady. The last place she would ever be seen is New Reynes, the City of Sin, but that’s exactly where she needs to go. When she realises that her mother has gone missing, Enne travels to the last place that she visited, unsure of what she will find. There she asks for help from Levi Glaisyer, street lord to one of the three gangs of New Reynes, the Irons. Levi has his own motivations for wanting to help, mainly taking compensation from Enne to dig himself out of some trouble with the mafia. Mysteries begin to unravel as they visit the casinos, cabarets and alleys searching for clues, until they are led to the clutches of the mafia donna. It’s a race against time for both of them and they’ll both need to play their cards right if they’re to get out alive.
When it comes to the writing, I thought it was very well written with a great pace that kept me hooked. I loved the mystery that surrounded the characters, especially Enne, and how we were drip fed bits of information here and there, which kept me hooked and invested in the story. I am a big fan of multiple POVs in books and I really enjoyed how the perspectives switched between Enne and Levi so we got to see more aspects of the world that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
The world of New Reynes felt so real thanks to the descriptive writing and I definitely got Las Vegas vibes from it. The casinos and cabarets were described perfectly and I felt as though I was there with the characters, thanks to the colour and imagery. There’s a bit of info-dump in the beginning, but eventually I managed to wrap my head around the way the world works. There are three gangs that rule the streets, the Doves, the Irons and the Scarhands, and then we have the two major crime families; the Augustines and the Torrens. Each gang specialises in something unique that makes them all as deadly as each other.
The fantasy aspect of this book was so interesting. Everybody has an ability of some kind. Some only have one, but most of two with one being secondary to the other. Your surname predicts what your ability is, such as Salta, which means that you have a dancing ability. This features quite a bit in the story and makes up some of the mystery that surrounds the characters as not all is as it seems. There are also talents that are more magical, such as having an affinity for fire or being able to read minds, etc. It’s a very intriguing system that may seem complicated at first, but I can’t wait to see how it develops in the second book.
At first I wasn’t sure about Enne, but when the story got going I found myself being able to connect more with her. She definitely had great character development, especially towards the end, and it was interesting to see how she reacted to everything that was going on around her. Then we have Levi, the gang leader who isn’t anything like I thought he would be, and that’s a good thing! He was incredibly protective of those he cared about and only wanted the best for them, even if he couldn’t give it to them. In the story Levi has gotten himself into some trouble with the Torrens that he is desperate to get out of and we see that desperation grow throughout the story, bringing him down. Another fact about Levi is that he is also bisexual, which is great to see that representation in novels for people like him, and I feel it made him more interesting as a character.
I loved all the mystery that surrounded Enne’s mother, Lourdes, and the way her story unfolded. Even though she wasn’t present in the story, I still had a great idea of who and what she was through the eyes of the other characters. As with every good fantasy story, we have some great villains who are devious and wicked. The head of the Augustine family was particularly nasty with a spiteful nature that rang true. I can’t wait to find out more about these characters, especially a certain one that was introduced right at the very end.
No book is ever perfect and Ace of Shades doesn’t pretend to be. There are some things I would have liked to know more about, but I am hoping they can crop up during the sequel. Overall, I thought that this book was a fun and interesting read, with characters that intrigued me enough that I want to know more. I am going to give this a solid four stars.