I wrote this review in December of 2018 thinking it would be my first blog post when I began writing for Bee the Booknerd in January. As I sat down to begin working on my Lord of Shadows discussion, I realized I still wanted to share my thoughts on this less talked about fantasy novel.
Normally, I would go through and edit some of this post, but after reading it over, I’m happy with how I wrote it. Enjoy!
I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. I haven’t taken the time to sit down and share my thoughts about my current reads… I’ve felt tired, uninspired, and honestly, I’ve been a bit more anxious than usual. Case in point – I didn’t read a lot in November. It took me until December 5th to finish 3 books I’d started and just as long for me to snap out of this rut. I’ve been trying to manage a lot and it hasn’t been easy.
What snapped me out of my rut? Easy. Ace of Shades (Book 1 of The Shadow Game) by Amanda Foody.
Ace of Shades has been sitting on my shelf since April 2018. It came in my first ever OwlCrate box and I’ve been putting it off. I’m not entirely sure why I’ve avoided reading this book so heavily, but it’s just been sitting there… gathering dust. I couldn’t even tell you what prompted me to pick it up. What I can tell you is I’m glad I did!
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.
A dash of tropey
Yeah, I said it. This book IS tropey… mainly in the “instalove” department (though it is accusatory of me to use “instalove” because perhaps “insta-attraction” or “instalike” is the better choice of words). I came to the table expecting this to fall into the “tropey” category of YA Fantasy and it didn’t disappoint. I’m not saying I hate the (seemingly) ever present tropes of YA Fantasy because I actually find them enjoyable mostly (if well executed). In Foody’s case, it was well executed, yet predictable.
Bisexual, non-white, male protagonist
Here’s another thing I enjoyed. Levi Glaisyer was not a straight, white male. I truly appreciated that we got a bisexual, non-white male protagonist in this story. Most of the YA Fantasy I read involves straight, white male leads so Foody’s choice was like the breath of fresh air I needed in my reading life. Breaking free from the straight, white male trope was a good call. Even better? Levi’s “I don’t give a shit” attitude about his sex-capades.
Evolution of the female protagonist
Enne really evolves throughout her 10 days in New Reynes. She literally emerges as one of the most badass characters in this novel and it wasn’t entirely expected. Upon her arrival in New Reynes she is timid.. I’d maybe even describe her as meek. Her transformation seems to begin after her encounter with Vianca (the Augustine Family donna), but I’d argue that her evolution really starts when she runs away from the whiteboots shortly after her arrival in New Reynes. At the start, Enne is the epitome of ladylike, but by the end, New Reynes has made her a Sinner.
Small details worth mentioning
- Supporting characters are as lovable as the mains
- Fast paced (I read this one in 3 days)
- It’s full of (mildly predictable) twists
- Hilariously annoying curse words (mucking/shatz)
- Interesting magic/talent system (honestly, this was what really impressed me!)
- Excellent character development and world building
For a book that’s pretty tropey, I’m really glad I finally took the time to read Ace of Shades. I believe this book is unique in it’s magic and world building. I loved the two name talent system that Foody developed. While certain elements of the history of New Reynes could be foggy for me (I chalk this up to reading it so quickly), Foody really and truly developed a unique world that I can’t wait to revisit when King of Fools (I’ve already pre-ordered my copy!) is released in March of 2019.
Five star reads are rare for me (unless it’s Cassie Clare), but 2018 was full of them. I highly recommend Ace of Shades. I’m still coming off my high from finishing it (lololol).
Have you read anything from Amanda Foody? Share some thoughts on her work below!