Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1), by Amanda Foody
Publish Date: April 10, 2018
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 out of 5 stars)
**I received an egalley of this from the publisher through Edelweiss and NetGalley in return for an honest review.**
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, 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 knew as soon as I read the description of this book that it was going to be a must-read for me. And I knew as soon as I started it that I was going to love it. The atmosphere, the fantasy setting that mixes a 1920’s vibe with a very unique magic system, and of course the characters all pulled me into this enticing world and kept my attention throughout.
I really enjoyed Foody’s world-building and writing style altogether. She has a wonderful voice that pulls the reader in and makes the story flow well. I absolutely loved the magic system she created (and for some reason I absolutely love the idea of using “volts” for currency), and how she blended it with elements that feel like they could come from New York in the 1920s, with gangs and casinos and other decidedly untasteful things. I also really enjoyed how slow-burn the romance was, because even though this book takes place over ten days, the attraction Levi and Enne felt for each other grew perfectly and at a pace that felt absolutely natural. And, on a side note, the LGBTQ representation was excellent and perfectly incorporated into the world and characters.
There were, unfortunately, a couple of times when I felt a little lost, when random ideas or names were dropped but not really explained, and then completely forgotten about. The Orphan Guild in particular perplexes me – I don’t know if it was mentioned so briefly I forgot, or just not elaborated upon at all, but for the life of me I have no idea what they do or why Levi and other dislike them. Foody also has this habit of leaving some chapters with cliffhangers, and then once coming back to that character, making it seem as if the last thing that occurred to them was not as awful as it seemed. Otherwise, though, it was easy to follow and very compelling throughout.
As for the characters, I knew from the start that I was going to love Levi, and he did not disappoint. He comes off as trying to be this hard, tough street lord but is such a total softy inside that he totally fails at that. He does a good job at keeping up appearances, but his inner voice had me absolutely falling in love with him, and immensely enjoying watching him fall in love with Enne. Enne, however, while growing into a character that I came to enjoy a lot, started off so naïve and annoying that for a while I could not stand her. For a girl who is going to a place that is literally called “the City of Sin” she was so irritatingly naïve and assuming during her first few days there that I had to question her level of intelligence. I mean, she accepted a job with the head of a known crime family at her casino without really questioning just what sort of work she would actually be doing. However, once past this first day, and as she began to learn more about her history and her mother’s secrets, she definitely grew into a character that I began to enjoy more, and whose growth and change were extremely interesting to read.
Despite a few issues here and there, this book was a wonderful read. I loved the world-building, the characters grew easily on me, and the whole plot was full of so much intrigue that it was quite simple to be swept away in it. This book is definitely perfect for fans of Six of Crows, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and The Diviners.