Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
Published: April 10th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, YA
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.
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“To be frank, reader, you’re better off not visiting the city at all.”
“Playing nice is the same as losing in this city.”
Enne Salta is a Bellamy girl through and through. She is on her way to becoming a lady in society but her mother Lourdes has not returned from a trip to the city of sin New Reynes. All she has now are the rules her mother instilled in her and a letter telling her to find a young man named Levi who might be able to help Enne in finding her mother. So, she drops her seemingly good life to travel to the city of sin itself and uncover the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. But nothing is as it seems and as she uncovers more and more she learns just how much Lourdes was hiding and how dark this sinful city truly is. In a world where gangs run amuck, mafia families call the shots, and twisted games take place Enne and Levi race against time before their life is completely claimed by the Shadow Game. Wow, this story was something special especially plot-wise. It had a lot of cool elements like the deadly shadow game, the unique magic system, the money system, and the history of New Reynes. Speaking of history Amanda Foody did something I loved early on: she explained the history in chapter one so we didn’t have to sit through any boring history lesson. From that point on the story kept a great pace and was action-packed. My favorite aspect was how the genre of the story reads as a dystopian fantasy. You have this sort of class system/monarch but then you also have magic/kingdoms/gangs. Furthermore, the world-building gives you this whimsical world but at the same time with this dystopianesque style and feel.
“Everything was sharp, a place designed to cut. To draw blood. It was the kind of dark where shadows didn’t exist.”
The city of sin itself is very sinister feeling. Something always feels and appears to be lurking in the shadows and you don’t know who you can trust. This is a place you have to blend in and understand that this place will corrupt you an bring out the darkest parts of yourself. The writing matched the feeling of the city because I felt the gritty and gruesome life people lived. The magic system was so cool. Everyone is born with talents they can be split or “pure”. Your last name(s) determine that. If your last name is Salta (one of) your talent is dancing. Some families’ talents are better/stronger, and talents aren’t only talents of aptitude like dancing or acrobatics but they are also talents of mysteries (magic,) like fire or protection, etc. The story takes place in New Reynes as I stated and it’s split in two. The Northside (where the story mostly takes place) is basically like Gotham with different gangs and crime/mafia-like families. It is divided into three gangs: the Irons (liars and cheats), the Scarhands (smugglers), and the Doves (scariest of all/the assassins). They all have something on them that identifies them. Irons have a tattoo, Scars have scars on their hands, and Doves have white hair. The two casino/mafia families are the Augustines, whose boss is Vianca, and the Torrens, whose boss is Sedric.
“Levi had a look like he was trying to sell you something, and a smile that made you want to buy it.”
Our Leading lady Enne Salta was a difficult one for me. I had to complete the book to really give my rounded out opinion on her. Some might love her from the jump but I could not stand her. She was snobbish, acted like she knew everything, practically acts fearless in the face of so many dangers, and she was insufferable. But as her layers were peeled back and as the story progressed I was shocked. The one issue I did have was I would have liked the author to make her character more believable as some scared naive girl. She was doing things that even people who lived in New Reynes wouldn’t do. Of course, as we learn some truths about her it makes perfect sense but before she and we learn that it seems more unrealistic. But other than that she was a bad ass like some of the great heroines. She did what had to be done and trust me this girl is more dangerous than she seems.
My favorite character as Mr. Levi Glaisyer is the other point of view. I loved him and his whole character arc. Levi is the Lord of the Irons. He is a con man, calculating, and can sense auras & one of his talents is fire. He is black and bi-sexual and this is wonderfully shown on the page. He is someone who genuinely cares for his Irons and wants to do right by them. I loved his inner monologue more than Enne’s and how in touch he is with his feelings. He agrees to help Enne for his own ambitions but quickly continues to help and feel a sense of responsibility for her. He takes a lot on his shoulders and keeps his poker face on at all times but we learn how broken and trapped he really feels. He is one of my favorite male characters.
The side characters and villains are just as rich as the main ones. Jac Mardlin is Levi’s second and he is so funny and super supportive and always has Levi’s back. Lola is a spitfire and the friendship that develops between her and Enne is really nice. The three main villains are sinister and all interconnect. It may seem like one is worse than the other but they are all truly horrible people in the best way (meaning they were written amazingly.) If you met any of these people in real life I imagine anyone would truly people terrified.
“Better be careful, missy. Souls can go black in this city.”
“New Reynes was so intertwined with Levi’s character that flirting with him would be like flirting with the City of Sin itself.”
This was very interesting. We had two people who used each other for selfish ambitions and reasons and come to truly care for one another. But, we don’t get actually any romance. It is so intriguing because there is a lot of pining in their point-of-views and they grow to want one another. But, there is a lot of danger in this relationship. It will make for an interesting development. This will be truly slow burn.
“But Levi refused to fall with this scheme. He had a destiny to forge and an empire to build.”
“If St. Morse were a palace, then the Tropps Room was the throne room, and greed was king.”
“The South Side may seem safer, reader, but remeber—some monsters wait until your guard is down to bare their teeth.”
“Avarice, pride, lust—these are all modest desires. What the City of Sin truly craves is destruction.”
“In the City of Sin, secrets are their own sort of currency, and reputation holds more power than fortune.”
“Legends of the North Side are born in the gutters and die on the gallows.”
“She was a pistol wrapped up in silk. She was a blade disguised as a girl.”
“I still think you’re dangerous. Maybe more dangerous than I first believed. I thought the city would claim you—break you…Now I think the city could be yours to claim.”
“Some say the City of Sin is a game, so before you arrive—ask yourself, dear reader, how much are you prepared to lose?”
“The City of Sin was a game, but not everyone was a player.”
“The game wasn’t about empires and legends and legacies. It was about power, and it was about death.”
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