*I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Title: Ace of Shades
Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
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.
This book was so dark and inviting and it’s hard not to get sucked in immediately. Once I entered the City of Sin, I never wanted to leave. Amanda Foody transports you to a world where the stakes are high and one wrong gamble could mean your life. There was so much to love about this book including the amazing cast of characters, worldbuilding, plot, and twists. The reading experience was so three-dimensional and I felt like I could have been literally transported into the book. The worldbuilding is just that good and Amanda Foody has created such a vivid and realistic setting with New Reynes.
New Reynes is more commonly known as the City of Sin. It’s run by the two crime families, who own the casinos and the gangs, who run the streets. There are three gangs: the Irons, the Doves, and the Scarhands. They are constantly at war with each other and are always fighting to be on top.
The main plot follows Enne Salta, a young girl raised to be a lady who doesn’t belong anywhere near the City of Sin. But she goes there anyway to find her missing mother, who is not the person Enne thought she was. She uncovers secrets about herself and her family along the way, secrets that could get her killed. Let me just say how obsessed I am with Enne! Her growth throughout the entirety of the book was incredible. She starts off as this fragile little girl who could be killed at any moment to this headstrong and fearless girl who shoots first and asks questions later. She’s just so bold and isn’t afraid to take action and get things done.
All Enne has to go on is her guidebook and the name of a stranger to lead the way. Levi Glaisyer is the Iron Lord, a title which once meant something before he got caught up in a scheme that is could cause his kingdom to crumble. He only helps Enne because he owes her mother a favour and she’s offering a huge payload that could solve all his troubles. Along the way, he gets her a job at the casino where he works, unknowingly trapping her in the city and the clutches of the leader of one of the two crime families.
Everyone has a blood talent according to their last name, which was a super cool magical element I did not expect! It makes each character so unique and definitely adds depth character-wise. There were some solid secondary characters that really helped shape the story and connected to the protagonists so well. Usually there is more focus on the protagonists, but there was backstory added for other characters.
This book deals with a lot of important representation from the gender fluid Lourdes to the bisexual Levi, but it’s not explicit and it’s just kind of there. I love how there was no sidestepping sexuality and how it doesn’t have to be explained. The characters aren’t defined by sexuality, it’s just part of who they are and what makes them unique. That’s kind of what I loved about this book so much. It’s just so inclusive of everything without being in your face about it.
There were a lot of themes going on throughout the story and I loved how much depth it had. I’m calling one of those themes ‘street politics’ because everything was so crooked and the city is run by crime and gangs. Definitely also a lot of violence, secrets, deception, and even room for a potential romantic subplot. Ace of Shades had so much suspense with mystery woven in and all those dark and twisty elements I love. It reminded me so much of Six of Crows, with the colourful cast of questionable characters on a mission, racing against time.
Amanda Foody has created such a unique story with so much personality. I can’t wait to see where this trilogy goes! The ending was so cruel and taunting and I seriously need some more now. Ace of Shades was definitely an intoxicating read and I’m counting the days until the sequel. Consider me obsessed!