Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: HQ Young Adult Australia
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
Last year we read the debut by Amanda Foody and I loved it, I was a little sad to discover it was a stand-alone. I have been excited about Ace of Shades ever since discovering it’s impending release and it certainly did not disappoint, and it’s book one in a trilogy so YAY! But Boo because book 2 isn’t due until 2019.
Ace of Shades is set in New Reynes, the City of Sin; a den of depravity like no other. Casino families hold lots of power and the streets are run by gangs. There are secrets in every shadow and it is said that the city will corrupt you, no-one leaves unchanged.
I really enjoyed this story, the pacing was pretty steady and there was always something going on. The characters were intriguing and well drawn, I was able to get a handle on them and grew quite attached. I found New Reynes to be very Las Vegas, with a magical bent; this distracted me a little in the beginning but before long I was totally entranced by the characters and the messes they kept getting themselves in and it didn’t register as much.
Enne Salta is a proper young lady, raised in Bellamy and attending a finishing school, she’s looking forward to finishing and making her debut into society. Except that her mother goes missing and Enne sets out to find her, the trail leading her deep into the City of Sin with her only lead being a name, Levi Glaisyer.
Bellamy raised, Enne has no idea what to expect from New Reynes and she arrives with a suitcase and a guidebook telling her where she should and shouldn’t venture, and what to expect. She finds her first spot of trouble within minutes of leaving the boat and that ends in her being chased by those in authority and losing her suitcase.
It isn’t long before Enne discovers there is a lot more to her mother than she ever could have imagined and the secrets she uncovers are definitely hazardous to her health.
Levi isn’t a gentleman, he’s Lord of one of the gangs and up to his eyeballs in trouble of his own. He offers to help Enne track down her mother only because she offers a chance for him to claw his way out of trouble. The two make a formidable team but find with every turn they are each finding more trouble.
There is a lot of chemistry and angst between our leads, the desire is palpable, but they are both more focused on what they need to do. Enne spends most of the book determined that she will find her mother and return to Bellamy so falling for a street lord is a very disastrous move. Levi and Enne avoid the kiss that could seal their fate and quell their desire, but by the end of the book, I just wanted them to find that happy place together – if only for a while. I live in hope that book two will see them get at least a little bit of romance.
The supporting characters were interesting and diverse. Enne arrives with no friends, no anything really. She knows no-one. Levi becomes a hesitant helper, which also brings his second in command into the equation; then there’s Lola. Enne and Lola are an interesting combination right from the start and I like the way that unfolded.
Foody’s world-building is focused on New Reynes, we don’t really know much about anywhere else but New Reynes is intricately described, in the places we go, but the rest of the city is a bit sketchy.
The inhabitants of said city, on the other hand, are quite interesting. They carry the complete names of their parentage and those names come with them a gift, or a talent. Some of the talents are decidedly magical, others physical, mental – all sorts really. You carry a gift from each of your parents, one dominant and one more recessive. The thing with that is that as soon as someone knows your name, they know your talent. Some people use both of their talent names, others only one and some don’t use either because this is one case where your name really is quite telling. It certainly argues for pseudonyms if you want any hint of anonymity.
Ace of Shades is told in alternate points of view by Enne and Levi, though not always chapter for chapter. It is action packed with more than it’s fair share of the seedier side of life. Magic, massacres, monarchists and a plot to take over the city with a massive side order of gambling when games of chance can be deadly.
Intriguing, dangerous, magical, morbid and magnificent. I can not wait for King of Fool’s to see what the City of Sin has in store for this ragtag gang of unlikely friends.
I would definitely recommend this to readers of YA fantasy. You don’t have to be a young adult to enjoy the journey these young people take to discover just what they’re capable of.