Series: The Shadow Game #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on April 10, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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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, 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.
Ace of Shades was pitched to me as a dark fantasy for fans of Six of Crows, which meant that I was beyond excited to get my hands on it. But I had heard some kind of average things about it and was hesitant to pick it up until now. And boy, am I mad at myself for waiting so long to pick it up!
The novel follows an upper class ‘lady’, Enne, who travels to a not so proper and upper class city, known as the City of Sin, to search for her mother who has been missing for months. Armed with just a letter telling her to seek help from a Levi Glaisyer, she runs into trouble from the first minute that she steps foot in the dangerous city of New Reynes/City of Sin. On Enne’s quest to discover the whereabouts of her mother, she strikes up deals with various people in the city, including Levi, who turns out to be a street lord, finds a new side of herself that she never knew existed, and even learns new things about her own identity.
I have to admit that I wasn’t really into it until about 20% of the way into the book. I found the world, the characters, and the magic system to be a bit of a steep learning curve at the start. There is political history that was a bit hard to follow and understand, and so many street gangs and members that I forgot the names of pretty much immediately. Though, this might have been because I was alternating between the audiobook and the physical book and just unnecessarily confusing myself. Once I’d reached the 100-page mark, I was enjoying the book a lot more and felt more settled into the world. I thought that the book was very reminiscent of Six of Crows, though there is no heist in this book and the world feels a lot more modern. There is a magic system that runs throughout the book and I thought it worked really well in the world that Amanda Foody has created, despite the contemporary-sort of setting of the book. I also have to applaud the audiobook narrator on doing a great job of setting the scene and creating a unique kind of accent for the residents of the City of Sin.
I highly enjoyed the plot of the book. It was captivating and immersive, and I was very invested in finding out the mystery of what happened to Enne’s mother and in the troubles that Levi was facing. I thought the pacing of the book was very well done. It’s set across 10 days but each day included something thrilling and exciting that balanced well with the more mundane parts of the plot. I was surprised by how much brutality there was in some of the scenes but loved the tension and excitement of it. The magic also made it exciting to read but I wish that it could have featured a bit more prominently and been explained more. In this world, each person has two types of talents, one coming from each parent. These talents can be aptitude talents that theoretically anybody could learn (dancing, maths) or special/mystery talents (I can’t quite remember what they’re called!) that are magical, such as seeing through people’s lies. I thought these were really interesting but they weren’t explained very well and they seemed to just work, which was kind of frustrating. My only other gripe with the plot and world were the made up curse words! Like what the heck is ‘muck’ and ‘shatz’? It was pretty mucking annoying.
I enjoyed the main cast of characters. Enne got on my nerves at the start because she came off as a bit snobby and annoying but I quickly grew to love her. Levi is no Kaz from Six of Crows but I still really enjoyed his character and how much he obviously cared for his friends and those close to him. I also really loved the side characters, Jac and Lola, and I’m excited to see more of them in the rest of the series! There is a little bit of a budding romance in this first installment between Enne and Levi, but I wasn’t a big fan of it because these feelings seemed to come a little bit out of nowhere. But I’m still keen to see where it goes in the next installment.
Ace of Shades had me engaged throughout the entire book because of its strong characters, captivating world and magic system, and intriguing plot. I’m highly looking forward to the next book in the series!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you to Harlequin Australia for providing review copy.
Ace of Shades is available at all Australian retailers for $19.99.
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