Set to release in North America on April 10, 2018, Ace of Shades is Amanada Foody’s second book. Set in the devilishly wicked City of Sin, Amanda Foody’s newest novel explores a world where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow. Readers will be swept away by the story of Enne Salta, a lady-to-be who must brave rowdy casinos, street gangs, and Ponzi schemes gone wrong as she searches for her missing foster mother – and the truth about her own past.
Thank-you to Edelweiss for providing me with the opportunity to receive a Digital Review Copy of Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody, in exchange for an honest review.
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 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 by Amanda Foody is a dark fantasy novel, the first in a planned trilogy, that promises to appeal to fans of bestselling authors Leigh Bardugo and Victoria Schwab – and after reading this book, I can assure you that it most certainly will. Loaded with rich world-building, timeless themes, and a cast of intriguing characters, Ace of Shades really does have it all – and that’s on top of Amanada Foody’s high-quality writing.
“They say the city is a game, one only the reckless play” – Ace of Shades, Amanda Foody.
Ace of Shades is set in the tantalizing and mysterious City of Sin, New Reynes, which is full of casinos and magic, street gangs and Ponzi schemes, and a mire of dangerous politics and even more deadly secrets – but this setting doesn’t feel overwhelming, nor does it feel as though Amanda Foody simply scratched the surface. This world had depth, and it has a personality of its own – much like a real city. One world-building technique I particularly enjoyed, primarily for its novelty, was the use of Enne’s guidebook to explain certain things. This information was juxtaposed with Levi’s knowledge of the city, and with Enne’s own experiences, building a detailed, rigorous setting.
“People do not play this game to win, my dear. They play this game not to lose” – Ace of Shades, Amanda Foody.
In Ace of Shades Foody explores classic themes of seeking the truth and finding where you belong. This is the core of the story – Enne’s search for her missing foster mother, Lourdes, and her search for the truth about her own past. These are themes that, despite the rich and evocative fantasy backdrop, are easy for readers to connect with and empathize with – as everyone, at some point, embarks on this journey of self-discovery, whether it be small or extensive. In addition to more current themes, Foody also explores topics such as sexuality and the culture of silence surrounding the topic of abuse, sexual assault and harassment. Every single one of these topics is handled tastefully and with the utmost respect for this topic, with Foody often seeking to empower Enne through her experiences of oppression and trauma, rather than having her become a simpering damsel in distress.
“She’d spent her entire life fighting for next to last. So if she had to play, she would not lose. She would not break” – Ace of Shades, Amanda Foody.
Even with rich world-building and a well-rounded story, some books often fall flat when it comes to what is perhaps the most important aspect of the story – the characters. This is not the case with Ace of Shades. Enne and Levi, who share the honor of providing the perspectives through which the reader experience New Reynes. Enne is a powerful lead female who begins her journey in New Reynes as a naive and timid young girl, handbook in hand, before undergoing some extensive character development throughout the novel, the result of which is a strong, self-assured woman who is not afraid to fight for what she wants. By comparison, Levi beings this story as a cold, closed-off gangster. Throughout the story, as his deadline approaches, and through his adventures with Enne, Levi begins to develop into a more relatable character that readers will identify with – especially when it comes to being stuck in something over your head. Enne and Levi are supported by Jac and Lola, and balanced by a cast of villains that is nearly as large as the cast of protagonists, including ruthless Casino Family leaders, corrupt officials, and the mysterious players of the Game of Shadows.
Overall, Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody is an exemplary beginning to this new dark fantasy trilogy, and truly does justice to showcasing Foody’s unique and powerful talents as a writer. Readers will love the setting of the story, the rich world-building and story-telling, and of course the cast of characters that make this novel what it is (5/5).