Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book in trilogy
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.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
This is an engaging read about magical con men and their schemes gone wrong, but also losing inhibitions and discovering secrets. I really liked that Enne’s arc could be taken as a negative one, but without feeling like she was destined for tragedy and ruin.
Plotwise, ACE OF SHADES is not like SIX OF CROWS, in that it’s not a heist book with a sprawling POV. However both books have a similar vibe – crooks and cons with magic and the underworld. The magic just makes the world more forbidden, and that’s the really fun thing about this sort of book; it allows the reader to experience a world they’re unlikely to ever brush sleeves with.
I loved how the allure of the forbidden was explored through Enne, a proper lady sucked into the world. Her innocence, ignorance and “properness” when she first arrives meant I was more like her than Levi. I found it much easier to be tucked into the world through her perspective because of her thrill of the illicit. Her outsider status also meant the world building could be explained naturally.
The ending fell a little flat for me. The Shadow Game had been built up all book as this big, looming, ominous death trap. It is frequently mentioned, so it was obvious that the book was leading there for the finale. The build up around it was superb, however the game itself was over in one chapter. I really wasn’t sure what the rules of the game were – I understood the aim and what was being laid as stakes, but not how the game worked. Instead I was just told who was winning and who was losing. It undercut a lot of the tension, and felt like a bit of a let down.
However, the book overall was good fun, and there are several threads hanging, so I will add the sequel to my list of books to read once my shelves are free of unread books.
Read my reviews of other books by Amanda Foody:
The Shadow Game (this series):
With Christine Lynn Herman:
All of Us Villains:
- ALL OF US VILLAINS (#1)