Book Review: KING OF FOOLS by Amanda Foody

Title in white on diamond patterned blue
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - second book in trilogy

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for ACE OF SHADES*

Synopsis:

Book cover for KING OF FOOLS: title in white on blue below shadow of dice

Indulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all…

On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Seance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with Vianca Augustine’s estranged son. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by the mafia donna’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: To sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive… Or die as legends.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

For a book this fat (600 pages!), KING OF FOOLS certainly reads fast. While it covers almost four months, it feels like events are happening in rapid succession thanks to rapid time jumps. I got through this in one day, drawn back into the City of Sin, and its dark underbelly.

Though the blurb implies a lot of politics, the book is actually mostly a character book. I was rather disappointed that it’s not a political book. Sure, they’re dancing around an election, but the meat of the book isn’t about schemes, but rather them working around the edges with cons to boost their gangs, and using violence.

Thankfully, I hadn’t really been expecting a political fantasy, or I might not have enjoyed this book so much. Given the first book, it didn’t feel right for this book to dive into the subtle tension of political manoeuvring.

Instead, the focus was on Levi and Enne being trapped by Vianca’s power to obey her, and trying to work within the constraints to get their freedom and own goals. There was a lot of interpersonal drama, as Enne went down a pretty self-destructive route in her grief and the secrets they kept from each other by choice and Vianca’s power tore them apart. They both have great relationships with other character both old – like Lola – and new – like Grace and Tock, who was great fun and stole a lot of scenes.

The best relationship, though, was Jac and Levi’s. Their strained friendship was the heart of the book, made all the more intense by having Jac narrate as the third POV. His journey is so satisfying to watch, and the rift between him and Levi really showed the worst aspects of Levi. It made the ending so shocking and I can’t really believe it went there! Part of me hopes it gets undo, but most of me doesn’t as the consequences of it lasting for the last book as immense.

Having just re-read the first book, I’d found the end of ACE OF SHADES a tad emotionally anti-climatic, and I have to say this book (with the exception mentioned above) felt rather the same. There was something unfinished feeling in it, and not in a penultimate-book-in-series, way either.

I kept waiting for there to be something more, something that would upend the fabric of the book and the world and make me question it but the reveals that did come didn’t come across as complete. Not hit me in a “shock” way, even though they came out of the blue. I think it’s a mixture of them not being fully set up and then the execution not being perfect. The major reveal I think wasn’t explained enough, because it relied entirely on piecing together the clues of the part snippets and inference and, not being woven into the story itself, it didn’t have that impact.

All that said, I am looking forwards to the finale, and I’m hoping the pieces come together to a slightly more satisfying ending.


Read my reviews of other books by Amanda Foody:

The Shadow Game (this series):

With Christine Lynn Herman:

All of Us Villains:

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