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The Shadow Game #1

Ace of Shades

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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.

411 pages, Hardcover

First published April 10, 2018

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About the author

Amanda Foody

23 books2,581 followers
Amanda Foody is the New York Times and indie bestselling author of All of Us Villains, the Wilderlore series, the Shadow Game series, and more. Her work has appeared in publications including Buzzfeed, Popsugar, Culturess, and Amazon selected All of Us Villains as the Best Young Adult Book of 2021. Originally from Pennsylvania, she lives in Boston, MA with her partner and their orange tabby, Jelly Bean. When not writing, she unironically loves to cook.

All of Our Demise, the sequel to All of Us Villains, will release on August 30, 2022. The third book in the Wilderlore series, The Ever Storms, will follow on February 7, 2023.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,445 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,965 reviews294k followers
April 10, 2018
Despite Enne’s flaws - namely that she was mucking annoying - she knew how to weasel in and out of a conversation.

You know what else is mucking annoying? Made up curse words like mucking! Fictional profanity almost always has me laughing (and not in a good way) but it was especially bad here because “mucking” is almost “fucking” but also hilariously… not.

But let's not get hung up on language. The bigger problem is that Ace of Shades is Six of Crows's shallower, less interesting sibling. It wishes it was Six of Crows. Levi Glaisyer wishes he was Kaz Brekker. But neither are.

We are presented with a weird and confusing world. There's a lot of world-building infodumps about Mizers and monarchists, Talents of Aptitude, Talents of Mysteries, and the miscegenation laws that used to exist between those of different talents. A lot of information but, unfortunately, not a lot of depth. It all seemed like a mishmash of boring politics borrowed from other fantasy novels and renamed here.

In this world, Enne Salta arrives in the City of Sin (alt-Vegas, basically) in search of her missing mother. Armed only with a letter in which her mother instructs her to find Levi Glaisyer, Enne must navigate this place of greed and gluttony, casinos and drugs, and uncover the truth about her mother's disappearance as well as her own past.

When I read Six of Crows, I kinda forgot that the characters were supposed to be teenagers - I was able to suspend disbelief enough to shrug that detail off - but here it is much more glaring. Levi is not very convincing as a seventeen year old street lord and con man. It was laughable to imagine this guy ruling the streets of the City of Sin.

And, in general, none of the characters stood out to me. Enne seems kind of stupid and naive to an astonishing degree - she walks knowingly into gang dens, purchases a guidebook that she barely reads (Levi has to inform her what’s in it), accidentally leaves her belongings behind, and a few chapters in and she is already eyeing up Levi:
“She allowed herself to admit that Levi Glaisyer was very good-looking— at least, in an up-to-no-good way that she supposed some people found attractive.”

Cue the cheesy romance.

Enne does experience some growth, but even that felt like nothing new. Enne’s story of sheltered-girl-turned-badass is one I'm certain I've read before. About a thousand times. Her initial prudishness is annoying, too.

The third person, combined with the somewhat lackluster plot, made it really difficult to connect. The writing itself is nothing special and doesn't conjure much emotion, so I spent pretty much the whole novel feeling detached. I was just so mucking bored.

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Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
July 30, 2018
I LOOOOOOVED Ace of Shades so much. What an exhilarating, fantastical start to a fantasy series!

CW: violence, pedophilia (it’s totally condemned in the story)

I adore Amanda Foody’s writing style. It is so descriptive and easy to engage with. The entire time I felt as if I was traveling New Reynes alongside Enne and Levi. The world is extremely vivid and atmospheric. The history of the world was a tad difficult for me to retain at first because there’s quite a lot of info and it is ALL so important, but I noticed a distinct improvement in worldbuilding as compared to the author’s debut. I personally consider Amanda Foody to be one of the most talented YA authors to have been published in the last two years.

The magic system/talents of this world were FASCINATING to me. Each person is gifted with two talents based on their family names. The talents extend anywhere from classic elemental magic to protection to dancing/acrobatics and even COUNTING. The variety among talents was very unique in my opinion and unlike many other magic systems, but I also enjoyed seeing the social view of different families associated with the same talent. (For example, Enne is a Salta which is a dancing talent, but Salta’s are considering among the lower class of dancing families therefore she is treated differently.) I found this system to be immensely complex and intriguing and I cannot wait to see it develop more throughout the sequel.

The characters were so wonderful and loveable. Enne has fantastic character development, transforming from a girl of etiquette and virtue to a rebel and ultimate BADASS in the City of Sin. Levi strikes an interesting balance between sweet and protective while committing some immoral acts against those he cares for. I love that we have a black bisexual protagonist, but even more, I love that we have a male lead that does not shy away from being fragile and scared. Lordes is another interesting character, as Enne’s adoptive, genderfluid mother who has gone missing. I was impressed to see how much development she was given despite being a non-active character in the story. The villains are another fantastic addition to the story – Although this is a fantasy story, I adored how they were terrifying for more human/realistic traits instead of possessing a stronger magical power. All around the characters were well-developed, intriguing, and addictive. I love them all and cannot wait to see more.

The only real critique I have for Ace of Shades is that there were a few moments where I had to sort of just accept facts of the story as true without fully understanding the basis. I wouldn’t necessarily consider them “holes” in the plot, I just wished they were a little bit better explained. I noticed a similar issue with the authors debut, but I feel Ace of Shades is more finely executed compared to it’s predecessor, so there is still progress that deserves to be noted! That being said, these moments are not deal breakers for me when it comes to reading and the positives of the story HEAVILY outweigh my minor critiques.

Overall, Ace of Shades was amazing. Please read it. I am totally obsessed with this story. Now excuse me while I spend the next year of my life anxiously awaiting book two.

I was provided a copy of this book for free by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.7k followers
October 5, 2019
to compare this to ‘six of crows’ has been a disservice to not only the reader, but to both books, as well. it sets an impossibly high standard, one that will only lead to disappointment. having seen a lot of negative reviews in regards to how this book was pitched and the comparisons made, i decided to go into this with a completely open mind and no expectations whatsoever - which i think is the only thing you can do in this particular situation. and it completely paid off because i quite liked this!

the story itself was interesting. not exactly unique, but just the right amount of captivation to keep me engaged in the plot. if i could change anything, it would be the world building as it was a little weak - the reader is kind of just dropped into this city and expected to go along with everything. which wasnt too bad considering there was a lot happening with the plot and the quick pacing, but like, for example. the game of shadows is mentioned numerous times throughout the book, but i honestly had no idea what it really was until it actually happened. and even then, it only lasted one chapter! the story definitely focuses on the characters more than the world around them.

but overall, this was still really good and im pretty sure i will continue the series when the next book comes out. i would suggest anyone eyeing this to go ahead and give it a try, but to get rid of the expectations that it will be the same as another book you have previously read and loved.

4 stars
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,543 reviews9,858 followers
May 20, 2023
Welcome to New Reynes, a self-proclaimed City of Sin.

Sheltered and innocent, Enne Salta, arrives in New Reynes on a search for her adoptive mother, Lourdes, who has gone missing.

Enne's only lead, one name: Levi Glaisyer.

Fortunately for Enne, it doesn't take her long to track down Levi. He's a bit infamous in New Reynes. That is when the fun begins.

Swept up into this new and dangerous world, Enne feels overwhelmed, but despite her initial culture shock, she finds New Reynes bringing her to life in ways she never imagined possible.

Within the city, Enne feels seen for the first time.

I truly enjoyed watching Enne's story arc from vulnerable waif to certifiable badass!

Levi, Enne's opposite in almost every way, is a street kid, card dealer and Lord of a local street gang.

Not unsurprisingly, we discover he has a heart of gold, that heart swiftly develops a sweet spot for Enne.

Together, Enne and Levi, try to solve the mystery of Lourdes true identity and what has happened to her.

Alternating perspectives, we learn more about the behind the scenes operation of the city and its many corrupt industries.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this book for me was the varied cast of side characters.
Bringing humor and depth, this crew is quite the pack of lovable misfits.

As far as negatives go, I really only had one issue: the magic system.

I feel in this volume it was under-developed. There are many concepts that are given names, but no explanation or definition. For me, I felt like there was a lot of ambiguity.

I read a lot of fantasy and do not expect to be spoon fed concepts, but it shouldn't be a mystery either as to how a world is functioning.

I was at the very end of the book, in one of the final scenes, still not understanding what was happening with the magic. This issue is actually laced throughout the book which can make sections of it confusing.

With this being said, I am so excited to move forward with this series and am anxiously awaiting the release of the second book, King of Fools.

I thought the ending was perfect and now I want SO MUCH MORE!!

Overall, I feel this is solid start to a series that a lot of people will enjoy due to the action and sweet romance.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Harlequin Teen, for providing me with the opportunity to read this book early and provide my opinions.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,664 reviews5,144 followers
October 22, 2021
When this book’s synopsis first started circulating the YA book community, I was unspeakably excited for it. A book about dangerous gangs and gambling, with a bi young man of color as one of the protagonists? Sign me up! Unfortunately, this book suffered the same problem I have with the author’s debut, Daughter of the Burning City—it has a lot of cool ideas at play, but the execution leaves a little bit to be desired.

The photograph of Luckluster Casino matched the stories of New Reynes: red lights that flashed without flame, women of loose morals dancing on street corners in sparkling, skin-tight corsets, gambling dens beckoning passersby with seedy smiles and the allure of fast fortune.

Amanda Foody proved with DOTBC that she’s capable of weaving some very aesthetic settings, whether it’s a twisted carnival city of sin, or a slum full of casinos hiding wicked gang lords and thieves. I love a good casino or gang slum setting, so that was one of the first things that piqued my interest about Ace of Shades.

“So you cheat,” she said, the contempt obvious in her voice.
“We make a business out of winning.”

My biggest problem was that I couldn’t ever fully buy in to the characters. The story alternates perspectives, and first, we have Levi Glaisyer, lord of the Irons gang, orb-maker, and criminal genius. More than anything, I adored the diversity of his character being an unapologetically bisexual young Black man, which is a role I have so rarely seen in YA fantasy. (Speaking of diversity, I’d also note here that Enne’s mother, Lourdes, is a gender-fluid character, which was a nice added bonus, despite not being a prominent piece of the story.)

On the other hand, where similar YA fantasy characters would often seem vicious and hardened, Levi also stands apart in a bad way: he is a teddy bear to a fault. Despite the fact that we’re told he’s an infamous gang lord in “The City of Sin”, where he holds his own against multiple other gangs and crooks, none of Levi’s actions actually made me feel that he was capable, much less the ruthless criminal I was expecting. Levi is a really lovable and warm character—I just didn’t find him to be particularly three-dimensional.

Pretty or not, Levi wondered if he had ever met such a delicate, unpleasant creature.

The other protagonist of the book is Enne Salta, who I unfortunately disliked from front cover to back, no matter how hard I tried to enjoy her chapters. She comes onto the scene incredibly uppity and snobbish, and never fully loses that trait, even though a week’s time in the story tries to transform her from a boarding school ballerina to a terrifying assassin. Again, much like with Levi’s progression, it all felt very insincere and forced to me.

Another complaint I had about the story is minor, but applied to the entire cast of characters pretty evenly: the made-up swears in this book are nearly unbearable. I personally don’t usually mind when a book replaces curse words with made-up terms, as long as it’s used sparingly, but after a handful of chapters, I was sighing inwardly every time a character said “mucking” or “shatz”.

All you know are stories, Enne told herself. And not all stories are true.

On a happier note, I enjoyed quite a few aspects of the story. There are a lot of moving parts to the plot (almost too many, to be fair), and quite a few of them felt very “new” and unique to me, such as the volt orbs for currency, or the inherited talents that each individual has (one from each parent, with one talent being stronger than the other). I was genuinely impressed by a lot of these details and would certainly be interested in learning more about the history of the world. I wish we had been given more back story to the world that New Reynes takes place in, but this is only the first book of the series, so hopefully, future installments will provide further explanation.

All in all, I thought this book fell right in the middle of the scale—I enjoyed myself well enough to finish the story, but I don’t feel any pressing need to continue the series or learn what happens next. That said, I can easily see this story becoming a quick favorite for a lot of readers—especially anyone who enjoys casino settings, and does not mind slightly underdeveloped storytelling and world-building. While it wasn’t entirely my cup of tea, if the synopsis of Ace of Shades interests you, I would certainly recommend picking it up and giving it a try.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Harlequin Teen for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for High Lady of The Night Court.
135 reviews5,056 followers
April 28, 2019
This is one of the most interesting books I've read in this year. Its has the feel of Caraval and Six of Crows all mixed together with a hint of fantasy. AMAZING and maybe even going on my favorites list. I'm in shock I can't get over how great this book is. The whole concept is fascinating and kept my interest peaked at all times. The writing is amazing, the world is very well thought out and the City of Sin is one of the most exciting places I've read about. I like this more than Daughter of The Burning City.

The plot picked up very quickly and maintained a pretty good pace. The book has a vibe of mystery about it and has a very engaging plot. The mystery was a major aspect of the book but the fantasy wasn't overshadowed and played a major role in maintaining the intrigue surrounding the story. I love the characters and how each of their personalities played a role in revealing more of the story. The book is written in two perspectives and both play a very important role as one person is intimately familiar with the City of Sin while the other knows nothing. So watching the story play out in the eyes of two people with very different life experiences enhances everything they go through in the book.

Enne once aimed to be the perfect lady and dreamed of her entrance to society, sounds very snobbish doesn't she, but she's actually a really fierce girl with a great personality. Enne was raised in Bellamy which is full of the most snobbish people in the world and is never taken notice of as she is neither rich nor talented. The only person she took comfort in was her adoptive mother who is now missing and Enne sets out to the City of Sin to find out what happened to the one person who was her family. But turns out her mother is not who she thought she was and was leading another life entirely. And that may not be the only thing her mother lied to her about.

Levi is the Iron Lord. He makes his living leading the Irons, who are one of the three gangs in the City of Sin. He knows nearly everything there is to know about the city but his life is not as simple as it would seem. He was dragged into a scam that is most likely going to get him killed and in working his way to save his life he hasn't been able to benefit the gang he is supposed to lead.

Both Enne and Levi are going to work toward their goals but as they do so they both get dragged into something they may not be able to get out of.

The fantasy element of this book is that every person has 2 talents one blood talent and one split talent. The blood talent is stronger and the split talent is usually weaker. And the talents can be like singing, dancing, acrobatics, and some rare ones can be magical like being able to summon a fire or cast a
I wish I was in this world because about right nowthe only talents I seem to have are all related to books.

This is an absolutely amazing story and I urge you to try it. I give this book 5 stars and CAN'T WAIT for the next one.

"People do not play this game to win, my dear. They play this game not to lose."
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,472 reviews9,647 followers
April 27, 2018
I was so glad to get this book in my Owlcrate! Click on link below picture to see the unboxing.


Well, I'm freaking bummed! I loved Daughter of the Burning City but this book didn't do it for me. Oh well, hopefully I will love her next book like I did her debut book!

Happy Reading!

Mel 🖤🐾🐺
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
February 20, 2019
it is with a heavy heart I must announce that I just don’t care about anything that happened in this book.
All you know are stories, Enne told herself. And not all stories are true.

I should start this off by acknowledging that this book is built on a lot of good ideas. Ace of Shades takes place in what is described as a city of sin, a sort of Old Vegas meets Venice. There’s enemies to lovers, a very diverse cast (the book’s romantic interest is black & bisexual), an intriguing magic system, and the broad outline of the two lead characters is quite good.

The issue is that nothing about this book ever really feels like it gels. This book, feels, to me, like a lot of good ideas cobbled into something that just never really goes beyond its elements.

Perhaps the main problem here is I never felt any investment in 1) the characters or 2) the overarching plot. In terms of the characters, I had a very simple issue: Levi and Enne genuinely bored me. Levi is fairly likable and has the broad outline of a character arc revolving around personal agency. Enne is honestly… incompetent, and has a character arc revolving around finding her role in the world. I tend to struggle with less competent characters.

In terms of the plot, I was equally disappointed — the arc of the book has very little thematic weight. And I just genuinely thought that while the outline had a lot of potential, there is a whole lot of nothing happening here. The plot twists get wilder and wilder and the actual details of the story simply build and build, but I never found a reason to care, so I stopped remembering the details.

I think this author will probably write something I enjoy far more in a few years. But for now? I’m not into this.

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Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,443 reviews78.1k followers
June 28, 2018

No one is more disappointed than I am that this rating is anything less than 5 STARS. I went in wholly expecting to adore this story; the cover is gorgeous and the comparisons to Six Of Crows had me cautiously fangirling over this book from the moment I knew of it's existence. Throw in the fact that I absolutely loved Daughter Of The Burning City last year and I was completely sold. Unfortunately, this one just didn't work for me.

I'm not here to deter anyone from picking this up, as I think the main reason I didn't enjoy this was purely based on reading preferences and nothing actually harmful from the book itself. Ace Of Shades has some awesome representation and an intriguing premise, but I think maybe I was a little too old to appreciate this level of YA. In fact, even though some of the content was slightly unsettling, I think the younger side of YA may enjoy this more than those closer to the NA age. The language used felt on the immature side, and I just found myself constantly zoning out or dozing off while reading this. I was bored. There, I said it. Again, I definitely think this is just a matter of opinion and I genuinely wish any and all readers more success with this book than I had.

Review copy furnished by the publisher.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,167 reviews98.2k followers
May 9, 2018

“The City of Sin was a game, but not everyone was a player.”

Ace of Shades was for sure not what I was expecting. Some said it was like one of my favorite series of all time, Six of Crows, but I didn’t see that. A lot of people said it had a setting like the city I live in currently, Vegas, and I suppose I see it, but it is a stretch and for sure a very big fantastical interpretation and based on every stereotype you think of when you think of Vegas (which are mostly all untrue). I mean, maybe like Old Vegas, Fremont Street style, but for sure not my Las Vegas in 2018. Yet, if I honestly had to compare this story and its feel to anything, I’d compare it to Caraval, but I even feel like that’s a weak comparison. But regardless of what people compare this book too, I thought it was its own unique concept, and it was overall an enjoyable read.

This story starts out with a girl and her guidebook and a city filled with sin and mystery. We get to follow her during the span of ten days, while also seeing if this new town will ultimately make or break her. And Enne Salta was forced to come to New Reynes, because her adoptive mother went missing, but not before she was able to send a letter to Enne letting her know where to go and who to trust.

And the only name on the letter is Levi Glaisyer, a boy who has only been hardened by this unforgiving city. Also, Levi is black and bi and warmed my heart throughout the entire story. And, Enne’s missing mother, Lourdes, is gender-fluid, which was such an amazing addition! But Enne and Levi quickly realize that Lourdes was living a very dangerous secret life, and they are quickly trying to unravel the secrets. And even though, Levi is not the easiest person to like at first, we soon find out he is a leader of one of the three gangs in New Reynes!

The Scarhands - the largest gang, ran by Reymond Kitamura, and specializes in counterfeits, forgeries, and weapon trading.
The Doves - all the gang members dye their hair white to match their lord, Ivory, and they specialize in being assassins.
The Irons - the smallest gang, lead by none other than Levi, and they specialize in gambling and opportunity, wherever they may find it.

“Do not reveal your emotions, especially your fear.
Never allow yourself to be lost.
Trust is a last resort.”

And with only Levi for Enne to trust, they embark on an adventure that ends up being even bigger than either of them expected. And they soon realize that there are much bigger problems in the City of Sin than these three gangs. There are two mafia-like families that truly rule this city: the Augustines and the Torrens. And Enne’s path soon crosses with a member from each of these houses.

“The worst hurt in the world was the kind you grew to accept.”

Also, in this world, all humans have a special ability or two that are inherited from their lineage. If you have one, you’re considered pure, but most people in this story have two. And there is a vast array of powers, in a varying scale of strengths! From specializing in dance, to being able to make the currency in this world, to be able to read people’s minds, there are so many different magical talents! And one of my favorite things about this book was learning what everyone inherited.

My problem was that I had a hard time connecting to the world and the characters right off the bat. But once I passed the half way point? I ended up really loving the end of this. It was so fast paced, and addicting, and I needed to know all the answers to all the mysteries. I honestly couldn’t put it down. I loved the ending so much, and I think it had the perfect setup for the next book.

I also want to mention that the main villain in this book is a grown man that has a fetish for young girls. We don’t get to see any of these terrible acts on the page, but there are many hints. But we get to see him sexually assault (unwanted touching) to a character we follow. He does some gross things, and insinuates a lot of even grosser things, so please use caution when reading this book, because I did not know going in. Trigger and content warnings for pedophilia, addiction, drug use, gambling, death, loss of a loved one, torture, and violence.

“Avarice, pride, and lust - these are all modest desires. What the city of sin craves is destruction.”

Overall, I really did think this was a fun and different story. I will for sure continue on with the series with King of Fools! Especially because I need more of Lola, who was my favorite character in this entire book. But I think this was a really great start to what I’m sure will be an even more amazing trilogy!

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♤♡ Amanda Foody’s Pinterest Board and playlist for Ace of Shades!

Buddy read with Courtney from Curly Book Owl, Julie from Pages and Pens, Jules at JA Ironside, Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills, Lourdes at Chapters We Love, & Alexis at The Sloth Reader! ❤

This was in the April 2018 OwlCrate box!
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews48.7k followers
November 11, 2019
Fun fact about me: I need to stop reading books solely because they’re compared to Six of Crows.

It invariably results in disappointment.

Honestly I think it’d be fairer for publishers to stop comparing every. Single. Dark YA fantasy to Six of Crows, but APPARENTLY that’s not going to happen so. Looks like the responsibility lies on me.

My life is so hard.


(Emphasis on the word knockoff.)

This is a dark YA fantasy where a ragtag crew of diverse teens live in a Fantastical City Of Magic and Crime and there are gangs and casinos (our male protagonist is even a gang leader, for god’s sake - even his NAME, Levi Glaisyer, sounds like Kaz Brekker) and Good Girls Gone Bad (OUR FEMALE PROTAGONIST IS A SNEAKY DANCER) and heists and thievery and general Planning.

That, my friend, is the exact same concept as Six of Crows. You can’t fool me.

Except Ace of Shades is SoC but minus the excitement and banter and lovable characters and fun and Planning Action Montages and good quality world-building and magic.

So what is all of that replaced with, you might ask?

Well, I live to suffer, so this shouldn’t surprise you.


And I hate it with my life. I am not here to read about how cute Levi Glaisyer thinks Enne Salta’s cookie addiction is. If I wanted to read about a girl thinking about little else besides cookies, I could read anything I’ve ever written.


Plus, as if the gross love and the general this-is-a-worse-version-of-Six-of-Crows feeling that pervades were not enough. THERE IS MORE.

The world-building is really weird and...bad? It has nothing to offer that a million other YA fantasy worlds don’t, minus the fact that it was sloppily done and I still don’t really get it. (What the hell is a Mizer? Why are there different types of Talent? Why is there so much political history if I still don’t understand any of it or really why it matters?)

And the fun of Kaz Brekker as a character is that he manages to be both human and very, very good at what he does. Levi Glaisyer is...not. He is, in fact, a very terrible crime lord. I feel that if I were suddenly shoved into the streets of the City of Sin (which, sure, just steal the nickname for an existing real life city because who even cares at this point), I would make a better gang leader than this lil boy.

It’s a low bar for success.

Similarly, Enne is no fun to read about, because she spends the whole book being prim and proper and completely f*cking stupid and then suddenly transforms into...not very proper but still unbelievably dumb? Levi has to save her all the time, but he’s also a total dumbass so then Enne has to save him, but she’s also still dumb so then she needs to be rescued, and the whole thing ends up like an Abbott and Costello routine except with who’s dumber.

The only thing worse than a damsel in distress is TWO damsels in distress.

And also the damsels are in stupid, boring, uninteresting, unwanted love.

Bottom line: This was so completely un-fun it was astonishing.


*picture me standing on some rooftops, absolutely screaming*



review to come / 1.5 stars


i will read literally anything that's supposed to be like six of crows
Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
369 reviews977 followers
September 24, 2020
The reviews put me off reading this book at first and now I’m so frustrated because I’ve been denying myself such a good book for ages!!!

This was so unexpectedly good! A prim and proper finishing school girl meets a rough and ambitious street lord and I SHIP IT SO MUCH! I loved the 1920s Las Vegas-esque setting and the magic system and ahhh so good!

I can’t wait to jump into book two. If anyone fears it being a Six of Crows knockoff - as the other reviews claim - have no fear. There aren’t really any similarities AT ALL. If anything, this has some similarities to Caraval with a magical game atmosphere.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
663 reviews3,893 followers
June 8, 2018
she was a pistol wrapped in silk.
she was a blade disguised as a girl

alright alright alright listen up, listen here. This book is a whole lotta fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it! In fact I'm eagerly awaiting the official release so I can read a completed physical edition.

🃏 a dark, complex, fantasy world where gangs run the streets and lure unsuspecting visitors into their gambling parlours, where crime rules and turf wars brew and at the heart of it all, a deadly history no one wants to talk about
🃏 a girl called Enne, who's looking for her mother in the City of Sin, and gets a lot more then she bargained for
🃏 a black, bisexual boy called Levi, a card dealing extraordinaire, who also keeps a closet full of lost things left behind after nights with strangers because he's just that SUAVE
🃏 a deadly game that threatens to take our heroes lives, unless they can do the impossible and win
🃏 mysteries, tricks and twists abound!
🃏 a book that definitively did NOT rip off soc, 1: because Amanda Foody has been writing this for YEARS and 2: because it's literally not anything like soc, so don't listen to those people

this book is a RIDE and I loved it I admit at first it can be kinda hard to get into. There's a lot of information thrown at you, but there's not much happening.

But when this book gets into it's paces it FLIES by. I got so wrapped up in the mystery and intrigue of the plot. I really like that Amanda Foody gives you just enough to keep you interested but not enough to make this predictable.

The cast of characters are colourful and fun. Both hero and villain wise. Our heroes are easy to get behind, with realistic motivations, that makes you root for them even when they're doing bad. I think the villains are also done so well here. They've also given some depth but you totally loathe them. I also like that there is some interesting, not so well explored characters who will be explored more in the sequels. I'm super interested in seeing how these characters are used in the upcoming books.

Above all, Amanda Foody NAILED atmosphere. The City of Sin has such a tangible presence because Amanda Foody uses such detailed and interesting description to bring her setting to life. This made the entire setting so vivid in my mind and for me, world building is actually kind of a big deal. The division of the city amongst the gangs, and how the politics between each division affected the city and characters was really interesting too and I appreciated how well thought out and detailed it was.

I also APPRECIATED that damn romance. Slow burn and angsty as fuck !! I LOVE that.

“People do not play this game to win, my dear. They play this game not to lose.”

My favourite part was the end of the book (not like, that it was ending. I mean the final chapters) they were SO GOOD AND EXCITING. But I can't say much about them without spoiling you all! :( SO YOU'LL HAVE TO READ THIS AND DISCOVER WHAT I MEAN FOR YOURSELF.

I genuinely really liked this and I can't wait for the sequel! This had so many things I love in YA fantasy: An interesting world, a good plot twist, romantic tension and slow burn and gritty, morally grey characters.
Profile Image for Caz (littlebookowl).
301 reviews40.3k followers
April 12, 2018
Rating: 3.5 stars

I will be doing a full spoiler-free review soon!

Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
765 reviews2,382 followers
December 28, 2021
Levi stood up and reached for his hat on the table.
“Where are you going?” Enne asked.
“Out. There are volts to make and people to cheat.”
He flashed her a smile. She was lucky he hadn’t cheated her.
He was feeling sentimental today.

(December 2021: note to self - RE-READ THIS GEM ASAP!)

Attempt #2 of reading this book didn't disappoint.
I'm kind of relieved to announce that, with a cover and a premise like that, Amanda Foody's Ace of Shades delievers what it promises.
Nothing more and nothing less than that, but it surely give its reader what the reader expects and deserves.

Foody's writing is good, easy to read and follow, and once you get into the right optic, once every detail of the world-building starts sounding familiar and making sense, it gets even spontaneous to imagine it all being realistic.
Plus, the plot is fast-paced and extremely entertaining, with many twists and smirking moments you can't help but gush about.
I kind of imagined it to be another heist story, but it concentrated more on the gang-y dynamics and intrigues, on the gambling and various tricks, which I kind of didn't mind.
I liked the characters and their characterization more than anything, I think. Levi was a favorite and a pleasant surprise, and even if I found Enne a bit stiff and boring during the first half of the book, she really grew on me to the point I completely changed my mind about her, after she embraced the fact that she can be a proper lady and kick ass at the same time.
There were things, like the fantasy element I wish would have been more prominent, that didn't exactly worked for me and, although it was a nicely done slow burn, I could have easily done without the romance. I had overall a really good time reading this, it was funny and very visual.
I also really appreciated what the author did with the casting (veeeeeeery diverse, but not in a hey-look-at-me-i'm-diverse kind of way) and, I don't think there's need for me to confirm it, but I could never turn my back to a well-written and genuine girl frienship, body-positivity, and an almost perfect bi representation.
This book is far from perfect, but it's a good book with a good story, and I really agree with people who say you shouldn't go into this thinking it could ever hold comparison with Six of Crows and consequently expecting it to be its legacy.
Sure, you can tell there is more than one similarity between the two. The gambling and money talks and thirst for one, and then we have similar protagonists and settings starting from the main character Levi (who is, in my opinion, the perfect mash up between Kaz Brekker and Jesper Fahey) and ending with the kind of atmosphere you breath through the pages of each novel.
But alas -or luckily-, this ain't not Six of Crows and the Irons are definitely not the Dregs, but you know what? It's more than okay, because I'd rather read a book that is a few inches above okay but has its own originality, than one that's the carbon copy of one so many people have already read and loved.
I think Ace of Shades is more oriented to entertain and less dark than SoC, though.
It's without a doubt the kind of lightness that draws an enormous difference between a book and the other, and that makes Ace of Shades more forgettable but also more easily enjoyable.
And, anyway, Levi, Enne and all their friends are nice guys, with their own depth and defying traits (I looooooove Mansi and Jac so much), and I grew fond of each one of them. Not to the point of obsessing over their complexed personalities, but like the good fellows I wish I had in my own street gang.
Again, I think comparing the two won't be fair, but I'm using Bardugo's successful novel to give you an idea of what you might find if you ever decide to give this a chance.
As for me, I'm glad I did.

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Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
593 reviews3,541 followers
June 24, 2019
“Ten days.

Ten days to figure out how to beat his enemies at their own game.”

Kaz Brekker would have so much fun with Levi Glaisyer. He'd fleece Levi dry, then convince him Halloween pumpkins are a good investment in December.

Look, in the olden days, a kinder, softer Natalie might have given Ace of Shades 3 stars. There's nothing overtly offensive about it. The writing's decent (if a bit tryhard at times), there are clear stakes, okay world-building—all in all, a solid YA fantasy. But these days, thesis deadlines are squeezing my fun-meter dry and when I sit down with a book to relax, I expect to be transported.

I paid for a good time in the City of Sin and I didn't get it.

Ace of Shades is very obviously inspired by Six of Crows, but falls completely flat where Crows soared. I can't buy Levi being a street lord at 17. He's too youthful, too inexperienced. Kaz, despite his age, was depicted as wise beyond his years and fully capable of commanding a gang. Levi actually acts his age, which is fine except his whole backstory falls apart. He should've been knocked down ages ago.

The romance has the finesse of a Donald Trump speech. I had the same issue with Descendant of the Crane. The hero/heroine notes that the other party looks attractive, but gee whiz, I’m certainly not going to fall for him/her! Nosiree, there’s more important business afoot! Then several chapters later, they’re pawing at each other in a broom closet. Where’s the slow burn from friendship to love? Or if it’s enemies-to-lovers, the hatred to grudging respect to tentative friendship to angsty love? I'd prefer slow uncertain development rather than the literary equivalent of a topic sentence.

Also, the guidebook excerpts in front of every section are cool, but makes no sense when you actually think about it. Guidebooks are meant to promote tourism and bring in capital. Those excerpts just warn people away. Have fun building a new bridge with your meager treasury.

Points for Levi being bisexual, though the primary romance is heterosexual so make of that what you will.
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,554 followers
August 16, 2017
Very interesting story, quite unlike anything else I've read before. Really enjoyed my time reading this one.
Profile Image for Silvia .
635 reviews1,404 followers
April 22, 2019
I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via Edelweiss for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH this book was such a pleasant surprise!!! I haven't read the author's debut yet so I didn't know what to expect, but now I'm looking forward to both continuing the series and keeping an eye out for whatever else she published (as well as reading DotBC).


The story takes place in New Reynes, a town split in two, and specifically almost all the events take place in the North side which is basically a crime den with different gangs and crime/mafia-like families.

The setting was really interesting because it combined modern elements (they have electriciy, a subway system, showers, cars...) with more traditional clothing (at least I pictured the clothes nineteenth-century-like) and traditions/history.

The town is still unstable because there's been a revolution recently (about twenty or twenty-five years before the events of the book) and the monarchy has been overturned, the royal family killed (French revolution-y) and now in its stead there's a Republic, of which New Reynes is the capital. However, after the fall of the monarchy, there were still many supporters that had to live in secrecy and write under pen names. This seems like random info but it's actually really important to the plot.

In the North side of New Reynes corruption and crime prevail, and the territory is basically divided into three gangs: the Irons, the Scarhands and the Doves. That's not all, because there's also two casino/mafia families, the Augustines, whose boss is Vianca, and the Torrens.

Magic is also fully integrated in the worldbuilding, and I found the magic system very interesting. Basically, everyone is born with talents, and they can be split or "pure". Your last name(s) are an indication of that, so for example if your last name is Salta, (one of) your talents is dancing. Some families' talents are better/stronger, and talents aren't only "normal" physical abilities like dancing or acrobatics but they are also magic, like fire or protection or blood gazing etc.


Enne Abacus Salta comes to New Reynes to find her adoptive mother Lourdes Alfero, who has been missing for months. All she has is a handful of volts (which is the official currency) and a name: Levi Glaisyer. Her mother told her she should find him and he will protect her because he owes her a favor, but what Enne finds out is that Levi is not only a criminal but the Iron Lord.

Enne is a great heroine. She comes to New Reynes all scared, naive and and snobbish, and she's thrown in the City of Sin where everything goes exactly how it shouldn't have gone, and by the end of the book it's hard to tell where is the line between who she has become and who she should have been all along. Her development was believable and it flowed smoothly, there wasn't a moment where she was her old self and then suddenly the next moment she was someone else entirely.

She became who she had to be in her new surroundings and even when she saw her own world and morals and even her own self questioned, she didn't let that blind her on her quest.

Levi Glaisyer is the second main character (he and Enne have alternating POVs) and he is now one of my favorite male protagonists in YA. He's like a softer Kaz Brekker and I say this in the best way possible. He takes great pride in being the Iron Lord and he genuinely cares for the kids in his gang and it breaks his heart when he can't pay them appropriately. He is ambitious and I love how he repeatedly tells himself that he is meant for more. He dreams of being "king" but he's broken and trapped and even though he keeps his poker face in front of the world, his internal monologue is extremely rich and he's very in touch with his feelings.

He's also black and bisexual (there aren't labels for sexuality in this world but it's pretty clear) and let me tell you how freaking happy it made me to see a male love interest in a YA fantasy who is canonically bisexual and shows attraction to both boys and girls on page.

- This first book really focused more on Enne and Levi and didn't leave much space for other characters' development, but I found that the others still had a good characterization and I believe it will only improve in the next installments. We have Jac which is Levi's second and his friend; Reymond who is the boss of the Scarhands and despite being in a different gang he's also Levi's friend of sorts; Lola who is introduced later in the book but promises to be a great character and, despite their initial differences, she and Enne are tentative friends (and I can't wait to see more of this girl friendship).

There are several bad guys of different factions and importance, and they were as fleshed out as they could be in the first book of a trilogy where the POV characters don't know all that much about them. I especially expect great things from Vianca, who is a truly unlikeable villain but also really interesting.


The plot revolves around the search for Enne's mother, Lourdes. Enne and Levi meet early on and they both realize they need to stick together for different reasons. Levi helps Enne get a job but he unknowingly puts her in even more danger than she already is.

Levi is also in trouble himself and needs to get ten thousand volts within ten days, and the book opens on Day 1, progressing to Day 10. This is a minor detail that contributed to creating more suspense and it was also nice to keep track of how many days Enne had been in town, after how much time certain things happened, etc.

There were a few times were I didn't see a twist coming, and I was always super engaged with the story and the characters. Maybe a few things were a little bit too convenient (but maybe they will be explained later on), but I personally don't care that much about that and it also didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the book.


Minors spoilers ahead I guess, so skip this section if you don't want to know!

So, if this wasn't obvious from the blurb, Enne and Levi catch feelings for each other. There's no instalove and the way their relationship develops from "it's actually really convenient for both of us if we stick together" to "well we're both in deeper shit than we thought" to "you're actually not so bad so I guess we're kinda friends now" to "oh shit I have romantic feelings for you but I'm sure you don't feel the same way" is believable and well written.

The double POV works well both for the actual plot and for the romance itself. THE PINING IS REAL, FOLKS, and I haven't shipped a m/f couple this much in a while.

Also let me clarify that although Levi might seem like the "bad boy" type, he's actually really good to Enne from the beginning. Sure, he teases her for her snobbery, but there's never any actual abuse or anything unforgivable, and it's pretty sad that I have to write this in a review but yes, let me make this absolutely clear for those of you wary of romance in YA: THIS IS A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP.


Levi is black and bisexual. I remember at least one other very minor black character, and one important side character is gay.

Enne's mother is never shown on page but is still a central character (the plot revolves around finding her) and they way they talk about her she seems to be genderqueer (uses she/her) and to be only attracted to women.

The book manages to be casually queer and it's no big deal, and let me reiterate how important and how unseen it is in YA to have a male bisexual main character and love interest in a m/f ship. I personally can't think of any example where this happens, but this is exactly the kind of casual queerness that I want to see in books.

Overall it's safe to say that I absolutely loved this book. I hadn't read YA fantasy like this in a while and it reminded me why I love the genre. I don't even want to think about how long I still have to wait before I can read the next book, but in the meantime I can't wait to start seeing more reviews of this.

Trigger and content warnings: mention of past drug addiction; gambling; mild torture; violence; crime; pedophilia.
Profile Image for Beth.
704 reviews572 followers
April 28, 2018

"Some say the City of Sin is a game, so before you arrive - ask yourself, dear reader, how much are you prepared to lose?"
- The City of Sin, a guidebook: Where To Go and Where Not To

MY GOD, this. This was goooooooooooooood! I am so happy, I've been waiting for this for the such a long time. I really enjoyed Amanda Foody and Daughter of the Burning City, so Ace of Shades was highly anticipated for me. I was so nervous going into this, because every time I desperately want to like something it's normally just okay, but this had me on edge in the best possible way.

The world building and detail was so beautifully done, it was picturesque and because of all of the little details you can picture it so clearly, it honestly felt as though I was transported into the book and could see so clearly how everything looked. I loved the feel/vibe of the settings and how everything seemed to resemble a card deck. Some things felt very modern and other elements resembled those in the early 19th century.

We got gangs; The Irons, The Doves and The Scarhands, rivalry, magical elements, and not only this... but split elements where they were able to control two different powers. Some were so unique and SO cleverly done, it was honestly enthralling and I wanted... no I needed more. The magic all relates back to the family you were born into, but not only this, we see how certain attributes are shown in their day to day lives. My main example is that Enne is looked down on as she is a Salta and her main talent i dancing.

Now as for the romance my god, I am dangling on edge. They want it, I want it. WE ALL WANT IT! It's such a slow burn, and even though this story is told over 10 days, the build up was so deliciously slow. It was just so endearing to see, the comfort that they both offered one another, finally becoming at ease with each other, opening up, becoming like a double team. Always having cookies lying around, ahhhhh! Will they won't they?! I NEED MY SHIP TO SAIL!


She was the girl who'd come afraid to the city that could smell your fear. She'd faced the witch. She'd poisoned the wolf. She'd strolled into the land of death with her head held high and left it a lord.

We have Enne, who back in her hometown is a nobody, no one seems to notice her and she doesn't do things to be noticed. She's at finishing school and is quite polite and on her arrival has a guidebook to tell her what she should and shouldn't do in New Reynes. In this new life she comes across at first to be quite timid but as the days progress we see her become such a strong character, we see her questioning herself and what she's known all her life may not be what it seems. At times we see her look down her nose, but as the story progresses we see a new light to her and because of her journey we see her stepping out of what she thinks she should do, to what she must. I was cheering her on and to see her finally relax a little and accept certain friendships I was shouting in happiness!

Then we have Levi my new book love. He is unashamedly bisexual, and if he wants to kiss boys he'll do it, and so what if he has an array of clothes at his disposal from both men and women that he's slept with, I was here for it. Levi is the head of The Irons and we see him in a tricky situation from the very start and working out a way to get out of the mess he has landed in. Even though Levi wants to live up to expectations, we also see a raw and human side of him. My heart just cannot take it. He cares so much about his gang, and hates what he has to do with his current situation, he notices things and sometimes takes things to heart which I mean... I melted at. Even though he is The Iron Lord we see his vulnerabilites and how he actually has feelings and is actually scared of certain events to come.

Finally we have Jac and Lola... please give me more! These two are both loyal to certain people, not only this, but they both have heartbreaking back stories. When we first meet Lola, I wasn't instantly amazed by her, I was like nope. Then everything changed and I was like, yep this girl. Please stay! Then we have Jac who is ridiculously loyal and HIS talent, my god when something happens and he offered... ahhhh I can't! Hopefully we may see POV from these two in future books.

What I liked?
- The magic system was just so interesting, literally in the first few chapters we see someone trapped on a street because they owe a debt!
- The lies and deceit, at times you don't know who to trust and what to expect
- Unbreakable oaths
- In relation to the gangs, we got to see what each of these bring to The City of Sin and what each person represents. It was interesting to see what mark they had. It wasn't just like here they are and you were expected to fear them, it went into some detail as to who they were and what they did. We got to see the leaders of them and see them work against or with each other in certain times
- I loved Reymond, he was just so protective and it was nice to see a father figure
- The guidebook
- The countdown of the days, and it telling us something new.
- Zulas talent
- The friendships! You can see friendships cementing and I honestly just need more.
- THAT ENDING, it cannot end there... I need answers, and I need to know what is happening!

What I didn't like?
- I wish we'd seen more of other characters. I think mainly Viance, she's quite powerful so it would of been interesting to see her more, not only this but other characters could of been used more to get more of a backstory in certain aspects of the book
- So something was unravelled... but HOW?!

Overall I adored this book! I don't even know when the next one is out... but it's a TRILOGY! I could cry happy tears. I have a new book love, I have new fictional friends that I want to be part of, I loved the story and I just need more!

2019... y u so far away?
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,012 reviews1,334 followers
May 16, 2018
A BR with Lily!

Sadly DNF @ page 150
I almost finished day 2 but I can't continue this book, let alone a whole trilogy!
I had one thought while reading this: that it sounded like it was written by an accountant. Guess what? It is! I came here to check the author, only to find out that she has an M.A degree in accountancy and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature.

You know that I like to support new and trending authors but the writing style just is not for me, if you are like me and read this because you heard it is like SoC then don't because they are nothing alike!

Also my friend Lola wrote in her review that this Sin City is Las Vegas and not something new and I couldn't agree more.

P.S: the author used the term "Cocky" in page 142, that is illegal, right?
(Faleena hopkins must be proud of me!)

Profile Image for julianna ➹.
207 reviews263 followers
December 31, 2020
1. Ace of Shades ★★★★★
2. King of Fools ★★★★★
3. Untitled

my immediate thoughts during and after finishing this book were, "how dare i not read this sooner" in case any of you were wondering

the only bad part of my experience reading this was seeing the right side get smaller and realizing that this would eventually end.

I had previously enjoyed the author's debut, Daughter of the Burning City but wow I did not realize that her later book would become one of my all-time favorites.

"...it smells foul."

"What? This city?" He inhaled deeply through his nose. "That's the smell of opportunity. And maybe a little piss."

Enne Salta is our fair-skinned girl from Bellamy, a place known for it's "10 years back" ways and traditional customs. She travels to New Reynes, nicknamed the "City of Sin," a place notorious for its gritty, harsh atmosphere.

There starts her quest for her mother, who had gone missing four months earlier, and she's joined by our other main character— Levi Glaysier. Both of them search together for Enne's mom and are only together because of opportunity: Levi is Enne's only lead to finding her mother and Enne could be the solution for Levi to pay back his debt.

"In the City of Sin, secrets are their own sort of currency and reputation holds more power than fortune."

—The City of Sin: Where To Go and Where Not To

The characters were a-mazing. Our main character Enne starts off as a girl misplaced in a Bellamy, a world of customs and politeness. However, as she travels to New Reynes, she becomes more comfortable in her own skin and more readily "vicious." Her perspective was so much fun to read from, while I did enjoy both perspectives!

Our other main character, Levi, is black and bi and amazing. Levi goes from a morally gray person who's 100% willing to rob Enne without a second thought but over the course of the story, he starts caring more and we love a morally gray character!!! Levi is a chaotic bi (I don't make the rules). I also loved how all of our queer characters are just casually diverse it's amazing!!

Our romance during the story was very, very slow-burn and I loved it? Levi and Enne just complemented each other so well and Levi was always so respectable and kind towards Enne, albeit jokingly condescending at times.

Her guidebook had been wrong about one thing: the most dangerous part of the City of Sin wasn't the beckoning of the card tables or the thread of the gangs. It was the allure of Levi Glaisyer's rogueish smile.

I loved this world so much. There's an atmosphere of scandalism and grittiness that's just so captivating that I finished the entire book in a sitting. In this world, every person also has two "gifts/talents" that they possess, one from each parent. For some, their parents both have the same talent, which means that they would have extraordinary skill with that gift. Levi's is fire & orb making, and Enne Abacus Salta means math & dancing. I thought that this magical system was done really well, and it wasn't that hard to catch on and understand how it worked.

In my opinion, the formatting of this book was also really wonderful? The book is split up into ten days— the ten days that Levi has to pay off his debt or be invited to a game that almost guarantees death. Each division also includes quotes about the City of Sin which really helped the dark mood of this book.

"No one wins the Shadow Game," Lola said.

"It's not like they'd want you to know, if someone did," Levi retorted. His voice was hoarse, almost giddy. "No game is impossible to win."

The conclusion was really wrapped up nicely in a way that left me satisfied, but still way too excited for the sequel. King of Fools is now definitely one of my most anticipated reads of 2019, right next to The Wicked King (or possibly even higher, I daresay?).

Trigger and content warnings for death, torture, and pedophilia.

Thank you so much to the HarperCollins for sending me a copy of this book to review!
Profile Image for joanna ☽ the little brown fairy.
117 reviews198 followers
April 14, 2018
Do not believe their smiles. Do not stray into their lairs. Or you may never come out again.

3.75 stars. if you just want to know if this book is like six of crows, click here.

This is one of those books which I got really, really excited for, even when it wasn't released yet. Normally, I don't let a book’s popularity affect my reading -- or if it does, it's in a positive way, like how I anticipated The Cruel Prince forever and, truthfully, probably loved it just a little more because of the hype.

this book has been insanely hyped, and why not? look how gorgeous the cover is; look at the intriguing blurb. the pitch promises "house of the rising sun meets Six of Crows". and i love six of crows to death.

i think this would have been way better if it wasn't so hyped, but i already discussed how this negatively affected my reading experience in my blog post so i won't be talking about that here. no, here, i'm going to totally ignore the comparison and rate it by its own merits, which is only fair.

before we get into the positives and negatives, let's take a quick peep at our main characters:

enne salta

She rooted around her pocket, pulling out a tube of lipstick, the gun and the silk mask. All the girlie necessities, apparently.

enne annoyed me right off the bat, but then i grew to love her more and more, since her character does develop a lot over the course of the book ― but more on that later. she starts off weak and simpering, but turns into basically a badass, even if the writing is a little dramatic about it sometimes. over the course of ten days, she went from hourly breakdowns to being "a pistol in the form of a girl".

enne as kermit:

levi glaisyer

i really love what this character represents. levi is a black bisexual boy (and not just oh-yeah-by-the-way-i'm-maybe-possibly-attracted-to-boys-sometimes, there's canon gayness on the page) and the iron lord of new reynes. he's very unapologetically soft and emotional, while also grappling with some morally difficult decisions and occasionally displaying violent behaviour.

levi as kermit:

these characters have some really strong points: enne is a girl, and she is allowed to want things, and allowed to be independent. levi is a boy, and he's allowed to feel things, and allowed to cry and display hurt.


the positives:

— ▸ the worldbuilding is really good in places. amanda foody has developed a lot of things that you don't see in other fantasy YA novels: a really ingenious currency and magic system, a world history, political groups, designer brands, even the names of streets.

— ▸ there was a lot of discussion of relevant topics. the male lead is black and bi (i already said), there's a sprinkle of feminism, and sexuality isn't degraded or shoved down at all.

"I am not scary," Enne grumbled. "I'm elegant. And charming."
"You can be all three," he ceded, and Enne decided that was satisfactory.

— ▸ the side characters were interesting. by the end of the book, i felt that i knew the four main characters -- enne, levi, jac and lola -- well enough. they're all given their own quirks and traits that help make them that little bit more realistic.

— ▸ the plot was pretty cool. while there are some aspects that are a little too predictable for my tastes, you always wanted to know what would happen next and where enne and her misfit friends would land into trouble next. there are a lot of pieces in motion, and it's very satisfying to watch them all come together over the course of the novel.

— ▸ the countdown layout of the book is really intriguing; it starts at day one and finishes on day ten.

— ▸ the writing was easy to read, and occasionally there was a really good phrase in there.

The City of Sin is painted white so that the filth can stain.

— ▸ the romance moved nice and slowly, and enne was never dependent on levi. he always respected her right to say no.

— ▸ the plot twist at the end was really great, and it was an epilogue that makes me really wish book 2 wasn't so far away.

the negatives :(

— ▸everything moves wayyyy too fast to be realistic. i don't mean the pacing -- that was actually quite slow, in places, and dragged a bit.
what i mean is that we're supposed to realistically believe that enne salta, a ballerina from finishing school, who cries at the merest hint of danger, transforms into a bloodthirsty, remorseless killer in nine and a half days. less, if you count all the time that she was asleep.
what i mean is that on her sixth/seventh day of being in the city, enne is told this:
"Now I think the city could be yours to claim."

— ▸ aside from enne, none of the other characters saw any good development. i'm not counting a crush. that's not character development.

— ▸ suspension of disbelief was hard to maintain throughout a lot of this. levi hardly seems capable of ruling the streets of new reynes, but we're just expected to go with it.

— ▸ i listed the worldbuilding as one of the positives, but unfortunately it's a double-edged sword. it was introduced with painful, awkward info-dumps, and we know very little of the world outside new reynes. the only two places i can remember are a) the place where enne is from, bellamy and b) the place where enne goes. i had to slow down, catch my breath and backtrack to even try and understand where the mizers/monarchists thing was going (and with all the emphasis put on it, i should have seen what was coming, honestly.)

welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Keeping Up with Levi Glaisyer. on today's episode, we're going to hear his thoughts on the girl he's known for six mucking days:
"And he would tell her that, even after losing everything he'd ever wanted, he still desperately wanted her.”

— ▸ oh yeah, i almost forgot. the maturity level of this book didn't know quite what to do with itself. all the swear words have been replaced with childish-sounding versions -- "mucking" or "shatz" -- but there's also talk of prostitutes, pedophilia, and lotsa sexual stuff.
"Don't. Mucking. Move."

this was supposed to be a fairly intense scene, but no longer, because i couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculous fake-swears.

— ▸ the climax wasn’t as great as it could have been. there's no other way to put it. the buildup was actually really good, and i was thrilled to see where we went next -- and the big moment was essentially a bunch of people, sitting around a table... playing cards.

— ▸ a couple of the character's choices frustrated me.
picture this: you're a YA main character, and you're in grave danger. you're searching desperately for a weapon, but can't find one. however, there is a pretty dress in the corner. should you play dress up?

guess what enne did?



overall, i didn't mean for this review to end on such a negative note, because i genuinely did enjoy this book and i'm excited for what's coming next. it's definitely not without its flaws, though, and i'm intrigued to see how amanda foody carries on this series.

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Profile Image for Rae.
205 reviews144 followers
September 1, 2020
Quick reread to prep for blog tour for Queen of Volts! Happy publication day for QOV!
I'll have a blog post up for this series later this month! :)

BR with my twin Scrill
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,165 reviews1,524 followers
April 8, 2018
Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody is the first book of the young adult fantasy The Shadow Game series. I saw a lot of comparisons to Six of Crows before I began to read this one and my first hope was that it wouldn’t have that same slow pace as Six of Crows but of course, yes, it did. They are rather similar in having that slow build, darker young adult tale.

The book begins as Enne Salta arrives in New Reynes or what is better known as the City of Sin. Enne’s adoptive mother had often visited New Reynes claiming to be seeing friends and with Enne busy with school she never questioned until now. Enne had been told if her mother didn’t return in two months something would be wrong and if she needed help to contact Levi Glaisyer.

When Enne tracks down Levi she doesn’t understand how her mother could direct her to this street lord and con man. But with Levi being her only connection in New Reynes to her mother she has no choice but try to convince him to help her find her mother. With Levi owing a great debt of his own he sees Enne as a means of making what he owes and goes along with her quest even though he’s sure her mother is already dead.

Now of course I’ve already said the slow pace within this series is one that I struggle with quite often. I knew there’s a story buried within the pages but it’s just tough holding my attention with any slow build novel. The story was what I expected though as I went along, think Las Vegas but darker (or at least darker than advertised to tourists) and give it a magical side and we have Ace of Shades.

This wasn’t bad by any means but it also didn’t shock or wow me just yet either. I would have also like a bit more depth given to things as it went along which with the length and pace I was surprised to find it lacking on occasion. So while I see some absolutely loving this one for me it was just an alright start to the series with of course a bit of a cliffhanger to lead readers into the second book.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via Edelweiss.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Veronica ⭐️.
974 reviews198 followers
July 11, 2018
The Burgeoning Bookshelf
Once I got past all the politics at the start of the book I really enjoyed it. At first I was thinking New Reynes was some dystopian town with casinos, gang lords, corrupt officials and an overzealous policing system then I realised it was much like any major city today only with a slight magical element, an urban fantasy.
”Some say the City of Sin is a game, so before you arrive – ask yourself, dear reader, how much are you prepared to lose?” – The City of Sin, a Guidebook.

Enne, naive and protected, arrives in New Reynes (The City of Sin) with nothing but her mother’s rules for life and a guide book to The City of Sin. She is there to find her mother who has been missing for some months.

Levi, lord of the Iron gang, is a gang leader with a charismatic air and a liking for both males and females. He is the best dealer in town and an expert conman. He is in way over his head with his latest scam and must pay back a dangerous casino boss or be drawn into The Shadow Game and his certain death. Levi’s charisma shines through on the page.
The world building was expertly executed overpowering the two plot lines slightly in that I was much more invested in the town politics and the gang hierarchy than whether Enne actually found her mother or not. However I think the author’s aim was to have the reader invested in her characters and invested I was. Enne and Levi were strong and determined. They both had high morals that were expressed throughout the story.
Foody’s choice of made-up curse words has been scorned and ridiculed by some reviewers but I thought it was a good move to keep the age appropriate level down. I know other Fantasy authors, in the past, have used their own forms of cussing for characters.
Foody has touched on some delicate societal issues, skimming the surface of drug use, drink spiking, paedophilia and gambling, leaving plenty of room for discussion.
There is some sexual tension as Enne and Levi fight their attraction. But Levi, ever the gentleman, takes Enne’s lead and gives her space and time.
”Her guidebook had been wrong about one thing: the most dangerous part of the City of Sin wasn’t the beckoning of the card tables or the threat of gangs. It was the allure of Levi Glaisyer’s roguish smile.”
There are characters to root for and characters to hate and it looks like Vianca, Donna of the Augustines and casino owner, may be in for some trouble in the next book, if the epilogue is anything to go by.

I’m eager to get my hands on book 2.
Recommended for ages 12+

This review is part of the Beauty & Lace bookclub
See original bookclub review Here
Profile Image for Cinda.
Author 54 books11.1k followers
December 19, 2017
Thieves, rogues, and shady characters have always fascinated me, and so I enjoyed my dive into the morally ambiguous world of New Reynes. House of the Rising Sun meets Six of Crows.
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