Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody | Like an Urban Caraval in The Best Way

I have no words. Like, I’ve been staring at my screen for five minutes just regretting writing my review before writing an intro because now I’m almost ready to publish this except I’m speechless and what do I say?! I love Ace of Shades so incredibly much. It’s like my no. 1 favourite book at the moment and I’m obsessed with this city, the character and the entire vibe of this book. It’s been a really long time since I’ve felt so invested in a book. It’s also been a long time since I’ve put so much effort into a review. I just wanted to do this book justice, and I hope I managed to do just that! It’s a bit long, but I hope you’ll enjoy it anyway.

“Sometimes we’re not who we want to be because we’re supposed to be something else.”

My Review

Say hello to my new favourite book! I’m seriously obsessed with Ace of Shades. I have to admit, I wasn’t interested at all until like a month before its release when I needed a new/different book for Waiting on Wednesday and came across it again. I read the synopsis, found Amanda’s playlist and Pinterest board and it instantly became one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I even got to be part of the blog tour! Anyway, A big city, casinos and a vicious execution game? Yes, please! I was expecting big things and it totally delivered. The city of New Reynes is like one giant mysterious game, and it felt a little bit like an urban version of Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I mean that in the very best way possible; I LOVE books like that. Also, some parts of Ace of Shades gave me The Greatest Showman vibes, and since I’m obsessed with that movie, that made it all the better. It was THE BEST.

Enne is such a lovely, feminine character. The contrast between her and new Reynes – the City of Sin – is absolutely incredible. The first thing she does when she gets to the city is getting herself in trouble, which – in a weird way – I could relate to? Hehe! She sticks to her guidebook as if her life depends on it it probably does, though… and it was so much fun to read from her perspective! Her development is one into darkness. She’s really joining the dark side! It also proves that “no one leaves the city uncorrupted” isn’t just some line to draw you into the story. We often see “dark/evil” characters get better or nicer, so this was such a nice, surprising change. Also, it’s funny, because I’m not an artsy person, but if I were a painter or anything, I’d probably paint a big, dark skyline with a small, colourful girl looking up to it. It’s just what I “see” when I picture her! What I love most is probably that she stuck to her roots. No matter what she went through or what happened to her, she never lost that feminine touch.

Levi is an actual cinnamon roll. I love him, so, so much. And I definitely ship him with Enne because O. T. Freaking. P?! I feel like him and Enne are opposites in many ways (even some very mysterious ways I’d love to know more about!?) but that’s why they’re so wonderful together. Anyway, he might be a street lord and a con man, but he’s so much more than that! He’s so caring and sweet and he definitely doesn’t deserve all the crap in his life. He just tries to help people and be good and it’s heartbreaking to think of how badly things went for him sometimes. Levi grew on me so quickly. I just loved him from the moment he entered the story and then he just continued to surprise me. I’m so glad we got to read from his perspective.

It took me a while to really connect to the side characters. Jac was in quite a big part of the story, but I didn’t care about him much until the end. I really don’t know why that is and I kind of already want to reread the book to see if I like him better next time around! I didn’t understand Chez’s part at all, though. He’s supposed to be Levi’s third in command or something, but I feel like he only shows up for his big moment and then he’s just… gone again? Maybe that’s just because I didn’t care about him, though. I absolutely despised Vianca, but I guess I just loved to hate her? She’s SO wicked! She’s the worst in the best kind of way. Finally, there’s Lola. I didn’t really know what to think of her for a long time, but she’s really grown on me since I finished the book and got to think about it. Even though I didn’t like/love all these characters, they didn’t make me like the book any less. If anything, I just want to read it again because I feel like I’ll pay more attention to them. And, oh my goodness! I nearly forgot this. RAYMOND! But we don’t talk about him over here because, well… it broke my damned heart.

New Reynes is such an incredible city. The worldbuilding in Ace of Shades was so incredibly well done. But it probably also helped that I listened to Amanda’s playlist while I read it and I just loved the vibe of her Pinterest board so much that it stuck. The city has such a dark, grimy and mysterious vibe to it. And since everything is like a game, it really reminded me of Caraval. Both worlds are equally amazing, but I guess I love Ace of Shades‘ more because I love cities so much. Enne’s guidebook and Levi’s knowledge of New Reynes really added to the book. Enne might have had the “facts” but Levi knew stuff from experience and it was so interesting to see the difference between the two! The setting is just absolutely perfect and fits the story so incredibly well.

I’ve said so much already and we haven’t even gotten to the plot yet… Whoops! Can you see how much effort I put into making this review worthy of the book? Lol… Anyway, the plot kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Enne getting to the city, meeting Levi, trying to find her mother… It’s epic but it’s also so much more than that! There was so much mystery, and it often felt like one big quest to find identity for both Enne and Levi. Who are they as individuals? Who are they together? Who are they after all that they discover? It all leads up to one epic finale and it was just so good! The Shadow Game was by far the best part of the plot. It was so intense and scary and holy plot-twist, Batman! Like everything else in this book, it was perfect. That seems to be the only word I know to describe this book. Sorry?!

My Rating

I think this might be one of my longest reviews ever. I just had to do this book justice! The characters in Ace of Shades are wonderful. The setting is absolutely perfect and the plot kept me on my toes the entire time! It’s definitely one of my new favourite books, I can’t wait for the sequel!

About Ace of Shades

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 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.

Harlequin Teen | Goodreads | Book Depository*

Amanda Foody announced on Twitter yesterday that the sequel is titled King of Fools, doesn’t that sound epic?! Ahhh, I just can’t wait already! Also, I defintely recommend following her for all this Shadow Game trilogy! She creates epic playlist and gorgeous Pinterest boards and she’s such a lovely person!

Have you read Ace of Shades? Or will be you reading it in the future?

* This post contains affiliate links. More info in my Affiliate Disclaimer.


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