Published: April 10th 2018 by Harlequin Teen
Average Goodreads rating: 4.31
Literary Weaponry rating: 3/5
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, her only lead is a 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. (Goodreads)
I was provided this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
When this book was first announced in 2017 I was over the moon excited. I had read Foody’s debut, Daughter of the Burning City, and had fallen in love and was very much looking forward to getting my hands on more of Foody’s work. So many of the early reviews were absolutely beaming about Ace of Shades and I wanted in on the action. When my eARC request finally came through, I dove right on in.
In Ace of Shades we really follow two main characters, Enne and Levi. Enne finds herself in the City of Sin looking for her adoptive mother, Lourdes, who has gone missing and was last known to be there in New Reynes. When she arrives she is a wholesome, naive youth with very proper etiquette. She quickly finds herself embroiled with the street lord Levi and his gang. Levi, with the promise of a massive payment from Enne, agrees to help her find Lourdes.
For 3/4 of this book I absolutely could not stand Enne. She was naive and childish and had all the personality of a wet fish. Also, miraculously, everything seems to go her way. Isn’t that nice? How annoying. When you are a silly little thing meandering around in a place called the City of Sin you should get into a lot more trouble than this precious flower did. However, I will say that in the last quarter of the book her character really bloomed. Enne leaves her childish ways behind and becomes someone fascinating.
Levi, on the other hand, is dull from start to finish. He has found himself owing a great deal of money to a powerful man and that is his only focus. That’s cool, I can understand that being your obsessive when you life is on the line. But, lo and behold, a pretty face comes along and he becomes smitten. He is still concerned about the money but he is more worried about wilting that precious flower and protecting her and it really ground my gears. Levi had nothing going for him.
Plot (some spoilers)
The plot is actually pretty interesting. If you read the blurb at the top, you’d know that the story takes place in a seedy city known for gambling and gang violence. In my head I automatically pictured a run down version of Vegas. Enne goes to this city looking for her mother who went missing there. She gets caught up in some of the gang violence, indentured to a essentially a mob boss, nearly murdered on multiple occasions, and ends up finding very little information about Lourdes all the while being taken advantage of by the city.
While the plot is interesting, Enne’s reactions to what happens to her is what turns it a little on the dull side. She cries, goes and finds help, and makes a general mess of things. In a nutshell, the general plot was interesting but the characters moving through that plot needed some zing.
This book was interesting and had fairly unique subject matter. There is a whole magic system etc which felt fresh, not recycled, and that is always nice. The other thing I want to mention is the ending. This is the first book in a trilogy, I believe, but everything felt rather wrapped up there at the end. I wasn’t left with the nagging feeling of wanting to know more of what could happen because the main plot line had been more or less resolved. I just didn’t care what more happened.
It was just so structured, as if nothing spontaneous could possibly happen. That made the story as rigid as a nun in a catholic school. If the characters had been anywhere in the realm of likable this would have been a very good book. As it is, I feel like I can’t give it more than a 3/5.