“In the City of Sin, secrets are their own sort of currency, and reputation holds more power than fortune.”
Ace of Shades was my first dive into Amanda Foody’s work. After hearing amazing things about her first novel, Daughter of the Burning City, I had high expectations for this alternative Las Vegas, Six of Crows-esque adventure. It was a rocky road that led to an ultimately satisfying ending.
I haven’t read Six of Crows (sad, I know), so I can’t speak to the comparison, but for me, Ace of Shades felt a little less gritty than I wanted it to be. Think more PG-13 than R. I wanted the corruption and violence and cons (oh my) to be darker and downright gruesome. I was sold on a book that promised all those things, but it barely scratched the surface.
It took quite a lengthy amount of time for me to really get invested in the story. After about 100 pages, Ashley and I had conversations about whether we could even finish it at all. Thankfully, around midway through, the plot picked up, and I found myself more interested. One thing Amanda Foody does well is creating an atmospheric setting. I really enjoyed the world that Enne and Levi lived in, and Foody’s descriptions made me feel like I was there with them in the grimy city. I was not a fan, however, of the random curse words that were created for this world. I mean, “muck” and “shatz” just sound childish, and every time I came across these words (which was often), it took me out of the story a bit. Also, it got very info-dumpy at the beginning. There were times when I had to pause while reading and try to fully understand everything that had been just kind of thrown at the reader all at once. It was a little unnerving and slightly boring, so I honestly skimmed a couple paragraphs.
The characters themselves were done well enough. I really disliked Enne at the beginning of the story – she was pompous, entitled, and snobbish while basically forcing herself into the lives of random conmen she trusts so easily. She became more likable toward the end when she really came into her own, so I’m interested to see where her character will go in the sequel. Levi was adorable, but he wasn’t entirely believable as the Iron Lord – mostly because he was so young, but also because he never truly acted like one. He was slightly selfish and lacked the real confidence for me to believe he could be this renowned leader. I feel like we didn’t get to see enough of his skills – card playing and magic both – and I think if we had, I would’ve understood why everyone knew his name. I did enjoy seeing his softer side, it was nice to see a male lead show emotions. It didn’t hurt that there was also some POC and bisexual rep with his character too!
If you like slow burn romances, you’ll love this one. The constant “I’m attracted to you, but I shouldn’t be, so I won’t act on it” got a little frustrating after a while, but I’m excited to see where it’ll go in the next book. This story left off just when I was really getting into it, so I’m sad I have to wait to get more. The one thing I did enjoy the most though was the unique magic/trait system. It was interesting to see what traits were passed on from their parents and which ones were considered higher class than others. It wasn’t something I’ve read before, so it definitely stood out to me. All in all, Ace of Shades wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be, but I enjoyed it enough to definitely pick up book two.
Will you pick up Ace of Shades? Let us know in the comments below!