Saturday, 10 February 2018

Ace of Shades // a rich and complex fantasy world that I am obsessed with

This was PHENOMENAL. It has been a week since I put down Ace of Shades, and I still haven't stopped screaming over it. Never has the first book in a series caused me to experience such a roller coaster of emotions, and you can guarantee that it is my new biggest obsession. It's a book that has it all: a gorgeous and fantastical world, characters that you'll fall head-over-heels for, and a thrilling plot that clings to you from the first page to the last. 

Foody's novel is set in the magnificent world of New Reynes, a city filled with gambling, casinos, and sin. It's a place that a lady like Enne Salta would never dare to go. But when her mother never returns from her visit to the City of Sin, Enne travels overseas only to get caught up in the intricate plots of the city's various gangs and crime families, and the world of a young street lord.

The plot was fast paced and thrilling. You get thrown into the seductive glamour of New Raynes immediately along with Enne, and are introduced to a world that feels at once Dickensian and magical.

There is so much happening with the world building, from the grand depictions of the casinos to the intricate details of the monetary system and even the clothing brands. Foody doesn't miss a thing in her depiction of New Reynes, and creates both a history and a present moment of the novel that is rich, dark, and complex. Even the magic system contains multiple layers and is unique to anything I've read before, and the gangs and crime families all have their own histories. But despite all of this, the plot is still very easy to follow. The development of the magic, history, and setting is brilliantly built into the story itself without ever pulling you out of the narrative, which was something I absolutely adored because it allowed me to savour every second of the reading experience.

It's difficult to pick what I love most about this book, but it might have to be the characters. You start off with particular assumptions about the characters and slowly discover there is so much more to them. Enne is an aspiring lady that seems to be completely out of place in New Reynes. But as her story progresses the city does not corrupt her, but reveals her inner corruption. She is a lovable character who likes cookies and cares deeply for her mother and wants to enter high society, but she also has a darkness within her that is fascinating to see explored. I can only hope more of it is revealed as the series continues.

Then there is Levi. He's a street lord and a con man and a genius when it comes to cards. You can draw a lot of parallels between him and Kaz from Six of Crows (the two books have a lot of similar tones), but there is something that makes him completely different. Levi is very in touch with his feelings. He's over-confident and a flirt and wants to be king, but he cares so much about his gang. He blames himself for the suffering of others, and when he loves someone, he does it so deeply it pains him. His life may be filled with corruption, but deep down he is the purest soul and it's impossible not to fall a little bit in love with him.

The alternating third-person POV between Enne and Levi was perfection. It worked really well for the plot and allowed me to get an in-depth understanding of the characters, whilst also holding back several mysteries about them that I am desperate to uncover. Plus it helped build up a romance that I was passionately rooting for.

There are so many layers that make Ace of Shades the extraordinary story that it is. I enjoyed Amanda Foody's debut, but this was something else. I can say without hesitation that I am infatuated with every aspect of this book, and I cannot wait to escape into this world all over again.

An ebook copy of this book was provided to me via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


 YA Fantasy

Book 1 of 3 in The Shadow Game Trilogy 

Levi is black and bisexual 

Knives, guns, blood, violence, gore, death, torture, implied paedophilia, implied rape, past drug addiction


  1. I've been seeing a lot of stuff about this one but I didn't really know what it was about -- so thanks so much! I definitely want to try it now; I am very excited to discover a new and rich magical world. (The cover is also lovely, it reminds me a bit of A Darker Shade of Magic.)

    1. No problem! The world has so much to it and it's really fun to explore. And I totally see the similarities to the cover of A Darker Shade of Magic - I feel like the books themselves have a lot in common but I can't place what it is exactly that makes them feel connected. Maybe it's because I love both books so much!

  2. Wow, I love the sound of this! I like the idea of it being magical and Dickensian, and I loved Six of Crows, so any similarities can only be a plus for me! :)
    This is definitely going on my TBR list. Great review! :)

    1. It's awesome! I don't know why I felt like it was kind of Dickensian. I don't know what the author was going for but the scenes at the beginning with the kids in a street gang running down alleyways gave me major Oliver Twist vibes, so that tone was kind of in the back of my mind throughout. But it's a perfect combination! There's lots of similarities to Six of Crows, so I hope you enjoy it just as much! Thanks Laura! :D

  3. Awesome review! I've been eyeing this, and I'm glad that you can't stop gushing about the story or the characters :D I think I haven't been too excited about this is because it's set in like..a casino or gambling place, and that's not really my thing? Or at least I told myself that. I'll have to check this out at the library at some point regardless hahaha.

    1. Thank you! I love it a lot haha :') There are a lot of scenes set in casinos etc but also a lot on the streets of the city as well and just generally a lot of moving about - it felt kind of similar to Six of Crows in that way. I hope you enjoy it!