- Series: The Shadow Game Series (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Harlequin Teen; Original edition (April 10, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781335692290
- ISBN-13: 978-1335692290
- ASIN: 1335692290
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 108 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game Series) Hardcover – April 10, 2018
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—"If I'm not home in two months, I'm dead." Enne's adoptive mother Lourdes had told her. Four months later, Enne has left her finishing school to sail for New Reynes: the "City of Sin" and her mother's last-known destination. New Reynes is the domain of street lords, gamblers, and con artists. With effort, Enne locates a young street lord named Levi whom Lourdes once helped. Levi doubts that Enne, raised as a proper young lady, will be able to handle life in New Reynes long enough to discover her mother's fate. Enne secures Levi's help with a promise of money, however, and Enne is more resilient than she first appears. Yet she becomes entangled in the corrupt dealings of her new employer, a Mafia donna, and Enne must fulfill her new obligations while desperately searching for Lourdes. The political situation is also complicated in this alternate world, where each person by default has two "talents," one from each parent. The world in this promising series debut is dark but enticing. Readers who have little interest in casinos may initially be hesitant to pick this one up, but will be quickly drawn in by the intrigue if they do. The plot twists pleasingly, and character development is well crafted. Enne's growth is apparent and complements Levi's emerging realization that he cannot do everything alone. VERDICT Recommend to teens interested in but not quite ready for Game of Thrones. A solid purchase for medium and large libraries.—Sara White, Seminole County Public Library, Casselberry, FL
"The relationship between Enne and Levi simmers, and dangers pile up to an exciting climax. Readers will eagerly wish for a sequel that will allow them to revisit New Reynes." -Kirkus Reviews
"'House of the Rising Sun' meets Six of Crows in Ace of Shades. Thieves, rogues, and shady characters have always fascinated me, and so I enjoyed my dive into the morally ambiguous world of New Reynes." -New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima
"Ace of Shades has it all?incredible worldbuilding, cinematic set-pieces, heart-pounding pacing, and unpredictable, deliciously messy characters. Foody's impressive and ambitious vision for the City of Sin will linger in my senses for a long time. An utter delight." -Claire Legrand, author of Winterspell
"Foody's novel is a magical tale of introspection, romance, and self-determination." ?Publishers Weekly
"The world in this promising series debut is dark but enticing. Readers who have little interest in casinos may initially be hesitant to pick this one up, but will be quickly drawn in by the intrigue if they do. The plot twists pleasingly, and character development is well crafted... Recommend to teens interested in but not quite ready for Game of Thrones." -School Library Journal
"Foody creates a richly populated world with rival gangs, ruthless Mafia, casinos, acrobats, and many different levels of society... Its cinematic, action-packed plot contains enough romance to satisfy readers of that genre while piling on danger, thrills, and plot twists." -Booklist
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But aside from the setting and the worldbuilding (the Shadow Game! Volts as currency! street gangs!) what made this book absolutely unputdownable was the characters. Enne is one of my favorite YA protagonists EVER, and Levi -- LEVI!!! I love him so much but I also want to smack him some of the time. This is a book where the villains are truly villainous, but the heroes aren't exactly faultless...it is the City of Sin, after all.
There are a lot of people saying that Levi, one of the MCs from this book is trying too hard to be Kaz from SOC. Now, I consider myself a SOC super fan. As I type, I can see the NMNF tattoo on my forearm, and my cat Kaz is grooming himself on my bed. So when I say that Levi is not like Kaz, I know what I’m talking about here. Lets break this comparison down:
-Is the leader of a gang
-Has a band of extremely loyal followers, the Dregs
-Likes women (exclusively to our knowledge)
-Doesn’t like to be touched
-Is relatively quiet, contemplative. Doesn’t speak unless he has something to say
-Has no magical ability
-Always wears gloves
-Is the leader of a gang
-Has a band of sort of loyal, but not really that loyal followers, the Irons
-Very much likes to be touched
-Is sarcastic and kind of brash, says what he wants when he wants, and is usually trying to annoy someone or bait them
-Has magical abilities
-Does not always wear gloves
Now that I’ve said what I needed to say on this matter, let’s discuss the book Ace of Shades. First off, the world building was fantastic. It was so creative and well done – kind of a dystopian version of Vegas, but with magic and Lords. I absolutely loved it. Foody even went so far as to create signature cocktails. There was a certain drink you ordered if you needed good luck at the tables, a different drink if you were on a winning streak, etc. Additionally, the way that she built the magic in it was pretty fun. Your magic was passed down from your parents. Your first name was your own, but the other two names indicated your magical abilities. It was a really clever way to set things up and I can’t wait to see where Foody takes it in the next book.
The main character, Enne, is someone that quite a few people found annoying at the start of the book. I’m not sure why, but I understood why she was the way she was. Imagine taking the most prissy girl you know, and sticking her in the middle of a debauched gambling city. She’d probably act exactly the way you’d expect her to. Unlike the most prissy girl I know, however, Enne quickly toughened up, doing what she needed to in order to reach her goal.
Levi was charming and fun while also managing to be a deeper character than I expected. I thought he would be kind of a player, the character to offer comedic relief. While he did offer that a number of times, his motivations were deeper and he turned out to be a well developed character in my opinion.
The only thing that irked me in Ace of Shades was the romance. Levi and Enne just kept coming up with the dumbest reasons not to kiss. Their inner monologues went something like this “If he leaned his forehead against mine, I knew I’d kiss him.”…ummmm just kiss the dude! If I were in a life threatening situation, and the person I cared about was standing in front of me? I would be on that boy like white on rice. It was just frustrating and something I hope is remedied in book two.
My Takeaway: Ace of Shades was fantastic – the world building was fun and entrancing, the main characters were well developed, and though their romance was flawed, I can wait to see what they do next. (Holy run on sentence Batman)
Welcome to New Reynes, the City of Sin where gangs rule the streets and Casino Families rule everything else. Enne Salta's adoptive mother has failed to return home from a trip to New Reynes, but managed to send a letter home with a name -- Levi Glaisyer -- so she heads to the City for her summer break to find Lourdes. This city isn't for the faint of heart, and Enne has to learn to navigate a place of games and secrets -- but will she be able to survive?
This book has a strong start that sucked me in right away and kept me entranced until the last page with excellent pacing and characters with such depth that I felt like I knew them personally. Foody masterfully shares details of the world slowly and succinctly so that it never feels like an info dump and the world itself is described so well that I feel like I could walk the streets myself.
The book is told in the alternating perspectives of Enne Salta and Levi Glaisyer, characters that are as different as night and day but thrust together due because Lourdes wrote his name on a letter.
--> Enne has been thrust into a world and situation that she wasn't meant for in the search to find her mother. 17 years old, dancer from finishing school looking forward to her debut in society. She has a serious sweet tooth and I love her grit and determination to find her mother as a stranger in a strange land.
--> Levi has been hardened by his years, a master of cards and the head of the Irons. He is almost 18 and has aspirations to make something of himself. Levi is black and bisexual and I adore his compassion.
There is also a cast of secondary characters just as rich, loveable, and flawed. Jac is Levi's best friend and absolutely a gem, and Lola is the reluctant addition to the trio. I really look forward to seeing more of their backstory in King of Fools.
The magic system in this world is hereditary, and each person has a main talent and a split talent. The main talent is denoted by a person's surname and is an easy way to assess a person's position in society.
Foody created a new fantasy world with a rich and deep history/mythology, and I will admit that at times it was a bit difficult to keep everything straight even though the worldbuilding is done slowly and builds upon nuggets of knowledge introduced earlier.
I absolutely loved Ace of Shades - it is full of a characteristic that I lived for in fantasy: a vivid world, a complex political history, complex characters. It is a fast-paced story that has everything I love in fantasy executed well... just be sure to take notes so that you can keep everything straight as the worldbuilding is vast! This is a fantastic start to what I am sure will be an amazing trilogy, and I cannot wait to continue the series!