This is one of the first books I ever pre-ordered – that’s how excited I was for it! Street gangs, card games, rogues galore? Sign me up. And it did not disappoint one jot!
Book: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
Read before: No
Ownership: Hard copy, owned
One thing you will quickly learn if you stick around on this blog is that I adore gentleman rogues (gentlemen rogue?). Give me a smooth-talking and cocky young crime lord and I will love him fiercely and more than I probably should. Locke Lamora, Robin Hood, Kelsier from Mistborn, George Cooper, Flynn Rider, Zevran from Dragon Age, even Mickey from Hustle…
So. Meet Levi Glaisyer.
He’s the leader of a street gang in New Reynes, which is like Las Vegas but ambiguously a bit more magic (though still having trains and cars). He’s bisexual, openly and casually. He’s kinder than his cons would make him seem, and he’s got a way with words that gets him into and out of trouble like getting into and out of bed. I love him.
Levi is not the only thing I love about this book, though! Enne, our female protagonist, has a wonderful progression from prudish young woman to badass magical criminal. I love her too. I’ve seen people say she made stupid decisions, or was annoying, but I found her very believable, especially when she was feeling lost. Basically the only thing that annoyed me about her was that took until the book spelled it out for me to realise that her name is just pronounced ‘N’, like the letter – I had assumed it was ‘Enn-ay’ and had to kick myself every time after that. And well done Amanda Foody for writing about the empowering nature of dark lipstick. That, and Enne’s change in the way she dressed, felt very real.
There’s a small amount of romance in Ace of Shades, but it’s beautifully slow-burning, with lots of worries on both sides, as well as a healthy amount of thinking ‘now is not the time to deal with this’, which is something I always like to see. In the middle of a massive chase is not the time to be thinking how handsome your friend is, and everyone here seems to agree with me…
I absolutely loved the settings – it’s very easy to picture the dirty city, with its smog and its crowds and its low-budget cabarets, but then when you seamlessly move into one of the higher-end casinos, it’s just as easy. The author sketches scenes simply and beautifully. I wish we’d seen even more of the talents/magic, because there is a fascinating hereditary system that is really original. There are too many twists and turns for me to go into basically anything about the plot without spoiling something, but it’s a rollercoaster ride that never lets up. For a masterclass in atmosphere alone, Ace of Shades should be on your TBR list!
I only wish I didn’t have to wait so long for the sequel – this is going to be an insta-buy series.
Five out of five cats, of course.