My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody is a highly enjoyable fantasy set in the City of Sin. New Reynes is essentially the most corrupt, debauched version of a city full of gambling dens, houses of pleasure and mob bosses – even the good side of town isn’t very clean.
Enne enters the novel and the city as the typical prudish, good girl who is shocked by everything that happens in the city. I appreciated her drive and dedication as a character but overall didn’t form a strong connection to her. She experiences a little character development, but I didn’t feel much about her until the end of the book when she is really coming to terms with everything that she has learned in the last few weeks.
Levi fills the role of the typical bad boy with a hidden layer of depth that makes him not so bad. I enjoyed him the most in the book, although much like the other characters in the book I found it difficult to believe that he was the leader of a gang. Maybe I just needed more development there and to see more interactions between him and his crew, but I never felt that sense of authority and power from him. Despite that, I really enjoyed his character. I loved that he was confident in who he was and added a bit of refreshingly normal diversity to the cast.
The author’s writing is very vivid, but I feel that the world building is more telling than showing. The premise itself is incredibly intriguing, although I didn’t connect as deeply with it as I wanted to. The magic system had such potential, but it lacked the depth and development that I was hoping for. Overall, the history of the world came across as an info-dump rather than an organic weaving throughout the narrative.
In Ace of Shades, everyone is born with two abilities. The first they get from their mother and the second from their father. Those abilities are not strictly magic, as they are more of a skill than a power. For example, Enne is a Salta on her father’s side which means that she is a dancer. Although the Salta’s are a lower tier of dancer than some other families, which adds an interesting dynamic to the story.
I wanted to know so much more about the abilities that people could have and how certain ones react to others. For example, Levi’s two abilities cannot harmonize well but we never really understand why. As much as I loved the unique premise, it was that lack of depth that made me wish for more.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story and the lack of depth did not affect my opinion at the end of it all. It just could have been a fantastic book had that been there and may have received a significantly higher rating. I highly recommend this read and cannot wait to see where the author takes us in the rest of the series.