Last year, I read Amanda Foody’s debut, DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY, and it was fabulous. Carnival/circus/traveling show-type books seem to be a popular setting in YA books nowadays and I found DOTBC incredibly fresh and original.
So, obviously, I’ve been coveting Foody’s sophomore novel (and first in a new series!), ACE OF SHADES. I was very fortunate to receive a surprise ARC *throws confetti at Harlequin TEEN* and I really, REALLY enjoyed this.
The 411: Enne Salta is a member of the elite dancing family (The Saltas)–who enters New Reynes aka The City of Sin after her mother, Lourdes, goes missing. New Reynes is riddled with crime and populated by three rival gangs, the Irons, the Scarhands, and the Doves, as well as two main mafia fams, the Augustines and the Torrens. And as you can probably surmise, there isn’t a lot of agreement between all of these different parties.
Acting upon a tip from Lourdes, Enne searches out Iron Lord, Levi Glaisyer, who she is told can help her reunite with Lourdes. Levi, however, enormously in debt, gets caught up in an executive-style game with the infamous Phoenix Club. Time is running out for both Enne and Levi, and they must work together to get what they want.
As I mentioned above, I had so much fun with this. Amandy Foody is excellent at world building. Both the descriptions of the Gomorrah Festival in DOTBC and New Reynes in ACE OF SHADES are incredibly atmospheric and well-written. You feel the grittiness of New Reynes in your bones. Because this world is so dense, I recommend creating a character map. I’ve been doing this for a while and it definitely helps keep track of characters, their relationships to each other and how they relate to the world as a whole. These are also great to refresh your memory before starting a sequel.
Ok, so from a diversity standpoint: lots of win here. Levi is African-American and very open about his bisexuality. We can also surmise that Lourdes is genderfluid, or does not identify as any gender. And there is tons more diversity in the side-characters. The best part? Foody doesn’t call excessive attention to these labels. These characters simply are who they are, unapologetically, and it’s wonderful to see.
I’ve also seen some dissenting opinions about Enne, but I personally really liked her. She goes through a bit of an identity crisis after learning some hard truths about her family history, and although she starts out as a strong woman from the get-go, continues to grow even more as the story progresses.
Jac is also a delight. I heart him very much.
There’s also the promise of a romance and lots of pining (which I actually LOVE), but the love story is definitely not the primary focus of this book. It’s very much an adventure, caper-type book. And, um, that ending. Rude, Ms. Foody, just rude. I’m going to need Book 2 ASAP.
MY RATING: ✰✰✰✰
RECOMMENDED FOR: SIX OF CROWS fans
MAY I ALSO SUGGEST: anything by Leigh Bardugo and Marie Lu
Thank you Harlequin TEEN for my galley! Ace of Shades is available April 10.
[I’m also 95 percent positive this book is April’s OwlCrate pick as well. I can’t wait to see how they do this box.]