I have been meaning to pick up Ace of Shades in forever and with the upcoming release of King of Fools, I knew now was the time.
Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…
And she’ll need to play.
TW: Pedophilia, addiction
Ace of Shades is completely absorbing. It’s the type of book that will enthrall you and capture your soul – much like the City of Sin. The writing in Ace of Shades is so utterly quotable. It’s not just a testament to some truly captivating writing, but also that the City of Sin and its characters draw you in. And words that are just words in other people’s mouth, become foreshadows, promises, and secrets.
Open this book at your own risk. The story of Ace of Shades is high paced, like being pulled by a high speed train approaching a blind corner. You’re never really sure where the train will take you – to ruin or redemption. Not to mention that the characters of Levi and Enne will charm you.
This dual perspective technique allows you to get a better sense of Levi’s demons – his fears, the pressure, and his doubts. He’s this arrogant black bisexual character who behind his eyes seems to hold all the weight of the world. There’s this sense that we should be afraid of Levi, but because we’re also in his head, we realize how messy and complicated he is.
At the same time it gives us the gift of observing the character development of Enne. The City of Sin isn’t kind to anyone. And at the beginning, even I wasn’t sure if Enne was going to make it out in one piece. She’s judgemental, rule abiding, and concerned about making her debut in society. But her character completely changes in the span of a week into someone I could fall for.
Ace of Shades is a wonderfully immersive book that asks us about our actions – when do we become monsters? Irredeemable? And is it ever that easy? When we’re forced to commit crimes, to blow past our lines in the sand, and see the other side of never, who will we become?