Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.
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…
Folks, I love criminals. I want all the stories about criminals. Kaz Brekker. Locke Lamora. Tommy Shelby. All the criminals, please. So, despite the fact I was pretty meh on Amanda Foody’s debut novel, Daughter of the Burning City, I was really pulling for this one. Unfortunately, it was mucking boring. (See how dumb that sounds? Why can’t authors just let their YA characters swear? Real teenagers swear. Fictional teens should to.)
This is a dual-perspective fantasy. That’s an issue when I don’t like either of the POV characters. Let’s start with Levi. I wanted him to be a cunning criminal mastermind. He wisheshe was a cunning criminal mastermind. But he’s never even killed someone! No. If you want a tough, hard-boiled gang leader they can’t… be against killing people. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS, FAM.
And Enne. There were times when I thought I might like Enne. But it took so long for her to do anything remotely badass, she cried and whimpered a lot (and I know, tough people can cry, but she just did it so much), and there wasn’t enough to set her apart from every generic main character I’ve read recently.
The Shadow Game was also super anticlimactic. I didn’t realize it was going to be a normal card game, but with people betting their lives. I guess that’s kind of cool, but I’d just built it up so much in my head beforehand that when they sat down and began dealing cards, it was a big letdown. Also, I was never really clear on how any of the card games were supposed to work, which made a few major plot points kind of confusing.
But the real problem with this book is its lack of teeth. You want to be a violent gang novel? You need some actual violence. You need a lot of actual violence. And crime. You need character with sharper edges. You need more people getting cut on them. You need more hard choices. Ace of Shades had none of that. Everyone kept on waxing poetic about how they’re baaaaaad and corruppptedddd but I never saw them do anything that bad. They don’t even swear! Where are my antiheroes? Levi’s good at cards! Sometimes he cheats a bit! Enne starts wearing darker colours of lipstick and lower necklines. Whoop-de-doo. When are people going to get hurt?
The one plus I will give to it is the setting. It wasn’t quite like anything I’ve seen before in YA and, I think, with a better story to play out in it, it could have been pretty compelling.
Maybe Amanda Foody just isn’t for me. This book isn’t. It’s about as dark and dangerous as a cream pie. Yes, I can be entertained by things other than death and dismemberment, but if you say gangster, I’ve got some expectations. And they are way higher than this.