An Urban version of Stephanie Garber's 'Caraval' in The Best Way!
I’m obsessed with Ace of Shades. A big city, casinos and a vicious execution game? Yes, please! I was expecting big things and it totally delivered. The city of New Reynes is like one giant mysterious game, and it felt a little bit like an urban version of Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I mean that in the very best way possible; I love books like that.
Enne is such a lovely, feminine character. The contrast between her and new Reynes – the City of Sin – is absolutely incredible. The first thing she does when she gets to the city is getting herself in trouble, which – in a weird way – I could relate to? Hehe! She sticks to her guidebook as if her life depends on it it probably does, though… and it was so much fun to read from her perspective! Her development is one into darkness. She’s really joining the dark side! It also proves that “no one leaves the city uncorrupted” isn’t just some line to draw you into the story. We often see “dark/evil” characters get better or nicer, so this was such a nice, surprising change. What I love most is probably that she stuck to her roots. No matter what she went through or what happened to her, she never lost that feminine touch.
I love Levi, so much. I feel like him and Enne are opposites in many ways (even some very mysterious ways I’d love to know more about!?) but that’s why they’re so wonderful together. Anyway, he might be a street lord and a con man, but he’s so much more than that! He’s so caring and sweet and he definitely doesn’t deserve all the crap in his life. He just tries to help people and be good and it’s heartbreaking to think of how badly things went for him sometimes. Levi grew on me so quickly. I just loved him from the moment he entered the story and then he just continued to surprise me. I’m so glad we got to read from his perspective.
The worldbuilding in Ace of Shades was so well done. The city has such a dark, grimy and mysterious vibe to it. And since everything is like a game, it really reminded me of Caraval. Both worlds are equally amazing, but I guess I love Ace of Shades‘ more because I love cities so much. Enne’s guidebook and Levi’s knowledge of New Reynes really added to the book. Enne might have had the “facts” but Levi knew stuff from experience and it was so interesting to see the difference between the two!
The plot kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. It’s epic but it’s also so much more than that! There was so much mystery, and it often felt like one big quest to find identity for both Enne and Levi. It all leads up to one epic finale and it was just so good! The Shadow Game was by far the best part of the plot. It was so intense and scary and holy plot-twist, Batman! Like everything else in this book, it was perfect. That seems to be the only word I know to describe this book.