King of Fools (The Shadow Game #2) by Amanda Foody
Guard your hearts because if you were emotionally destroyed during Ace of Shades… uh… yea. I yelled HOW COULD YOU when I finished this one.
About the Book
Publisher: Inkyard Press | Release Date: Apri 30, 2019 | Pages: 602
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy | Format: eARC | Source: Publisher via Netgalley
On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Seance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.
Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with Vianca Augustine’s estranged son. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by the mafia donna’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.
As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: To sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive…
Or die as legends.
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While this review is spoiler-free, if you haven’t read Ace of Shades yet, I’d recommend not reading this review or book synopsis as both have spoilers for book 1.
“Oaths, omertas, Chainers – there’s a reason so many in the North Side favor such weapons. New Reynes killed the queen the very day she hoped to negotiate peace. The City of Sin was built on duplicity.”
Friends, this was one of my most highly anticipated sequels of 2019 and Foody did not disappoint! There is a lot going on in this sequel and there is never a dull moment, but the narrative is easy to follow and infectious. Guard your hearts because if you were emotionally destroyed during Ace of Shades… uh… yea. I yelled HOW COULD YOU when I finished this one. This book is action-packed with character development galore and intensely feminist.
I was scared that this book would suffer from Middle Book Syndrome: that there would be a lot of waiting, a lot of preparing with very little action until the end, and the characters wouldn’t really develop. I was so happy that these fears were unfounded because, in all of these regards, King of Fools really shines. This is a more character development focused installment that sets a lot up for book 3. We learn more about the history and politics of New Reynes, building up to an intense ending – I can’t wait for the third book!
With the Chancellor of the Republic dead, New Reynes is thrust into campaign season and there are two parties vying for power. New Reynes is in a bit of chaos not unlike all those years prior during the revolution and history has a dangerous way of repeating itself. A street war is brewing beneath the surface and it is a dangerous time to be vying for power on the North Side. Yet power is exactly what our characters seek.
“Vianca wanted righteousness. Levi wanted glory. And she, Enne realized, wanted revenge.”
Every character in this book is searching for something and vying for power of their very own. Vianca Augustine particularly is disturbingly interesting, and if you pre-order this book you will learn a bit more of her backstory and how she met Levi in the free short story that is the pre-order incentive. *whispers* You should do it.
King of Fools is told in three points of view: Enne, Levi, and Jac. And as a person that often struggles with multiple POV narratives, it completely worked for me here. Each of them has their own goal and main focus/partnership, and it was really interesting to see the inside perspective from each and how everything connects at the end. I really loved learning more about Lola and Jac’s backstories, especially more about Levi and Jac’s friendship. This little found family of Levi, Jac, and Enne is tested in King of Fools as each of them enters into unlikely partnerships.
I love how Enne and Levi are forced to grapple with the events of the first book, and how everything came back around by the end of this book. The last 35-40% of the book had me in an anxiety spiral and the ending broke me. The story is intricately and impressively plotted for maximum feels.
“Despite his many recent and frightening brushes with death, the thought of failure scared him more. He would rather die a legend than end his life in anonymity.”
Levi’s ambitions were definitely prevalent in Ace of Shades; however, they come to the fore in King of Fools as he will do anything to become a legend himself. He is determined to claim his destiny and freedom. Levi’s dogged pursuit of becoming a legend and securing his freedom pits his aspirations with those he holds most dear. My heart hurts just thinking about it.
“If Enne was about to become a street lord, then she could make her own rules. The City of Sin would learn that a pistol painted pink was just as lethal.”
Foody’s long referred to this installment as her “girl gang book,” and that definitely describes this book. After the events of Ace of Shades, Enne has taken on the Seance persona to create her own gang (the Spirits), and the relationships that she builds with Lola and new additions to the cast are precious. I am so happy that we get to see more of Lola in this book, she provides levity and witty asides throughout.
“‘Fine,’ Lola huffed. ‘But you better not be in trouble, because I really don’t have time today to say you.”
The fact that Lola is referred to as a “rule-abiding, knife collecting fraud” cracks me up: she has no qualms with so much of what happens but won’t jaywalk and honestly… that would be me. Every character was fleshed out in this book as we learn more about their pasts, inner conflicts, and desires.
One of the things that I love about this series, and this book, in particular, is the girl power. Our female characters are tough and strong but do not fall into the typical YA stereotype of being hard. They like nice things, dresses, and romance books; and Enne’s gang wears white gloves. They are ladies that also happen to be a part of the seedy underbelly of the North Side. They are strong and not in need of being saved by men, and their struggles are more than their relationship with men. And they want to achieve their own glory.
“Enne didn’t want a savior. She wanted a partner.”
The leaders of the other street gangs and their seconds make random appearances, and I will admit that I had a difficult time keeping the many side characters straight. This honestly may be because I have the memory of a goldfish, but for example, I repeatedly forgot who Harvey was. The only other thing that didn’t 100% work for me was the whole “forbidden love” thing for Levi and Enne. The “will-they-won’t-they” felt dragged out and a little heavy-handed for me… but that’s likely because they are my OTP and have been marking passages with KISS HIM since book 1. Despite that, I appreciate that Enne – while hurt – decided to focus on the plan and her gang rather than wallow because Levi’s feelings turned cold without explanation.
I also want to mention that King of Fools is queer: we have on-page bisexuality rep with Levi as well as a sapphic relationship. Per the author, “specifically, we have the return of Levi as a POV, aka disaster bisexual. there are also numerous returning and new supporting LGBTQ characters, and i am very excited that my current plans for Book 3 will include 3 queer POVs out of 5.”
PSA: i’m not sure if i mentioned this before, but as per ACE OF SHADES (and more so), KING OF FOOLS is quite queer. very queer, even. queerextraordinary. 🌈 i know there aren’t ARCs circulating, so i thought i’d throw out this info for those who’d like it
— Amanda Foody (@AmandaFoody) December 20, 2018
Overall, I loved King of Fools! It doesn’t feel like a fluffy connector book in the trilogy, but rather took a lot of time to expand our knowledge of the intricate world and develop the characters we know and love even further. Be warned that the book builds up the action steadily and the end of the book is both heartbreaking and a cliffhanger. Fans of found families and girl power definitely need to pick up this series!
REPRESENTATION: bisexual rep, characters of color, diverse characters, f/f romance, m/m romance, PTSD rep
CONTENT WARNINGS: drug abuse and recovery, murder, violence
Many thanks to Inkyard Press (formerly Harlequin TEEN) for sending me an eARC via NetGalley for my honest review! Quotes are taken from an unfinished ARC and may not match the final publication.
Let’s go on another adventure together!