King of Fools is the second book in the Shadow Game series (with Ace of Shades being the first), written by Amanda Foody. If you haven’t read Ace of Shades and plan to in the future, there are a couple of spoilers from that, as this is a sequel and the synopsis does mention a couple- just skip the next paragraph or first couple of sentences.
King of Fools is an action packed, fast paced sequel set in the notorious City of Sin, which follows on directly from the first instalment. It begins as Enne and Levi have just escaped the Shadow Game, when they are faced with the fall out and a series of repercussions, including a bounty on both of their heads. This book focuses on the main characters attempting to fix the fate of New Reynes through their own deeds and with the assistance of other stakeholders and gangs. This is done both criminally and politically. The narrative is told through three different perspectives of Levi, Enne and Jac as they each face different challenges over a series of months. Levi, with the development of an unlikely partnership, Enne, attempting to build her own gang and stuck between being a street lord and proper lady, and Jac who builds an unlikely friendship with a woman who holds significant power over one of the cities wealthiest families.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Despite its intimidating size, it kept me engaged throughout and the fast pace made me want to keep reading into the night. One thing that really stood out to me was the inclusion of three narrators. As there was a lot more going on in this book, by having each of the main characters narrate, as a reader, we were able to see further into the plot and what was going on. This also allowed for the characters to develop further and to discover more about their context. I especially liked reading Jac’s point of view, as he was only a secondary character in the first book and this book really allowed for him to show what he was capable of. Jac was able to prove that he was more than just Levi’s second and he could make his own choices based upon what he believed in. I found Enne’s chapters thrilling to read too, as she battled with herself and what she believed in, whether she should be a street lord or whether she should just be a set of eyes for Vianca.
Unlike other young adult fantasy books, I commend Foody for writing about some topics which other authors may find confronting or shy away from. Within this book, there is mention of drug addiction and abuse, torture and parental abuse (to name only a few). While these scenes may be confronting for some, they allow the reader to visualise the high stakes of the city and the lengths that the characters will go to, to ensure that they are in control.
Another aspect of the book I really enjoyed was the inclusion of Enne’s gang and the feminist representation within. These girls all came together with a common goal of seizing power in a city where the men were seen to rule the gangs. Despite their differences, they all worked together to achieve their goals despite numerous setbacks. I also admired the character of Enne and how she changed so much from Ace of Shades. Her character development was phenomenal, going from a girl who was used to a fancy finishing school, to leading a gang. Over time, she learnt the ways of the city and that it was a fight to survive.
This book also included mystery within its pages too. This aura of mystery made me want to continue reading, to find out what was happening. There was the mystery regarding who Vianca’s third omerta was which left the reader guessing throughout the whole book. There was also the mystery regarding Sophie, who she is and what her intentions were over the course of the book. These were two things within the book which kept me guessing until the very end and made me engage more with the plot.
I also felt like the characters were further developed throughout this book. While the various other gangs were introduced in Ace of Shades, King of Fools gave Foody the opportunity to flesh out these gangs and the members within them. The reader was able to find out more about the gangs, what they were after (considering the events of the previous book) and how they aimed to achieve this. There were shifting alliances, new members joining old gangs and new gangs being formed. I especially liked learning more about the Scarhands and the Doves as they were previously introduced but not too much was known about them.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading King of Fools and following Enne, Levi and Jac on their journeys in New Reynes. This was a book that kept me engaged throughout due to its fast pace and inclusion of so much action. I am very much looking forward to reading the next book when it is released to see where the plot goes!
I rated this book: 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
King of Fools will be released in Australia later this month and has already been released in the US. Thank you to the publishers, Harlequin Australia, for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley
More about the book and information regarding where to purchase can be found by accessing the link below: