I think this is the end of my run with The Shadow Game series from Amanda Foody. I’ll admit that I don’t think the story is terrible; in truth, one of the big reasons I bothered to request King of Fools from NetGalley is because I liked Ace of Shades more than I liked Six of Crows, the novel with which it is regularly compared with for reasons I personally find inadequate, but there you go. I think the big moment in which I realized that I had never fully invested myself with this series and the characters within it was when I neared the end of the novel and realized that a moment which was supposed to be immensely emotional just…was not for me. And the thing is, this emotional moment involved my favorite character. But for some reason, I just didn’t care. And that alone is eye-opening enough to let me know that I probably should spend more time with books and characters that actually evoke emotions from me, whether they are incredibly happy ones, sad ones, or even angry ones.
King of Fools picks up quickly where Ace of Shades leaves off, reacquainting you with characters you already know and introducing the next steps our main characters need to take in order to continue their survival. An integral chess piece in this game, of course, is Vianca Augustine. And as things begin to heat up with the sudden return of Vianca’s son, Harrison, Levi and Enne are forced to make a number of cagey decisions in order to carry out orders and save themselves. Just as it was in the last novel, the games of intrigue that the characters all get themselves into are very soon matters of life and death.
I’ll take this moment here to say that I’ve grown to really dislike Levi. Where I enjoyed his character in the first novel, his utter selfishness in nearly every decision he makes quickly proved to remove any kind of affection I had for him as a person and character. I grew increasingly annoyed with him throughout the course of the novel and even found the moments in which he disagreed with a choice Enne was making rather hypocritical considering all of the choices that he, himself, had made and was currently making. I really don’t think that he has a moral high ground to stand on.
Overall, I wasn’t invested in the story or the plot. And while I found it interesting and definitely don’t feel as though this series is a terrible one, it was unable to engage me enough. I never felt concern for the characters involved, barring two whom I was vaguely rooting for that of Sophia and Jac. And even then, I had a hard time. Instead of getting emotionally invested enough to feel happy for characters when things went right and upset when things went wrong, I felt more of an annoyance when things went wrong for those that I was interested in and didn’t care when they went right.
And then there’s just the fact that a lot of the accomplishments the characters made felt either too easy or too ridiculous. Now, I’m not really all that involved with the stock market and I do still require some explanation for how it works, but the involvement of investing in the gangs was just incredibly difficult for me to buy into. Enne’s money was made far too easily and with very little effort from her, leaving me feel kind of cheated with an easily achieved solution to her problem. I would have much preferred seeing her make the mistake of creating volts with her talent and dealing with the fallout from that. Both Enne and Levi’s success just didn’t feel realistic.
And I mean, I didn’t hate the book. But I didn’t leave it with any emotion other than annoyance. As that isn’t a feeling I really care to continue leaving books with, I feel it’s time to for me part with these characters. There are certainly areas where Foody could improve both her characters and her novel, but I think the bigger problem I had was struggling to find a connection with them. And that, in the end, is something I think has more to do with me.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.