Title: Queen of Volts
Series: The Shadow Game #3
Author: Amanda Foody
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: September 1st, 2020 (Inkyard Press)
Synopsis: Only days after a corrupt election and brutal street war, one last bloodthirsty game has begun. The players? The twenty-two most powerful, notorious people in New Reynes.
After realizing they have no choice but to play, Enne Scordata and Levi Glaisyer are desperate to forge new alliances and bargain for their safety. But while Levi offers false smiles and an even falser peace to the city’s politicians, Enne must face a world where her true Mizer identity has been revealed…and any misstep could turn deadly.
Meanwhile, a far more dangerous opponent has appeared on the board, one plucked right from the most gruesome legends of New Reynes. As the game takes its final, vicious turn, Levi and Enne must decide once and for all whether to be partners or enemies.
Because in a game for survival, there are only losers…
Thank you to the publisher, Inkyard Press, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Jonas Maccabees of the Scarhands has been executed, but with his last breath, has plunged New Reynes into chaos (yet again) by outing Enne as the last living Mizer. But Enne’s identity being revealed quickly becomes a minor worry, as one last deadly Shadow Game has been initiated. The field has rapidly changed as a result of the election and recent street wars, and twenty two of New Reynes’ most influential from all walks of life are chosen, and they have no choice but to play. The most dangerous opponent yet has appeared, seemingly stepping straight out of legend, and as the game grows more vicious by the day, it’s not about winning or losing anymore – it’s about surviving.
“It didn’t matter what cards you were dealt. The City of Sin was a game, and the only way to win was to stack the cards in your favour.”
Well, that was quite the ride, and it was certainly a lot to wrap my head around! If there was one ARC I was really wishing for this fall, it was this one. Seeing as it has been well over a year since I read the last book, I forgot many of the finer details and seeing as Queen of Volts picks up only days after the ending of King of Fools, jumping right into things, a reread would have definitely been helpful. This series has been a complex puzzle right from the beginning, but it is only in this finale that I truly appreciated how many moving pieces there were and just how long of a game some characters were playing. With so many character POVs, it takes quite a bit of concentration to keep track of where everyone is and what they’re up to, especially since some characters who seemed minor earlier are suddenly stepping into very crucial roles.
Most of the players chosen for the game are ready to go for each other’s throats as several factions immediately form. With the golden cards handed out, nearly everyone who is anyone in New Reynes has been dragged into this game, from the Chancellor to the newly elected Harrison Augustine and his three omertas (Sophie, Harvey and Delaney). Enne and Levi just seem to be involved in a cycle of lies and secrets, neither willing to give an inch and take the first step of trusting the other. Enne is finally grasping that she is in way over her head, evident by the fact that for the majority of this book, her actions are reactive and impulsive, and the scheming and plotting from the first two books was something I sorely missed. There were times when it felt like she was just being petty to hurt Levi and I really wanted to shake some sense into her. Levi, on the other hand, seems to be the single person who is thinking straight, but of course, no one is listening to him. In case it wasn’t obvious, though the stakes are arguably the highest for Enne, I lost interest in her POVs early into the book and was instead more curious about how this complex puzzle was going to come together.
Two things I really wanted to see did happen in this book however: the mystery of Enne’s past was revealed, including who her father was and how she came to be in Lourdes’ care, and Enne finally using her Mizer power to create volts (which I’ve been so curious about ever since the first book) – and neither scene disappointed. Lola unexpectedly takes centre stage for a large part of this book, but I really didn’t like her arc. While her attitude is understandable considering the deal she made, it still felt rather extreme, and her actions were extremely selfish and stupid. Harvey was yet another character stepping into prominence, and for most of the book I was struggling with whether to be mad at him or pity him for his obviously toxic friendship/relationship with Bryce, who is the one orchestrating this latest bout of chaos. All in all though, hats off to Amanda Foody for developing his character in this direction, since I never expected to find a new favourite so late in the series.
“I am the only true legend of New Reynes, because legends cannot die.”
The theme of legends that were such a recurring pattern in the previous book becomes clearer now. There are still things Enne and Levi need to discover about the past, Enne’s heritage and more before this final Shadow Game can come to an end. One of New Reynes darkest legends has stepped onto the board, and her target is Enne, for a grudge spanning back to the beginning of the Revolution. It was interesting to note that in each book so far, there has been a different enemy to face, but this one was the real enemy all along. Despite such a late introduction, the groundwork that the author has laid with the world-building, setting and history of the city really helped to provide the appropriate nefarious feel to the villain.
I’m a little disappointed though, to not be able to rate this a full 5 stars. As one of my top 5 most anticipated reads this year, there were aspects I had much higher expectations for. The pacing remained an issue once again, the languid narration early in the book sharply contrasting with the chaos that was the last 30% or so. While the multiple POVs weren’t a problem in and of itself, the switches were too frequent and abrupt, often leaving a great scene or thread just hanging until a chapter or two later, by when the impact of what was happening had already died down.
As for the ending, I guess it was somewhat bittersweet and not an entirely bad one, even if the answer was staring them all in the face the entire time. I’m not really sure how many of them are buying into the whole reformed lifestyle either, seeing as it just doesn’t fit their characters, and I just expected an ending that was more exciting than that for all of them. Overall, Queen of Volts was a seriously intense read – painful, angsty, yet satisfying, and a marvellous conclusion to the series. Highly recommended!
Queen of Volts releases on September 1st, 2020.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: