Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

ACE OF SPADES is Gossip Girl meets Get Out,with a shocking twist. Buried secrets come to light when two students are targeted by an anonymous bully with an explosive agenda.

Hello, Niveus High. It’s me. Who am I? That’s not important. All you need to know is…I’m here to divide and conquer. – Aces

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is revealing the darkest secrets of two students.

Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public.

Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…

Fans of novels by Karen McManus, Maureen Johnson and Holly Jackson… you’re not going to want to miss this. Ace of Spades is something akin to Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars meets Get Out.

Set in the prestigious private school Niveus Academy, Chiamaka and Devon are the only two black students there, and both are targeted by the anonymous Aces, who is determined to ruin their lives.

Ace of Spades is slick, compulsive and so clever. Unputdownable is a massive understatement. This is definitely a must read thriller of 2021

My head was spinning and my heart was in my mouth; there was pounding reverberations in my ears and tightness in my chest. The story was the definition of high stakes. Honestly if you’ve seen Get Out you’ll 100% understand the “WTF” vibe of utter wrongness the story evoked, and Ace of Spades is just as evocative. 

That meme of Tiffany Haddish holding Kevin Hart was me holding Devon and telling Aces to back the eff off. My heart genuinely shredded for him throughout the whole story and I felt immensely protective of him. His story was guttural and I loved his character. He’s the quiet boy in class who’s doing everything he can to help his mum and chase his musical dreams of getting into Juilliard. Chiamaka was a more morally grey character, representing all the kids out there who play a persona in high school because of peer pressures. Both she and Devon were juggling parental expectations and legacies, and it was so well drawn, I was stressed out alongside them. 

And can we take a moment to cheerlead over how INCREDIBLE the queer rep was here! For me, Ace of Spades is one of the best mystery/thrillers to champion queer relationships and identities – it felt positive and encouraging. 

Was it a perfect thriller? I had some doubts and questions, particularly why Chia and Devon didn’t speak to their parents before nearly everyone and anyone else, and what the outcome was for side characters like Dre, Belle and Jack. However, I feel my enjoyment, the story’s unputdownable-ness and its delve into an own voices exploration of institutional racism strongly outweighs any issues I had by the end. For a debut, it’s very impressive and one of the most entertaining and mastered mysteries I’ve read this year. It’s powerful, polarising and truly petrifying. I recommend it 10000% and love Illumicrate’s special edition of the book.

Thank you kindly to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for this honest review.

Buy It Now

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