Review of Harper Alexander’s Ace (The Queen, the Jack, and the Master, #1)

Ace

I downloaded Harper Alexander‘s Ace (The Queen, the Jack, and the Master, #1) from Amazon’s KDP list.

Description from Goodreads:
“There will be crime on your hands, and treachery on your heels. A cruel, cruel world on your shoulders, and no flowers on your grave. And the joke, well…unfortunately, bless your heart, the joke will be on you. Only you. For there is a presence of hostility whose fangs are sunk deep into your future. There are gnashing teeth on your heels and around every bend. There is a price on your destiny. The bounty hunters among the angels will be after you. There is no stealth, Lady Spade. There is only running. So I suggest you run.”

If she had been so lucky, Ace might have received just such a warning. But the entirety of the point, here, is that she’s not. She has been chronically hapless from the web of the womb. Cursed with relentless, ruthless misfortune. Her very own entourage of bad luck, its signature everywhere, its shadow widespread and swift. The only compensation for this forsaken fate, destiny’s sole remedy: the fact that she is gifted and lucky at cards. Grossly lucky.

But survival is far from sympathetic. And not all games are as easy as cards on a table.

Review:
I couldn’t log into Goodreads last night for some reason, which means I couldn’t see my TBR list [the horror]. I was forced to pick something from my kindle essentially at random. I chose Ace. It starts with an A so it was early in the list. I was too lazy to keep looking. Decision made, end of.

I started it largely without reading the description. I’m sure I did when I downloaded it, but who know when that might have been. I didn’t know what I was getting into and this isn’t one of those books that tells you the plot on page one. Once I figured out what was going on, however, I started to really enjoyed it. The writing is sharp and theres’s a certain snappiness to the narration that I liked a lot. I kept on enjoying it until…

If I used star ratings on this blog I would say that I was set on giving it a full five stars right up until the last page, when it just suddenly and unexpectedly ended. There was no tapering off, no conclusion of the plot, no closure with the characters, just a harsh, ragged ending. It was as if someone had ripped several pages out (except that i was reading the Kindle version). It’s 338 pages long, so it’s a complete book, not one of those teaser novellas that are all the rage right now. But there is NO ending. This is not a stand alone book. I hate that! It’s my current number one literary pet peeve. I would almost drop it all the way down to three stars out of simple irritation, but that really wouldn’t be fair. But really, who wants to finish a book and not know the ending?

Lack of satisfying conclusion aside, I liked almost everything else about this book. (Except for the fangs explicatives. It was a cute idea, but there were just so fanged many of them.) It did take a startling long time to figure out where the plot was going. I don’t just mean that it’s such a intriguing mystery I couldn’t figure it out. It felt a bit like it was drifting. Characters have to find their quest, or obstacle to over-come and it took a long time (most of the book actually) for Ace to find hers. If in fact she did. Given the lack of ending it’s hard to know if the final escapade was THE ONE or just another one. That’s part of what made the abrupt ending so harsh. It felt like she had JUST, finally gotten started. Be that as it may, I enjoyed her crazy, unpredictable, curse-ridden journey, even when I didn’t know what it was supposed to be accomplishing. (OK, I’m letting it go now.)

The whole thing had a strange Douglas Adams feel to it. It’s a completely different genre, of course, dragons instead of space ships, lack-luster primitives instead of depressed robots, but the random nature of events felt similar. So did the humour. Ace’s non-plus acceptance of her curse and the unexpected places it took her is very reminiscent of Arthur Dent’s hapless trek through the galaxy at the behest of good old Ford Prefect. I laughed aloud more than once.

Ace, herself, is a strong female lead. Very little makes her loose her cool…very little but one, Mr. Cheater. Cheater gets on her very last nerve on a regular basis and I loved him. He was calm and collected, mysterious and dangerous, witty and just a little sexy too. I want more of him. There were very few meaningful side characters in the book. Palo is the only one I can even think of. But Ace encountered quite a few that popped in and then out again. They may or may not be of any importance.

All-in-all, I generally enjoyed the book, but there is just so much unfinished business that I feel very unsettled about it. (OK, so I couldn’t quite let it go.) What about the pirates, the crazy gypsy lady, the old woman and her amazing mansion? I want to know. I’ve got the sequel, . I’m really hoping it clears things up because I genuinely want to go back to loving this story.

April 14, 2013: If you’re interested, I read and reviewed Ace of Hearts here. I had many of the same compliments for the second book as the first, but also many of the same complaints.

3 thoughts on “Review of Harper Alexander’s Ace (The Queen, the Jack, and the Master, #1)

  1. Harper Alexander

    Hey there! Harper Alexander here (the author of Ace.) I don’t normally interact with reviews/reviewers of my work, but I appreciated your review(s) of both these books so far and thought they warranted a response! I want to say first off that I love hearing readers’ thoughts and appreciated your comments (and that you were generous with your review, even though not everything completely satisfied you). I wanted to respond in large part so you know what to expect from the sequels, which might be appreciated if you’re uncertain about the direction they’ll be going.

    I originally wrote ‘Ace’ purely for fun. I liked the idea and enjoyed her adventures, and so decided to make it a series purely for the enjoyment of writing about her. So, full disclosure: there are 6 books planned, which means lack of full resolution for a little while yet (sorry!) That being said, you are right in assuming (and hoping) that certain things receive further development and explanation. While a few of the scenarios were random and just for quirkiness’ sake, most of them tie in with future plot developments.

    The first book was always sort of intended as an ‘introduction’ type adventure in which you get to know Ace and her character and her way of life (which very much includes ‘running’, hence the ending that lacked resolution). So far, almost every bit of feedback I’ve received has had a bone to pick with the ending; it never bothered me, since it’s intended as an on-going series and I sort of enjoy stringing the characters along this way (and I suppose since I know how everything ties up myself), but it’s interesting to me to see how consistently that bothers actual readers. Good to know for future endings!

    So, the first book is pretty ‘intro’-oriented; the second starts to get into some key developments; but it’s the third where things really start to come together and click into place, setting the stage for a more concentrated second half to the series. Hopefully you will still be along for the ride at that point, but if not – I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed ‘Ace’ and that it’s been cause for a few good laughs. That’s always nice for an author to hear!

    I’m considering combining the Ace books by twos so that it would end up being a trilogy (and these first two would actually be one, which may slightly help the feeling that there are too many open-ended endings leading into next books), but we’ll see.

    Thanks again for your honest review – some authors choose not to read reviews, but I like to know how I can improve the future reading experience of my fans!

    Reply
    1. Sadie Post author

      Hello indeed. I love hearing from authors, so thank you for the comment/information. And before I start raving about OMG six books (!!) let me just say how much I enjoy your writing and Ace & Damien’s story. I honestly really do, but OMG six books before a conclusion!! I’m not usually one to throw around extra exclamations marks, but…!!!!!? Wow, that leaves me a little speechless. I can completely see how the series has enough potential for six books. That doesn’t surprise me at all and I also realise long stories have to be broken up into manageable pieces. Even ebooks can only be so big. But that’s a lot of commitment on the part of the reader, both finically and in terms of time, before giving them anything solid in return. (Other than the enjoyment of the story itself of course)

      I like your idea of combining the books. I think if I had read six hundred consecutive pages and then reached the first cliffhanger I would have been ok with that. Just like I did at the end of Ace, I would have raced out and bought book 2 (3 & 4 in the six book break down) without too much angst. It was reaching two such endings in a row (and then the prospect of who knows how many more) that finally made me feel like I wasn’t going to get any conclusive return for the time I sent with the story. So two cliffhangers and a conclusion doesn’t feel as unsatisfying as five and a conclusion. If that makes sense. Plus, as a reader I’m often willing to commit to a second chance and then give in and read the last book of a trilogy, while I might not give a series third or fourth chance (let alone a fifth or sixth). Again, if that makes sense. That is of course assuming that all of the books end as abruptly as the first two.

      I know you said you had received other comments on the endings, but it’s also possible that I’m just a little more sensitive to such endings than others. It really is a pet peeve of mine. I like a nice tidy ending, or at least a wrap up of some sort. Some people may not care as much. We all have our own personal likes and dislikes after all.

      I’d love to see where the story goes, so maybe instead of dropping the series entirely I’ll compromise and just not pick up anymore until they’re all available. That way I can just ignore where the actual books break up and pretend it is just one continuous book.

      I grabbed Spychild off of the KDP list earlier today. I can see from the description that it is a completely different sort of story, but as I’ve enjoyed your writing so far I thought I’d give it a chance too.

      Reply
  2. Harper Alexander

    Hey, thanks so much for the reply! I really am not even bothered by you having some qualms with the story just because you’re an intelligent and thoughtful reviewer, and you really were very generous! In fact, I’ll probably send you complimentary sequels (after they’re all finished, if you prefer 🙂 ) for your angst, and since I do appreciate your comments and reviews so much. (And then you can decide if you want to go ahead and read the rest or not).

    Have fun with Spychild! It is indeed a very different story and geared toward a slightly younger audience (I also wrote it when I was quite a bit younger), but it’s been received fairly well so far. (I must warn you that it has a cliffhanger ending (I promise not all my books do!), but it does only have one sequel which resolves the story nicely, so that’s something!

    Thanks again, and happy reading!

    Reply

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