Reviews

Bloody Spade, by Brittany M. Willows

ghxstking's review

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4.5

very nostalgic, brought back memories of being 13 and creating my own wolfgirl OC, being 14 and talking through plot ideas with my best friend, being 15 and suddenly having a group of my own characters who felt like family. i could feel the love the author holds for these characters while i was reading. it felt familiar. there are some technical problems, like some paragraphs having different font sizes and some sentences being written twice in a row, but i don't mind. it adds to the personal feel, the handwritten-in-a-spiral-notebook-during-class nostalgia. i really really love the magic in this book as well, it's interesting to learn about! excited for book two next year!

sunlit_music's review

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adventurous dark emotional funny hopeful reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

This book is action packed, and I finished it in just three days! I loved the main characters, especially Ellen and Iori! Really loved how Iori learnt to trust people, make friends and was given a second chance in life. Also loved how Ellen was willing to fight for the people she loves and how she has so much faith in them. 

The world building in this book is top notch and creative, and so well thought out! I loved how the book discusses the different powers of the Keepers, and how people used magic to help or hinder others. 

Really loved the character growth in Iori and Alexander, and I liked Kyani too. Also thought Tatiana was hilarious!

This book is a great mix of plotting and characterisation - I could almost never predict what was going to happen, although I did manage to predict who the Keeper of the Heart Suit would be. :) 

Also loved the insightful discussions on mental health and trauma, and how trauma affected the characters in different ways. 

I look forward to reading anything else the author will write. 

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spacebetweenpages's review against another edition

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adventurous dark mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75


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literarydelirium's review

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thank you to the author for the arc !!

super fun and it gave me anime vibes? anyway i have so many thoughts so i’ll do a full review soon hopefully

lokibernstein's review

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dark funny tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

rania__'s review

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5.0

4.5 stars

“Bravery is the absence of fear in the face of danger. Courage is about facing danger in spite of the fear.”

This book sucked me in from the very first page. The moment I read our main character’s chapter, I knew I was going to fall in love. What I really appreciated is that the MC was so much more different than the one’s you usually see in fantasy novels. For starters, it isn’t a badass female. It’s just a traumatized thief cursed with dark power who’s wanted all over the world. He’s also sassy and morally grey, so what’s not to love about that?

Our second main character is a soft cinnamon roll named Ellen who I’m going protect till my last breath. She just graduated from the police school, which over there is known as Cardplay, and the police are known as Jokers? Pretty creative I would say. I love how everything is to do with a game of cards. Ellen also has a very annoying older brother who had amazing character development and how do I know that you ask? Well because it started with me wishing I could gut him and ended with me going 'aw my poor baby' over him. Amazing progress, really.

The worldbuilding was done so beautifully and I could picture every single detail. Each character is unique in their own way and complimented the story so well. They’re also all queer and diverse which added so much to the story! Overall, I got a very strong anime vibe from the book and I adored it.

“She twirled, white hair and porcelain skin touched silver by the moonlight, with flung water droplets like stars around her. And Iori pictured himself has a meteor among them, no longer caught in this girl’s orbit but plunging helplessly through her atmosphere.”

The romance had to be one of my favourite parts of this book. The slowburn was just so good and when that moment you’ve waited for the whole book finally happens you just squeal out of joy because that’s literally all you can do. You can sense their undeniable chemistry from miles away, and this is one of those scenarios where everyone around them knows they like each other and they’re the only ones who don’t, and it’s honestly so cute!

There was never a dull moment in the plot, and the I have to say, some of the plot twists were really predictable but some of them just caught me off guard. The magic system is also so detailed, and surprisingly, it was really easy to get the hang of it. Overall, I had a lot of fun with this urban fantasy and I can’t wait to read the sequel (I hear it’s already in the works ;)!

doodles_and_books's review

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4.0

Thank you to the author for providing me with a review copy. This has not affected my review, which reflects only my honest opinions.

"Somehow, she made both him and this savage thing inside him feel safe. Made this room, this mansion, feel less like a prison, and more like a place that could come to have meaning to him."


My full review can be found here!

It feels an integral thing to know that Bloody Spade was originally intended to be a manga, because that influence seeps off the page in the best way—from the way characters (and their outfits, and their whole ass transformation sequences!!) are described, to the magic system (and the battles!), to how the plot itself builds and develops and, ultimately, unfolds.

Bloody Spade reminded me of literally all of my favourite animated shows, and it was just so…bloody fun. (oh no, I think that might count as a terrible pun)

That’s not to say there’s not heavier things that need unpacking—because certainly, there are. Like any of my favourite animes, Bloody Spade manages to balance the low points alongside a whole lot of heart, and a whole lot of humour.

Largely, that comes down to characters. When I say I adored the entire cast, I’m saying that with my whole chest. This is one of my new favourite groups of superqueeros, okay? (technically it’s more magic than superpowers, but you get my drift) The entire cast is the best sort of rambunctious found family, complete with fabulous rep across the board. In particular, Iori and Ellen are the slowburn grump and sunshine pairing of my dreams. I knew I was a goner the minute that Bloody Spade employed the use of my literal favourite trope of all time within the first fifty pages *cough*hurt/comfort*cough* involving these two. The giddy flip-flopping of my heart that they put me through?

aria_'s review

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slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

There were many things I liked about Bloody Spade, and a few things I didn’t love as much, but most of all, while reading it I really loved how unique it is. Far too many fantasies follow the same pathway, becoming very much the same but Bloody Spade veers away from this in remarkable ways.

The story is told in a really interesting way, and is rich with many subplots that weave through and around the main narrative, making everything had an incredible amount of depth and meaning. This is all also supported by the complex magic system Willows has created, and I loved reading about the Empowered, and how they lived in the world of Bloody Spade.

Bloody Spade also has excellent diversity in main characters and side characters alike. The use of neopronouns in literature is unfortunately very rare to see, and in general it is sadly uncommon to read about LGBTQ+ characters in fantasy. This was not at all the case in Bloody Spade. I just really loved that aspect of the book.

The use of the third person omniscient narrator was done really, really well. Instead of being confined to one perspective, the reader was really immersed in the story and in the world by being able to see the many different things happening in the plot, and in all the subplots. I’ve found that I sometimes prefer omniscient narrators, or at least books with multiple narrators to a single, so getting to have more of the full story in Bloody Spade was really nice.

I did really enjoy reading about the characters, and I love how many there were who all got their own subplots and personalities and real character arcs. Alexander and Ellen Jane’s relationship was one of my favorites to read about. The two siblings are very much at the center of the plot throughout the book, and have had to go through a lot together. This ends up in a lot of stress on the both of them that creates tension, especially when a certain Keeper falls into their life.

Iori, the Keeper of the Spade, was a really tragic character to read about, and was definitely one of my favorites. The layers to his character arc and role in the story never ceased to amaze me, and I really enjoyed learning more and more about him as the book went on.

I also loved Kyani so much, and I thought that she had an incredible story. Through her perspective, I was able to grasp so much more of the world Willows created in the book, and reading about Kyani’s side of the story offered up a really unique perspective on all of the events of the plot.

There were so many other characters that I liked reading about, but those four were definitely my favorites. Together, they made the book all the more interesting to read, and were really the ones who compelled me to keep going through the book.

But, as much as I liked reading the book, not everything was as perfect. I think that my main issue with Bloody Spade was the pacing. I felt like at times dit ragged down some other parts of the book, and took away from my enjoyment of it. The book just felt really long in places, and I struggled to get through the second third of the book. The first part and the ending went really well, and I thought were written very nicely. It was really just that middle chunk that was a bit more difficult, and that I felt could have moved a bit more quickly. Other than that, I did adore reading Bloody Spade though.

Bloody Spade is a unique and entertaining fantasy novel, with an engaging plot and compelling characters. I really liked reading it, and if you like urban fantasy, slow burn romance, and are on the lookout for a book with excellent LGBTQ+ representation, you should definitely check it out!

michellehogmire's review

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adventurous mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Thanks to BookSirens for a free advance copy of this title, which comes out today Sept. 15, 2021 (happy pub date!). I'm writing this review voluntarily.

It's the seventh anniversary of Reemergence Day, when magic appeared in mundane reality, and another potentially dangerous incident is on the rise. Magic is complicated in the world of Brittany M. Willows' Bloody Spade: between the mythological realms of the Domain and the Void, magic contains elements both light and dark, and society has been deeply impacted by the emergence. 

Enter two (seemingly) opposing forces and characters: first, Iori Royne, a young man who controls an incredibly wild kind of magic. As a figure called the Keeper of the Spade, he wields the menacing power of the Void and gets by as a thief, running from the authorities. Our other main character, Ellen Amelia Jane, exists on the other end of the magical spectrum: she's a Joker--a recent graduate of Cardplay, a magical policing force that aims to protect humanity from the darker side of magic. Ellen's brother, Alexander, is the most prestigious member of Cardplay, so things don't go well when she decides to assist an injured Iori. Actually, though, the Jokers will need Iori's help--he knows about the original architects of the Reemergence, and they're going to try to create even more chaos, unless they can be stopped. Throw in an evil inventor/corporation head who's willing to conjure deities, a criminal mobster-esque magical organization called Blackjack, and a woman who's forced to work with the enemy to protect her father, and you have the recipe for an incredibly original fantasy novel.

Author Willows' book contains excellent characters and amazing world building, culminating in an all-out battle for the fate of humanity, both Empowered (magical) and non-magical. Bloody Spade has it all: wonderful ace representation, complicated sibling relationships, and the perfect set-up for a sequel. I wish someone would make this into a video game, because I'd definitely play it! 

mehek_critiques_of_a_fangirl's review

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adventurous dark emotional hopeful medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0