Bloody Spade, by Brittany M. Willows

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

bombsandflowers's review against another edition

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LOVE. Can't wait to read the next one

clank's review

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Obviously, this had me at anime inspired, and that is a very accurate description. This was a super self indulgent read and I loved the magical girl transformations, the cat boy, and the heavily themed world based around playing cards. This also has really good casual lgbtq+ rep, and one of the best tropes, grumpy x sunshine.

themargherita_s's review against another edition

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This book has been on my TBR for so long and I’m mad at myself for not getting to it sooner 😤
The story was really interesting and Iori and Ellen were so freaking precious!!! I need the sequel RIGHT NOW! 🥺💕

(I hope we get to see Iori and Alexander become friends in book 2 eheh) 👀

caranox's review against another edition

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This book met all my expectations and then some for an anime-inspired story that took me straight to a quirky, urban fantasy laced with a touch of nostalgia. Willows did an amazing job at pulling together a wonderful cast of messy, loveable characters I won't forget any time soon. I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!

gabriele_queerbookdom's review against another edition

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DRC provided directly by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Representation: protagonist on the asexual spectrum, queer Asian-coded protagonist, aromantic secondary character, demisexual demiromantic secondary character, queer Asian-coded tertiary characters, amputee Asian-coded tertiary character, trans tertiary character, queer tertiary character, Asian-coded tertiary character, Slavic-coded tertiary character, Black tertiary character, non-binary tertiary character.

Content Warning: death, violence, trauma, forced kiss, panic attacks, torture, bullying.

Bloody Spade by Brittany M. Willows is an adventurous fantasy set in a semi-fictional world in which a mysterious and cataclysmic event brings magic back.

Seven years have passed since the Reemergence, a bewildering event which brought death and unimaginable powers on the streets of Hildegrand and the reign of Amberlye. On the seventh anniversary of the occurrence a new influx hits Elysian Tower where numerous dangerous creatures are trying to escape a pit to run amok and cause disasters. It is there that Ellen and Iori meet for the first time.

I quite enjoyed reading Bloody Spade and I am very interested in knowing how this story will continue and conclude. There are a couple aspects I did not completely like though.

Firstly, the mixture of imaginary elements and real ones. This characteristic of the book is not something I disliked per se, but it is something I am not sure how I feel about. It is probably a me-thing and my preconceptions about urban fantasy, which I always thought had to be set in the real world with a fantasy element hidden from the general public.

Secondly, the mention of a star-crossed romance between the Heart and Spade suits, which is an aspect I will not discuss as it could spoiler parts of the story. I am just going to say it felt as an unnecessary piece of lore.

What I liked most about the story was the originality of the premise and the magical system, and the diverse ensemble of characters, among whom Ikkei stood out. He had my heart from the moment he called Alexander a b*tch, which is exactly what I called him in my mind for most of the book and I wish he will get a bigger role in the second book.

Bloody Spade is a literary adventure you should really think about reading and pre-ordering!

tdb832's review against another edition

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A genuinely impressive book with unforgettable characters. There are strong RWBY and Soul Eater vibes in this story (both of which I adore), but it's a story all its own. I love Iori and Ellen so much. It's clear there's going to be a bit of slow burn angle here, but it's clearly going to be SO GOOD when it finally pays off. The fight scenes are good and the magic is awesome...but damn if I don't want sound-powered skates.

rainbow_kitten_five's review against another edition

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This book is just, really boring. I love the idea but I know exactly what is going to happen and I don't truly care about any of the characters.

readtoramble's review

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I was provided with a free copy of this book to read and review by the author, so thank you so much to Brittany for reaching out to me and sending me the book.

Trigger warnings (provided by the author): Coarse language, blood and violence, some gore, moments of graphic violence/torture, parent death (discussed, recalled in flashbacks), emesis, body horror, anxiety/panic attacks, trauma related to kidnapping/physical abuse, one instance of a forced kiss (not intended to be romantic/sexual).

Bloody Spade by Brittany M. Willows is the first instalment in The Cardplay Duology, an LGBT urban fantasy series. As soon as I started reading this book, I had a smile on my face because THIS is the kind of fantasy that I love. I don’t often get the chance to read these kind of stories, but I just love them, they are very comforting, very unique, and I usually get so immersed in them. This was definitely the case here.

I really enjoyed the world-building. It was seamless and I never felt like there was an info-dumping going on. This is a world built up from nothing, but it feels very real and I never questioned any of the author’s choices because they all fit together really well. I’m so glad that this is a duology because I can’t wait to come back to this world.

This magic system is like nothing I have ever read before, and I loved it from literally the first page. I am a total fantasy/magic story junky, and this satisfied me completely. I would have liked a bit more information behind the magic and how it appeared, how life was like before, but I think it will be explained a bit more in the second book.

You know me, I love me some dark atmosphere and plot, and this book delivered. It felt dark throughout, like the world itself feels dark, which is mainly due to the Void and the awakening of magic that happened some years before the events of this story. Darkness is woven into the magic, and it was interesting to see how characters like Iori had to battle the darkness, but also learn to accept it and work with it. It was definitely atmospheric, so really recommend it on that front if it’s something you look for in books.

Overall, this was an amazing first instalment in what I’m sure is going to become a favourite duology for me. I found that the pace was good, a tad fast at times but that’s not a problem really, and the writing style was very fluid. I read this one really quite quickly (it just took me ages to write the review) and I really enjoyed it. It had a good pace and rhythm, it was really well executed and made me want to pick up the second book immediately – it will be so hard to wait for it to be published!

I gave this book 4.5 stars and I had a great time reading it. I lost myself in this story, I was totally rooting for all the characters – except Alex for the first part of this book – and I found it so unique, new and engaging. I loved the broadness and scope of it, it seems like there is still so much to learn and I hope book 2 is a chonker because I don’t want to leave this world anytime soon!

If you love your fantasies dark and unique, you enjoy reading about unique magic systems that captivate you, and you love reading about complex, relatable and endearing characters, then this is the book for you, I highly recommend it.

mousereads's review

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Thank you to the author for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Bloody Spade was one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a while. When someone says a book embodies anime aspects, it’s hard to know just what they mean by that. However, this book really does encompass that experience. You have magical girl-esque transformation scenes, card game-based magic, and a fantastical world. Willows did a fantastic job with world-building within this environment.
Iori and Ellen are incredibly lovable. On the other hand, her brother Alexander frustrated me to no end. While I am thankful he developed as a character, he is the reason that this review loses a half star from me. His protectiveness of Ellen bordered on toxic and unhealthy, and I didn’t love that. Iori has notable PTSD, and Willows wrote this well. It was interesting to read about this in a fantasy aspect, especially when so often this goes disregarded.
Overall, this is an exciting new series that I can’t wait to read more of.

My full review will be posted on my blog on September 13th, 2021!