A review by bobarisu
Bloody Spade, by Brittany M. Willows

2.0

2.5 stars.

I really wanted to like Bloody Spade, but the writing was just not there for me. However, I'm always here for an edgy cat boy and those two stars are both for Iori because he's the best character hands down.

The main reason I couldn't vibe with this book is because there are no distinct character voices in the writing. In the narration, we are told everything in a pretty matter of fact manner and it all sounds the same regardless of which character we are learning about. I wish the book took time for us to get to know Ellen and Alexander more intimately, but I feel like the book sped through their introductions instead of showing us the intricacies of each character. From what I got, Ellen is nice and Cares TM and Alexander is a golden boy on the outside and an angsty boy on the inside. It's fine as a starting point, but what else is there? Additionally, the dialogue was very trite and everyone sounds the same there too. Hikaru and Elizabeth's dialogues were just so basic, it's just like you could replace anything they said with (peanuts wah wah wah sound) insert authority figure's words of affirmation here. Don't get me wrong, I thought Elizabeth was a BAMF, it's just the dialogue didn't do her many favors. The same can be said of most characters, though.

I thought the topics the characters discussed (therapy, grief, role of adults/authority figures in their lives) were important and it was nice they were covered. On the other hand I was in disbelief that everyone spoke so frankly about everything (except Iori, but he's getting there??). I can understand this might be an idealized version of how these convos would/could go, so I'm not mad about it. Iori's storyline the most well done and I actually related to it a lot despite my issues with the writing style. Alex's storyline though... I felt was resolved too quickly on top of the fact that his introduction wasn't the strongest in establishing his character. He had a lot of potential since he's the opposite side of the coin from Iori in many respects (look at that "vaguely homoerotic anime rivalry" Iori and Alex have going on there).

Ellen was fine, but I think her character introduction was bogged down by all the Joker exposition. I liked her most when she had family drama with Alex, but the Iori romance didn't hit for me. I don't really know the reason why other than YMMV I thought it was bland. I'm glad we got some allo x aspec pairings up in here tho even if I don't care for the ship.

There are too many villains and I don't care for any of them. Their goal is too vague and no one in the villain crew is that distinct (except for Kyani, since she's a POV character). I can tell this villainous team may have some inspiration from RWBY because I totally got those vibes. I know Blackjack is part of Iori's backstory, but having Blackjack and Alexander's arc come in at around the same time really lessened the impact of Alex's character for me. Lastly, I thought Kyani was the weakest link out of the entire main cast. I promptly place her in the category "Cool motive, still torture" because... that's literally it. She was very boring to read about and that made the Blackjack chapters unbearable to get through.

Formatting issues:
In the paperback there are some paragraphs that are duplicated. I found this occured three times. There are also some parts of the book where the font size is either larger or smaller than the rest of the text. I didn't factor any of these formatting issues into my rating, but just something to note if the book is reprinted in the future.

More to come?