Bloody Spade – Book Review

Title: Bloody Spade
Author: Brittany M. Willows
Series/Number: The Cardplay Duology #1
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Age: Upper Young Adult
Publication Date: September 15, 2021
Themes: Gray-asexual female lead, Pansexual male lead, Aromantic/bisexual and Demisexual/demiromantic deuteragonists, Magic, Anxiety, PTSD Rep,


A girl full of heart
A thief touched by darkness
A boy with a fiery temper
An unwitting servant of evil

The era of magic was once thought to be a myth, but after the Reemergence ushered forces both dark and light into the mundane world, it has since become a harsh reality. Now those affected by this strange power-a specialized group of Empowered called Jokers, known collectively as Cardplay-must protect their world from the darkness that threatens to consume it, all the while fighting for equality in a society clinging to normalcy.

But the Reemergence was only the beginning.

When another influx occurs on the seventh anniversary of that fateful event, an unfortunate encounter at ground zero lands Iori Ryone, a teenage boy in possession of a corrupt and legendary magic, in the care of recent Joker graduate Ellen Amelia Jane. From him, she learns the Reemergence may not have been the inevitable natural disaster it first seemed.

Someone is trying to tear down the barrier that separates the magical realms from the mundane. The question is, can Cardplay stop them before it’s too late?

Bloody Spade is the first installment in an urban fantasy duology that follows a cat-eared thief and a spirited girl as they try to navigate his wild magic, her hotheaded brother, a sinister plot, and the feelings they’re developing for each other.

Thank you to the offer for a review e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t read a lot of YA anymore, I always seem to struggle to get into it, but this one wasn’t a struggle. I’m almost mad at myself for not reading it sooner, but I know that I was in the right mood to read it when I did. I didn’t know what to expect from it other than magic and queer main characters. I like to go into books with a relatively loose idea of what they are about. I like to be surprised. And boy was I surprised!

I really enjoyed this! It was fast paced and gripping, which was exactly what I needed. For starters I loved Iori’s character. He was funny and witty and a little bit wild, but the more we got to know him the more we saw that there were deep layers that needed to be worked through. I felt so much for Iori. He had such a rough life and it felt like he just couldn’t catch a break, the poor kid.

Ellen was also a really great character. She was really sweet and caring, and I loved that she wanted to see the best in people and could see past the surface level situation. It was a huge contrast to her brother, Alexander. I will be honest, Alexander made me angry for a lot of this book, but I think in a good way. He was just so stubborn and so sure of his own opinions of people and situations that he couldn’t see that his views were based on his personal feelings and his need to blame someone. I had that kind of anger that if he had listened to his friends and the people that loved him he could have avoided a lot of the pain he had to go through later on.

In the end, I loved how things ended and were wrapped up, but also how the little bit of a cliffhanger left things with a eerie sense about what’s to come next. I can’t wait to read the completion of this duology.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


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