Arc Review: Bloody Spade by Brittany M Willows // ft. my first ever moodboard!

Thank you so much to the author for reaching out and providing me an ARC of Bloody Spade in exchange of an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Book Details

Bloody Spade (The Cardplay Duology, #1)

Title: Bloody Spade

Author: Brittany M. Willows

Series: The Cardplay Duology #1

Publication Date: 15th September 2021

Genre(s): Young Adult Fantasy

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Synopsis (from Goodreads)

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.

My Review

Buddy read with Rania @Rania’s Rambling Reads in July!

Now that was a rollercoaster of a book!

You know books which start off ever so slowly and gradually pick up pace? Well, Bloody Spade was NOT one of those. We were plunged right into the story in the very beginning, and it was such an exciting and promising start! After reading the first few chapters I was completely hooked. We have this cat-eared and cat-tailed thief (yes, thief!) who also yields dark magic, so obviously there was never a dull moment.

After setting up such high expectations in the beginning, the second half disappointed me a little. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was clearly not what I got. The ending and some other stuff in the middle was so very predictable, that was perhaps the only thing that I did not like about this book.

The major thing that makes this book stand out in my mind is its complex and detailed magic system. Though initially it was a lot to take in, I really appreciated the unique magic system (its based on cards!!) and detailed worldbuilding once I got the hang of it.

The characters were fantastic. My favourite was definitely Iori (like the name itself is awesome?), our misunderstood protagonist who basically controls magic that kills everyone else it touches (yes it is cliche but I love it anyway) and it took me a little more time to develop a liking to Ellen, our other protagonist who also yields strange magic but is a hopeless optimistic, but I eventually did. I felt like the side characters were quite underdeveloped, so I am looking forward to some improvement on that in the sequel.

Another thing about the characters was that they sometimes behaved like 12 year-olds (they were actually 16), so keeping that and some other aspects in mind, I would say this book would be perfect for somebody who is just transitioning from reading middle grade to young adult.

Overall, I’d recommend Bloody Spade to fans of the Renegades trilogy, and anyone who is looking for some rich urban fantasy in general.

My Rating:

★★★★ (4 stars out of 5)

Moodboard

I don’t know what it was about this book that made me want make a moodboard, and for once I decided to just go with the flow without overthinking it. Here’s my first attempt at a moodboard!

Do you have Bloody Spade on your TBR? Does it sound like something you’d be interested in reading? Which is your favourite urban fantasy?