Book Review: Bloody Spade by Brittany M. Willows

Today’s Brew of Choice: Brown sugar espresso

Good morning! I’m really excited to share this review. It’s been a long time coming, and I finally get to share with you all! This book review is one of those collaboration moments that lead to making a great connection, and I’m so happy that I was able to connect with Brittany. Great people write great books, it’s just the facts. Please enjoy!

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Title: Bloody Spade
Author: Brittany M. Willows
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication date: September 15, 2021
Genre: Urban fantasy, action & adventure, magic fantasy, slow-burn romance

A stunning new YA fantasy with a unique magic system and delightful worldbuilding

At a glance: Cursed by the corrupt and dark Spade, Iori somehow finds himself in the care of someone in the organization that has been hunting him and his power.

  • ❤️‍🩹 Trauma and Healing
  • 🏳️‍🌈 Huge LGBTQ+ Rep
  • 🌼 Self Discovery
  • 🕯️ Slow Burn

Read this if… you want a book that is very obviously full of heart, if you want unique and fun world-building, or if you love broken characters that find the strength to heal along the way.

Diversity Representation: gray-asexual female lead, pansexual male lead, aromantic/bisexual and demisexual/demiromantic deuteragonists. Among the supporting characters: gay, lesbian, transgender (trans boy + a nonbinary character who uses neopronouns). Racially diverse cast. Anxiety/PTSD rep.

Content Warnings: Coarse language, blood and violence (some gore), moments of graphic violence/torture, emesis, body horror, anxiety/panic attacks, one instance of a forced kiss (not intended to be romantic or sexual)

Book Review

Fun, joyful, magical, sweet and dark, well thought out, exciting, full of action!

Bloody Spade was such a fun book! When the author approached me and asked me to read her ARC I was so happy. I saw she had liked one of my tweets, and I (admittedly) stalked her book, so when I saw it in my inbox I was thrilled to, say the least! This book definitely surpassed my expectations. I find myself thinking about how well done this book was constantly. What a wonderful debut!

Quick Summary: Since the Reemergence, a mysterious event that brought both dark and light magic back into our world, society has been desperately clinging to what it once knew. Those affected by magic are forced to not use their magic or forced into the Jokers, a specialized group of Empowered fighting off dark magic. For Iori, it’s much more complicated than that. Plagued by the corrupt and dark power of the Spade, an unexpected turn of events lands Iori in the care of a recent Joker graduate, Ellen.

I absolutely loved how well references to a card deck were tailored into the writing. Everything is named after cards or related to cards, it was so much fun. It is definitely something that I haven’t seen before and it was so unique! The depth at which everything ties into a deck of cards is stunning, it does not let up, and it is very thorough. The legendary magic powers are named after suits, the specialized group of Empowered are called Jokers, and collectively Cardplay. It’s all so fun, and it feels like an anchor that readers will recognize in this well-thought-out magical world.

I also loved the relationship between Ellen and Iori. They compliment each other so well. There is so much time to really understand the characters and their relationship, it gives them so much life, so Iori and Ellen were really able to flourish here. The way that they are so determined to protect each other right from the start is so sweet. Not only that, they are so wonderfully respectful of each other and their space. Neither of them pushes the other unless it is to grow and heal.

This book is about healing and overcoming. All the characters go through hardships, but they all grow through them. Iori especially has such wonderful growth, you can’t help rooting for him and his cat ears. It is clear that Iori struggles with his past, but it is handled really well and in an interesting way (because it has to do with the fantasy aspect), and as it goes on he overcomes so much. The character growth and healing are so comforting and it makes you love the characters even more!

Summing it all up

Bloody Spade was a really fun adventure with well-thought-out magic and incredibly lovable characters. It was so comforting to read about the character’s growth and healing, all through a fun and action-packed book. Definitely a hidden gem!

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About the Author

Brittany M. Willows is a bisexual/gray-asexual author and digital artist living in rural Ontario, Canada. Inspired initially by video games and the stories they told, she began building her own fictional universes and has no plans of stopping any time soon. When she’s not writing about post-apocalyptic lands, wild magic, or people gallivanting through the stars, she can be found hunched over a tablet drawing the very same things.


Let’s chat!

✨ What are other books that really dive into a theme (like this one dives into a deck of cards)?
✨ What was the last self-published book you read?
✨ What book has your favorite magic system?

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Want More Diverse Book Recommendations?

Check out the rest of my blog! I’m dedicated to sharing books with you that include diversity, so feel comfortable that any books on Bookish Brews will include some diversity.

If you liked this review or thought you might like this book, check out some of my other reviews for books with similar fun, action-packed, magic-filled reads:


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A new self published gem!? Everyone should read this! It sounds so good!!!

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*I received this book for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*