Time for my tour stop with MTMC Tours to talk about Bloody Spade by Brittany M. Willows!
Get ready for magic, sass, chaos and disaster teens who maybe are saving or breaking the world 😍🙌🏻 They don’t know yet. A surprise for us ALL. I was so excited to dive into Bloody Spade (side note: absolutely love the author’s art too; it’s so cute and made me fall even more in love with the characters) and the story turned out to be jam-packed with loveable characters and epic magic. It’s definitely perfect for readers who love superhero-style novels with X-Men team vibes, magic schools, and a cast that’s effortlessly diverse and dynamic. We’ve got your tragic backstories and loveable rouges right here!!
The magic system is really unique and complex! A lot of it is themed around cards, which felt so fun. Cardplay, Jokers, Blackjacks, etc. There are four people with special powers, Diamond, Hearts, Clubs and Spades. But plenty of characters have magic aside from that, and there’s corrupt magic, and a complex history of power disappearing and returning to the world. It’s also an urban fantasy world, and I loved that it was queer-inclusive.
Okay my FAVOURITE THING were the characters!! There are three main narrators (Iori, Ellen and Alexander — plus an occasionally 4th POV that’s probably best left secret for now 👀) and a ton of amazing secondary characters. It’s also got found-family vibes 🥺 and a gentle, tentative romance. The story takes time to talk about trauma responses and therapy too, instead of just leaving these kids to internalise everything and combust.
- Iori Ryone – an instant favourite, I mean come on, he is a sassy thief on the run, stuffed with corrupt magic and a tragic past, has cat ears and a tail, is pansexual, and he’s super powerful but also is a traumatised disaster who jokes through his pain. He totally thinks he’s invincible (he is not 😪) and when help is offered, he runs. IORI 🥺💛 All his chapters were my favourite and I loved his arc!! Learning to accept not everyone is the enemy and then showing his softer side.
- Ellen Amelia Jane – Okay she is so nice. She has a very unique power that she’s meant to keep hidden in case someone forces her to use it badly, but she’s just NICE to everyone. And like if she sees a stray cat (cough, Iori) she’s gonna keep it and tend to its wounds. She’s also asexual!
- Alexander Jane – He’s Ellen’s older brother and while Ellen is dealing with the loss of their parents, he’s actually internalised so so much rage. Even though he is the school’s “golden boy” of pyro powers, he’s interanlly dealing with a lot of anger. He does act like he’s the most hurt person in the room, and his bullheadedness made me mad, but he also has one of the best character arcs in the book. (His and Iori’s insta-hate-relationship was 😂 so fun. When Ellen was like, “Iori flirts with everyone” and one of the secondary characters was like “Actually no, he just flirts with you and Alexander in a homoerotic hateship”, well, I CACKLED.) Also Alex is aromantic so it was like, two aspec siblings?!!? My ace heart is so happy.
It’s got action, evil villains, betrayals, kidnapping, and plenty of twists. I also loved the different variety of powers; so fun to read. There are training scenes as Iori learns to stop being a self-combusting-bomb. And there are dark scenes that— 👀👌🏻 well, no spoilers. But the villains are evil. If you like books like The Extraordinaries and Cute Mutants, this one will definitely make your heart happy.
A magical explosion of dark magic, tragedy, hope, and found family — this is a story full of characters you’ll want to protect and secrets you’ll want answers for.
Head over to my instagram for the intl giveaway for a digital copies of Bloody Spade!
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.
Brittany M. Willows is a bisexual/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. To keep up with the latest news regarding both current and future stories, and to find out more about Brittany or to delve deeper into the worlds she has created, check out the links below! She can also be contacted directly via these platforms.
Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter
Hi, thanks for having me! It’s actually been a very long journey for this story. Twelve years as of the release date, in fact (created the story and Iori on September 15th 2009, published September 15th 2021. I was very attached to my release date for that reason, haha). The project began life as an idea for a manga. I even bought Manga Studio and wrote up a 93,000-word script for it. Creating a manga turned out to be a much larger undertaking than fifteen-year-old me had anticipated, though, and I never completed the first page.
So, I learned manga/comics weren’t for me. But I still very much enjoyed writing.
I shifted gears in 2011, shelved Bloody Spade and went to work on The Calypsis Project (the space opera about a galactic war between humans and aliens that would become my debut duology). Then in 2018, with the TCP duology wrapped and me in a writing slump, I made the decision to revive Bloody Spade and turn it into a novel. I spent the next few months tinkering with the world and the characters, jotting down bits and pieces here and there, and finally started drafting in the summer of 2019. Fastest draft I ever wrote (just shy of two months)! To be fair, it was a very messy zero draft written in a stream-of-consciousness present-tense summary style. But, still.
The next year and a half or so was spent revising it, then it was off to beta readers—and that was a wild thing, finally getting to share this story that had lived almost solely in my head for so many years with other people!
And now of course I’m here and the book is done and out and being read by more people than my younger self ever imagined it would be. It’s a really cool feeling, and I’m so happy I decided to breathe new life into this project when I did. This story is super important to me, and it means so much to see other people genuinely enjoying it and connecting with the characters <3
Thank you! Drawing definitely comes first (and was my first passion before writing). I’ve always been a very visual person, and while I do see my characters and worlds in vivid detail in my mind, I do find that by drawing the characters on paper (or rather these days, a digital canvas), and actually being able to see them in front of me does help to develop them.
Zero drafting, I think! It’s the easiest part of process and I mostly just get to let the little movie of the story play out in my head while I’m laying all the details out on the page (meanwhile, the first couple rounds of revision are really tough on me because I’m super slow when it comes to the actual prose and making things sound nice. I do still enjoy that part in a way, though, despite what my yelling and whining on social media would have you think while I’m in the depths of the revision cave).
I’m a massive sucker for the hurt/comfort trope, so every single hurt/comfort scene I had in mind was definitely something I was looking forward to (unlike the battle scenes, which are the literal bane of my writerly existence). There’s just something about one character delicately tending to the wounds, physical or emotional, of another character that tugs at my heart in the most satisfying way. *chef’s kiss*
Certainly! So, one fun fact I like to share about Iori is that he began life as a Vocaloid fan character, which is why his surname ends in “ne,” following the naming style of all the established Vocaloid characters (“Ryone” specifically comes from merging the Japanese words for “dragon” and “sound”). I’d intended to use him in a written role-playing game on a forum site I used to frequent, but on the same day, his existence sparked the idea for Bloody Spade and he was a Vocaloid FC no more!
Ellen meanwhile was born out of a simple love for red-eyed, white-haired, scythe-wielding anime girls, and I actually created both her and her brother before Iori! They were created earlier in the summer of 2009, but I had no home for them until Bloody Spade came about a couple months later.
Additional fun facts: Iori hates cucumbers, loves napping in the sun, and likes to be up high (yes, these are all cat references); and Ellen loves strawberries, baking, and always cries at those heartwarming animal rescue videos. Or videos of baby animals. Or anything overpoweringly cute, really (she is the biggest crybaby).
Haha, if by “harmed” you mean thoroughly devoured, then yes, absolutely! Much chocolate was harmed in the making of this novel (and is currently being harmed as I continue chipping away at revisions for the sequel).
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