A huge thank you to the author, Brittany M. Willows, for providing an advanced digital copy of Bleeding Heart (The Cardplay Duology #2) for review.
After absolutely inhaling Bloody Spade, the action-packed start to The Cardplay Duology, I was counting down the days until the final installment, Bleeding Heart, was in my hands. Let’s just say this conclusion lived up to all my expectations.
In 2021, I was lucky enough to read and review an advanced copy of Bloody Spade, an anime-inspired novel and introduction to The Cardplay Duology. It wound up being one of my favorite books of the entire year! Since then, I’ve been greatly looking forward to the moment I got to pick up the sequel. When Brittany reached out and offered an ARC of Bleeding Heart, I had to muffle screams of delight (to avoid scaring my cat) as I eagerly accepted. Duologies haven’t always wowed me because I frequently find that it’s tough to pack so much story into just two books. However, that wasn’t the case at all with The Cardplay Duology.
This epic conclusion completely blew me away. It kept the same vibes as the first book, while creating more depth and character development that just made me fall in love with the story even more. It’s truthfully a shame that there aren’t more people talking about this series because it deserves all the love! Bleeding Heart is everything I wanted in a duology finale and I certainly hope that with this review, I can convince you to read it as well!
I have to laugh a little bit because as I was preparing to write this post, I looked back at my review for Bloody Spade and saw that I had used the same rollercoaster comparison. Keep reading to find out how I made that totally overused (by me) description a little more interesting. Bleeding Heart, the final installment in The Cardplay Duology, hit shelves on May 11, 2023. Make sure to pick up your copy – as well as a copy of Bloody Spade if you haven’t read it yet – to enjoy today!
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My honest review of Bleeding Heart by Brittany M. Willows.
Spade, Heart, Diamond, Club.
Four legendary Suits.
Four chosen Keepers.
One world at stake.
When hell breaks loose, who will be holding all the cards?
After a valiant rescue mission saw to the end of the criminal organization Blackjack, Cardplay has taken advantage of the relative peace following their victory to recuperate. However, no news isn’t necessarily good news.
Two Blackjack operatives are still at large, presumed to have fled with the Warden of the Void and their unmasked leader to his estate in the cliffs—well out of Cardplay’s reach, and safe behind a wall of deceit and strategically-lined pockets. To make matters worse, a revelation about the identity of the Heart’s Keeper has everyone walking on eggshells.
All that stands between the mundane world and untold chaos is a single unbroken seal. One mistake and the futures, dreams, second chances, and fresh starts they’ve all been working towards could be ripped away.
The magical era was lost once already.
Is it doomed to be lost again?
Bleeding Heart is the final installment in the Cardplay Duology, an anime-inspired YA urban fantasy series that follows four young adults imbued with extraordinary power as they navigate a world where magic has come roaring back from myth to reality.
Content Warnings (provided by the author): coarse language, blood and violence, some gore, moments of graphic violence, on-page character death, mild sexual content, body horror, eye trauma, vomiting, grief/bereavement, anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks, trauma related to kidnapping/physical abuse, parent death (mentioned), car accident (mentioned)
I’m completely aware that using the rollercoaster comparison is overdone and mildly cliche, BUT I think it’s a great way to go about describing this book. And I’m not going to just say “It was like a rollercoaster.” No. This book was like getting on the tallest, most twisty rollercoaster at the park. Let me explain…
You know how you have to grip your seat during the climb up to the first drop? It’s a slow build. That’s what the beginning of this book was like. It picked up immediately following the events of Bloody Spade and took its time reintroducing you to the characters you already know, getting you acquainted with the ones who were new, and building on the already existing relationships.
There were elements to the magic system that were explained in ways that hadn’t been touched on before, which I loved. While it might have been a slower ride to the top of the coaster, it was anything but boring. You could see the scenery around you and anticipate what might be coming.
Then, you reach the top and while you might have been prepared for the first drop (I’m looking at Iori and some of the events that take place with his character during the festival), you certainly aren’t expecting the way the rollercoaster immediately does a loop upon reaching the bottom… and then another loop, twist, and turn after that. This is where things began to get incredibly interesting and I couldn’t put it down!
rollercoaster book made me want to scream, throw my hands in the air, and maybe weep a little bit a few times. It was an absolutely wonderful sequel to Bloody Spade, it gave me everything I wanted with each of the characters, there was so much incredible magic, and I just loved it. If you’ve ever played the Persona video games, you might love this a little extra. It gave me those vibes, but better because it was way more in-depth and gave way more information about what was taking place.
I think I said it before with the first book, but this would make an absolutely phenomenal anime (and now, I think it would be an incredible video game as well)! I truly look forward to reading the entire duology again in the future. It was fantastic, adventurous, heartwarming, and just plain FUN. It deserves a round of applause upon reaching the end of that wild rollercoaster ride.