- Title: Red Blood (Card Holders Book 1)
- Author: Kaitlyn Legaspi
- Publisher: Self Published on February 19, 2021
- Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
- Pages: 368
- Formats Available: Paperback & Digital
- Rating: 5/5
Trigger Warnings: Violence, Murder, Arson
Many thanks to Kaitlyn Legaspi for providing me with a digital copy of Red Blood with a request for an honest review.
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Red Blood Blurb
In the fifty-two domains, there exists two groups of people: The bound and unbound, those without powers and those with them. Only the unbound can hold the highest positions in the government: The Card Holders.
When her domain’s Card Holder dies, seventeen-year-old Neela Blydes is forced to participate in a tournament to find the unbound most worthy of leading the Queen of Hearts Domain. But the tournament isn’t as glorious as it seems. It herds unique unbound known as Specialists into deadly combat. Winning by default is nonexistent and killing is permitted.
As Neela progresses through the first few rounds, she realizes the tournament is just one of her worries. The burn scar on her left shoulder suddenly flares up at random times, an elite assassin marks her as his next target, and a frightening connection to the murderous rogue organization comes to light. While trying to deal with all these stresses weighing on her shoulders, one more appears in the form of a white-haired man with crimson eyes.
Dangerously familiar crimson eyes.Provided by the Author for Review Use
Kaitlyn Legaspi delivers an exciting new world full of magic and intrigue in her novel, Red Blood. This book is just the beginning of Legaspi’s new Card Holders series. So far, the magical world is impressive. I am looking forward to reading the next installment coming in the spring of 2022.
Neela Blydes is a champion of the Queen of Heart’s slums. As a vigilante, she takes on criminals and police alike. Neela is unique because of her unbound powers. She is a Specialist, meaning she wields two types of magic, which make her eligible to become the next ruler of the domain. She does this by winning a big tournament in the Core against other Specialists. After meeting her trainer, Neela comes to grips with her new reality. In the Core, she meets many people who either want to kill her or protect her.
I fell in love with the sassmaster, Neela, right away. The compassion she shows for everyone makes her charming. Being a raging badass helps too. I love the relationship she has with her brother Jaycen. They are protective of each other, and neither stays angry for long. They know each other too well. The introduction of Brochan, Lily, and Will into their lives makes them a little family. A family that each of them needs in different ways. The connection between these five characters makes my heart sing.
Now, on the other side of that coin are the baddies trying to hurt Neela. Chaes Galway is an assassin intent on killing Neela for the simple reason of trying to be a friend to his brother. This guy’s brain twists in ways I can’t even explain. Then there is Redd Ember, who has ties to Neela’s childhood. This guy is the epitome of creepy. I’m interested to see how Redd’s involvement with Neela’s biological family plays out. That is a mystery I can’t wait to see solved.
I am still on the fence about Amil. He shows all the signs of being an outstanding friend to Neela, but I think he is too good to be true. I have an intense feeling that he has a connection to Redd. Though there is nothing written that would lead me to this scenario, I have an extensive knot in my gut about him. As much as Amil hates his brother, I can see him hooking up with Redd’s organization to get back at the family he loathes. This theory is all conjecture, of course.
The Queen of Hearts domain is an excellent setting. I find it interesting to have an entire world built on the backs of playing cards. If there were one area where I would make improvements, it would be to tell more about how this world works. How did it come to be? The roads on the way to the Core are terrible and full of holes. How did they get that way? Was there a war? Tell me more.
Even with the lack of details about the domains, I still enjoyed this book. I was nervous about reading after I saw the cover because it looks like a manga drawing. But, the story is incredible. There are several plot lines to follow, but not so many that you can’t keep up. I hope that there is more coverage of the tournament battles coming up. Now that they are down to the final 32 contestants, it’s going to be exciting. I must warn you that tissues should be close by while reading. There are a few heartwrenching parts that tore me up inside.
I am pleased to award Red Blood a full 5 out of 5 stars. This novel is the perfect setup to whet readers’ appetites for more. Now, I am ready for some juicy stuff to come out in the next book. If you love a good urban fantasy, I recommend this series. It is good stuff.
About the Author – Kaitlyn Legaspi
Kaitlyn Legaspi is the self-published author of the Dark Irregular Trilogy, a young adult fantasy trilogy she wrote in middle school. Writing passionately on a daily basis, she plans on adding more to her repertoire in the near future. Now a third-year business undergraduate student at the University of Florida, in addition to writing, Kaitlyn enjoys singing, studying in the nearby boba tea shop, and reading whatever has caught her interest. Currently, she is working on publishing the second book of her Card Holders series, Two More Lives.