There are two kinds of people in this world: the bound and unbound.
The unbound are born with unnatural, inhuman abilities.
While having powers may come with its perks, to be unbound is to be cursed.
Unbound individuals are treated as freaks, yet despite this, they hold the highest positions in the government: the Card Holders of the fifty-two domains.
When her domain’s Card Holder dies, unbound 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’s a tournament that herds unique unbound called Specialists into deadly combat, a tournament where winning by default is nonexistent and killing is permitted.
As Neela progresses through the rounds with her life on the line, she forges new alliances and encounters dangerous unbound adversaries. Among them is a white-haired man with crimson eyes.
Dangerously familiar crimson eyes.
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I was interested in Neela’s story pretty early on. The 52 domain world sounded very intriguing and I was hooked.
In this world, unbound people have powers and abilities like super strength, super speed and manipulating elements like fire, for example. However, the unbound are considered cursed and are hunted in their society. Still, when the domain’s Card Holder dies, the unbound are forced to participate in a tournament, where killing is permitted, to find the next Card Holder in the Queen of Hearts domain.
The world was pretty unique and it intrigued me. In my opinion there wasn’t enough word building yet, but I hope it’ll be more development in the next book. I couldn’t quite figure out the hierarchy of this unique society considering the different domains, the cardholders, the assassins and the bound vs unbound.
Neela was an interesting main character, I enjoyed the fact that she was street smart but still maintained a level of ingenuity. I liked her strong personality and her irreverence. Sometimes, I struggled with some of her inner thoughts, it felt a little repetitive to be in her head.
I enjoyed Amil, he was a very funny, sweet, multi-layered character and I wished we had his POV along with Neela’s, and I liked Jacen, Neela’s brother too.
Regarding the characters, I think the relationships between Neela, Brochan and Brochan’s relatives developed a little too fast considering Neela’s personality and experience in this world (being a vigilante, hiding her identity, being hunted, etc).
I really liked the mystery about what happened in Neela’s past, I think that was my favorite part of the plot. I also enjoyed the tournament setting, but it bothered me the lack of training at the beginning of it. At times the tournament didn’t feel as important as it was, because Neela was off doing other minor stuff which led to a lack of build up to certain events, including tournament fights. I’m very interested to see how using the cards will influence a real fight.
Overall, it was an entertaining story set in a very, very interesting and intriguing world.
Kaitlyn Legaspi is the self-published author of young adult fantasy trilogy, the Dark Irregular Trilogy. She published the first book of her new Card Holders series, in February 2021.