Excerpt from Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Blood Like Magic

Book 1

by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury X
Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
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  • Published:
    Jun 2021, 496 pages

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Althea Draper
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Print Excerpt

I stare at myself in the mirror, finger curling the odd piece of hair into a springy twist.

When I asked my cousins what the ancestors who Called them gave as a choice for tasks, they were all different. Papa Ulwe had Keisha watch two identical ancestors he brought along from beyond the grave named Sara and Sue for five minutes. She closed her eyes while they mixed themselves up, and she had to choose which one was Sue. Keisha's always been unnervingly intuitive, so it worked out for her. And she ended up with a gift along the same lines, specific and uncomfortable intuition.

Mama Deirdre laid out a dozen outfits and demanded that Alex choose the perfect one for her. My cousin, in a move that is so her, decided that none of the clothes were good enough and sewed something brand-new for Mama Deirdre, who, of course, adored it.

Mama Nora bombarded Keis with the memories of ten ances- tors and told her to choose the single false one or be forever trapped in their minds until her body died. Her Calling didn't fol- low the rules and had higher stakes than it should have. It was unpredictable in a way that's terrifying.

Because that's the thing about a Calling: it depends on what ancestor you get. Whoever Calls me will not only set my task, they'll also decide what gift to give me at the Pass ceremony once my Calling is complete. One ancestor will choose me based on whatever secret system they use, though some people say they pick descendants who are similar to them or who they feel pre- pared to help in some way. However they decide to pick me, I'll be thrown into a Calling inside my head that I'll need to pass. Some- times the transition from real life into your Calling is so seam- less that witches don't even realize it's happening. I'm not sure if that would make things better or worse for me. On one hand, I wouldn't have to think about it so much, but on the other, I could fail with almost no effort.

No matter what ancestor I get, no matter how they choose to do my Calling, it's supposed to be a simple choice between two options. If I pick right, I get magic, and if I don't, then I'll never get to be a witch.

But what if I get an ancestor who changes the rules like Mama Nora did for Keis? One who wants to up the stakes. The tasks they give are meant to help us become the best version of ourselves. Though sometimes I think they just like messing with us.

The afterlife must be boring.

"Maybe I'll be lucky and get Mama Lizzie for my Calling," I say. She was a baker from Alabama who gathered a bunch of other women in the area to help feed people in the march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights. Her Callings usually involve spending hours baking something and deciding who to give it away to—the answer always being someone in need. A task so easy that it would be impossible to fail.

Keis shakes her head. "Mama Lizzie has the easiest Callings in the world. You don't want her. Harder Callings mean better gifts."

"I feel like that's a myth."

"It's not!"

I scowl and tuck my towel tighter. "Let's go find a suitable dress that Uncle won't like."

My Bleeding is officially over. There's no more stalling now.

No one in our family has failed a Calling in almost a hundred years.

A Thomas not getting magic has become something so rare it seems impossible to do.

But then again, I don't think the ancestors have ever seen someone as apt at failure as I am.

  • 1

Excerpted from Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury. Copyright © 2021 by Liselle Sambury. Excerpted by permission of Margaret K. McElderry Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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