Reviews of Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like Magic

Book 1

by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury X
Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2021, 496 pages

    Paperback:
    Jul 2022, 512 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Althea Draper
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About this Book

Book Summary

A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family's magic. The problem is, she's never been in love - she'll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn't expect was to fail. When Voya's ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family's magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she'll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn't count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she'll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.

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 ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

From the start of this debut novel, Sambury's excellent world-building is apparent. The book blends urban fantasy seamlessly into a sci-fi Toronto of the not-too-distant future — complete with technology like chips that allow people to read text messages as they flash before their eyes — and adds a dash of suspense. The futuristic setting is made even more interesting when combined with the role that family and ancestry play. While the plot makes for an exciting and high-stakes story, the reader is not given a whole lot in the way of plot development during the first half of the book beyond the idea that Voya must kill her first love, along with information dropped about a mysteriously missing witch. This can create the feeling of having to slog through the first two hundred pages. However, at the halfway mark, the story amps up...continued

Full Review (719 words).

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(Reviewed by Althea Draper).

Media Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
While this urban fantasy takes place in the near future, Sambury does not turn a blind eye to the persistent history of systemic racism against Black people, the evils of slavery, or police brutality targeting Black people, nor how those impact the Black community on a daily basis, all while keeping magic compellingly at the forefront. This impressive debut will wow readers and leave them eager for more from this writer to watch.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The protagonist's voice feels refreshingly authentic, and the supporting characters are diverse and multidimensional, with well-developed relationships. Sensitive topics and themes, like slavery and racism, emerge in the novel's original and compelling storylines. A breath of fresh air for the genre; readers will be spellbound.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Afro-futurism meets urban fantasy in this strong YA debut...Featuring a cast of BIPOC and queer characters of all ages, this novel focuses on familial love, individual desires, and making choices that will lead to the greatest good.

Author Blurb Aiden Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Cemetery Boys
With high stakes, big heart, and lots of Black Girl Magic, Blood Like Magic is everything you love about paranormal fantasy. The fast pace, painfully relatable characters, and incredible generational magic system make Blood Like Magic unputdownable. Liselle Sambury left me with a massive book hangover that won't be cured until I get the sequel!

Author Blurb Tracy Deonn, New York Times bestselling author of Legendborn
Liselle Sambury builds a world not far from our own, where blood is both weapon and salvation. Blood Like Magic is an intoxicating, skillful blend of science fiction and fantasy that reads like an enthralling dream. Poignant, smart, and wholly unique. An ode to the spirits of Black women, this novel demands that the future never forget the enduring power of family or the long, sharp blade of history. A bold, magical debut full of heart, and an author to watch!

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Beyond the Book

Young Adult Fantasy Novels Featuring Black Girls

An exciting addition to young adult fantasy, Liselle Sambury's Blood Like Magic is a thrilling story of a Black teenage girl discovering her magical powers in a genre that has been disproportionately filled with white main characters for a long time. There are now plenty of fantastic young adult books out there where Black girls are no longer relegated to being side characters and are instead able to flourish in their own magical ways.

Young Adult Fantasy Novels Featuring Black Girls

One of the leaders in this new wave of YA fantasy is Tomi Adeyemi, and it would be remiss to create this list without mentioning her well-loved debut novel, Children of Blood and Bone. Taking inspiration from West African mythology, the book is an action-packed story following Zélie — a maji...

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