[Blog Tour] Review: Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Hello everyone! Welcome to half of my tour stop for Blood Like Magic! The other half is a letter to the main character Voya, which you can read by clicking here. Sorry for posting it a bit late as life suddenly got in the way.

Thank you again to the wonderful TBR and Beyond Tours for another opportunity to work with you. Don’t miss out on the rest of the tour by checking out the schedule!

Publication Information

About the Book

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.

On-page representation: author of color (Trinidadian Canadian), Black-led cast, Canadian diaspora representation (Trinidadian American Canadian main characters, Chinese Canadian side characters, Mexican Canadian), LGBT representation (transgender love interest, transgender side character)

Content/trigger warnings: whipping scene within the context of slavery, gun/police violence, discussion of and character with an eating disorder, blood/gore/violence, death, substance abuse/addiction, mentions of child neglect


Review

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) on Netgalley from the publisher and TBR and Beyond Tours as part of my participation in this blog tour. This does not affect my review.

Are you in the mood to read about a Black witch family? in an urban setting? in the future? Blood Like Magic has all three, and it melds all of these concepts together in an awesome fusion of genres I have never seen before in YA books.

The protagonist Voya Thomas is the next witch to be inducted into a rich tradition of blood magic, and getting her gifts, which are specific magical abilities, from her ancestors means completing a Task and gaining their approval. With it comes a whole host of problems and choices she never thought she would face, and the world she knows is hanging on her every move.

I love the way the author chose to frame this choice as something that is entirely inseparable from the systems that Voya is in. It is tied to her family, to their livelihood, to her identity, and even to the complex web of associations in the witch community. She is depicted as someone who is both a product of her upbringing and an active agent in her present, and joining her on the journey in realizing this is so raw and messy and vulnerable.

Related post: An open letter to Voya

I also love its spin on the ensemble cast. Instead of a squad that forms over a common mission, the book focuses on the Thomas household: a multi-generational family living under one roof. From the outside, the Thomases seem to be a pretty picture of a happy and tightly-knit clan, but the more time we spend with them, the more the hairline fissures in their dynamics crack and deepen into irreparable chasms. There are so many Thomases to keep track of, but it does not feel like a hard task when all of them have distinct voices and personalities. I love how no one in the family is shoehorned into archetypes; rather, we get characters who are as real, rounded, and flawed as humans are in real life.

The book also unapologetically reclaims several aspect of heritage and upbringing. Blood magic here is seen as sacred and noble, and practices that trace back to their African roots are not deemed barbaric. Regent Park is transformed into the technological hub of Canada, which is a far cry from the public’s current perception of the low-income neighborhood. It also discusses the complications of both honoring traditions and pushing the witch community evolve to fit the times–the pushback from the older generation, the secrets of the past, and the promise of the future. People, choices, and realities not seen before in other YA fantasy are welcome here in the world of Blood Like Magic, and they are also extended the same grace and critique afforded to other staple elements.

In addition, the opening scene alone sets the tone of how different this book aims to be. How many stories do you know start with a menstruation party? None that I know of, especially in fantasy. It is also interesting to know how inclusive it is, as it passes off Alex’s menarche experience as a trans woman as something normal and accepted in their world.

Blood Like Magic is the kind of book that does not fit any premade boxes available in publishing, whether in genre, character archetypes, or plot progression. I love it so much, and I can’t wait for the next book.


About the Authors

Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian-Canadian author who grew up in Toronto, and her brand of writing can be described as “messy Black girls in fantasy situations.” In her free time, she shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey througha YouTube channeldedicated to helping demystify the sometimes complicated business of being an author. She is represented by Kristy Hunter atThe Knight Agen

Author Platforms: Website || Twitter || Instagram || Goodreads


Let’s chat:

  • Have you read Blood Like Magic yet? Any thoughts?
  • I really love the genre fusion in this book! Do you have any recommendations for a similar vibe?
  • What’s your idea of “black girl magic”? Any recommendations for similar books?

6 thoughts on “[Blog Tour] Review: Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury”

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