"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!
– Tracy Deonn, New York Times bestselling author of LEGENDBORN
"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 makes Blood Like Magic unputdownable. Liselle Sambury left me with a massive book hangover that won’t be cured until I get the sequel!"
– Aiden Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Cemetery Boys
A Black teenager faces a difficult choice to bring about her magical awakening.
Voya Thomas is a 16-year-old Black Canadian girl with Trinidadian roots—and a fledgling witch. Her ascension to becoming a proper witch is dependent on her performance at her Calling. Every witch-to-be is assigned a test by one of their ancestors, and if they are successful, they receive their magic and the specially chosen gift of an ability. Refusing to accept the task means no future members of Voya’s bloodline will be Called by the ancestors and therefore can never become witches; accepting but failing the challenge set for her will cause every witch in her family to lose the magic upon which their livelihood depends. During the ritual, Voya finds out that the stakes for her Calling are even steeper than she could have imagined: Before the Caribana carnival in a month’s time, she must kill her first love. But Voya has never been in love, so she must now find someone, fall in love, and then sacrifice him. Sambury’s prose is fluid and eloquent and will enthrall readers. 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. (Fantasy. 14-18)
– STARRED Kirkus review of BLOOD LIKE MAGIC, April 15, 2021
Afro-futurism meets urban fantasy in this strong YA debut. Descended from a long line of powerful Black witches and having just started her Bleeding, 16-year-old Voya Thomas anxiously plans for the Calling that will follow, an ancestor-given trial that she must pass in order to inherit magic. A Thomas hasn’t failed in 100 years, but Voya worries nonetheless. To pass a Calling, one must make the correct choice between two decisions—something Voya has notorious difficulty with. Her concerns threaten to become reality when she receives the most impossible task ever known to witches, one with equally unheard of consequences: if Voya does not destroy her first love in one month, all current and future Thomases will lose their magic. Voya’s one desire is to help her family, but she’s never been in love, and she doesn’t want to take a life. As her family tries to find loopholes around committing murder, Voya stumbles across an ancestor she’s never heard of, whom the adults insist on pretending doesn’t exist. Sambury blends technology and fantasy to create a detailed world that’s both futuristic and magical. 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. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kristy Hunter, the Knight Agency. (June)
– STARRED Publishers Weekly review of BLOOD LIKE MAGIC, April 26, 2021
In Sambury's downright dazzling debut, Voya has finally started menstruating, which means she's ready to come into her family’s magic and receive her gift from her family’s ancestors. To receive this gift, each witch needs to complete a task given to them by an ancestor, and failing is not an option. To Voya’s misfortune, Mama Jova, who suffered at the hands of slavery, imparts her task: to echo the family’s mantra of “suffer and survive,” Voya is instructed to destroy her first love or risk losing her family forever. This engrossing novel features a world both familiar and unfamiliar, in a near-future Toronto. Sambury vividly captures the vibrancy of Toronto as well as the diversity within the witch community, and her dedication to world building lends authenticity to her characters. Family and heritage are two important themes, demonstrated powerfully in the novel's descriptions of history keeping, food, and daily family life. 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.
– STARRED Booklist review of BLOOD LIKE MAGIC, June 1, 2021
A Black teenage witch deals with the fallout of past choices while trying to prevent future destruction.
Voya is facing the aftermath of the tough choices she made in Blood Like Magic (2021) in order to pass her Calling and acquire magical powers. Having received two gifts, Voya is now the youngest Matriarch ever to be crowned in her family. She finds that she has much to do to earn the respect of those around her—and possibly even those who came before her, since her ancestors have not answered any of her calls for guidance. The recent death of her grandmother—her family’s previous Matriarch—has caused new intrafamilial strain and enhanced existing stressors. Not only that, but Justin Tremblay, renowned tech magnate and sponsor father of Luc, Voya’s first love, is presumed dead, and Luc thinks Voya is responsible. As if her plate weren’t full enough, Voya experiences a vision that shows her the potential annihilation of her family and the wider Black witch community in Toronto. Now, to try and prevent the devastating future she foresaw, she has to work to overcome her insecurities as a Matriarch and convince the elders who also lack faith in her to unite. Thanks to Sambury’s fluid writing style and well-established storyline and characters, readers will easily be able to follow Voya and other supporting characters as their lives and challenges become more complicated.
A worthy follow-up to a stellar debut.
– Kirkus Reviews, 6/15/22