Title: Blood Like Magic
Author: Liselle Sambury
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Review Copy: Copy provided by Publisher
Availability: Available now
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.
Review: I’ve struggled with what I wanted to write about Liselle Sambury’s debut because she took a number of risks with this book that worked and didn’t work for me. The concept of the book is so original, so refreshing, was unique tale of magic, and the world building was impressive that I enjoyed 95% of the book. I was really into the story, the characters, and the mystery that Voya was trying to solve, but there were just one element of the novel that made me uncomfortable and that was how blood was used to create magic. I’m personally squeamish with blood and (TW) cutting and the fact that in order for magic to be used a blood sacrifice (something as small as a cut) was given really made me shiver repeatedly throughout the book which hampered my enjoyment. I’m not writing this to dissuade folks from the book, just if you are squeamish like me, be warned that you might be uncomfortable some of the time.
As I said in my previous paragraph the world building that Sambury did really brought Voya’s world alive. The novel is set in a future Toronto and the society is a bleak future that could become a possibility if we do not change society’s current trajectory. On the other hand, the technology that Sambury created for the world is amazing and is another possibility for our world if we continue on the current trajectory. This duality of the worlds is what I liked about the book. It was an acknowledgement of how technology can help and harm at the same time and I appreciated the social commentary the novel brings. At the same time, Voya’s interactions with her family, the love she had for them and they all had for each other, brought a sense of warmth to the novel. Voya is given an impossible task and I was actually so angry for her because the emotional turmoil she experienced was devastating. However as the pressure to make her choice grew, Voya really grew to understand her personal strengths and allowed her to make her decision (which I both loved and hated at the same time because it was not a happy outcome). I really connected to Voya as she was a teen with all the many insecurities being the baby of a family, and one with a legacy as hers, faces and yet she learned from her family to really know who she is and how powerful she truly is.
Overall, Blood Like Magic was a compelling story that draws you in with a unique, but realistic world, wonderful characters who you will love (and some you will hate), but really remind you about the importance of family.