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Blood Like Magic

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An 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.

496 pages, Hardcover

First published June 15, 2021

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About the author

Liselle Sambury

6 books936 followers
Liselle Sambury is the Trinidadian-Canadian author of the Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalist, Blood Like Magic. Her work spans multiple genres, from fantasy to sci-fi, horror, and more. In her free time, she shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to demystifying the sometimes complicated business of being an author.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,204 reviews
Profile Image for Liselle Sambury.
Author 6 books936 followers
June 6, 2022
The first and last time I shall be popping on here as the author because I do believe that Goodreads is for readers, but I wanted to say that I'm so excited for everyone to read BLOOD LIKE MAGIC. This is such a personal book for me incorporating some of my own family history, my Trinidadian and Canadian background, my city of Toronto, and an overall deep desire to see Black girls with magic in books.

Content 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.

As an added note, there are mentions of systems existing in the book which misgender trans people that is discussed by the characters.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,425 reviews9,009 followers
January 15, 2023
Dang, this was a good story!!! Wow!!


Voya Thomas is initially excited when she receives her Calling. It's a task each witch in her family must complete before they are able to come into their powers.

Each person's task is unique, as they are assigned by different ancestors. Over the years they've also varied in detail and difficulty.

The ancestor who assigns Voya's task, however, is known to be tough. As she should be; her life was extremely tough, parts of which are shown to Voya through visions.

After Voya fails, she is given an unprecedented second chance, but her task seems impossible. Not only does the task seem impossible, the stakes are higher than ever.

Generally, if a witch fails in her Calling, she doesn't gain her powers. Yeah, that sucks, but you can overcome that. You just have to live like any other person without magical abilities.

For Voya, if she fails, her entire family will lose their powers. Every single one of them! Their livelihoods are based on their powers, and most importantly, her little sister's life depends on their powers.

Her task is to destroy her first love. Problems with this include the fact that Voya has never been in love, not even close, and she's a little against killing someone.

The task seems clear, there is no way around it, so in order to save her family, Voya must make the ultimate decision. Can she take a life?

I loved this book from the very start. Sambury created such an intricate and addictive story with Blood Like Magic.

I absolutely adored the mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy elements. A lot of the story is based around a corporation that has created a genetic match-making program.

I love those sort of futuristic tech elements added to a story. They definitely make my nerd heart soar.

Additionally, I quickly became attached to Voya. She's a very likable character. She drew me in and had me feeling everything she was feeling.

The Thomas family is full of drama, but also love and support. Voya had many special connections within her family and I think those relationships provided her with the strength she needed to progress with her Calling.

The love interest, Luc, was fun to learn about as well. He's had an interesting life up until the time he meets Voya and is frequently misunderstood.

In Voya, he found someone he could open up to and share his deepest thoughts with. Watching their relationship evolve made me swoon. Somewhat enemies to lovers; so, if you're into that...

This did not end how I thought it would end and that's definitely a good thing. There were so many twists that I never could have predicted. My jaw spent the last quarter of the book on the floor!

I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. Liselle Sambury is amazing and I predict a long, successful career ahead of her.

I fully expect this will end up as one of my top books of the year. An absolutely phenomenal debut!

Profile Image for Angelica.
803 reviews1,001 followers
Want to read
September 3, 2020
witches? and murder? and Canada?????
Profile Image for Aiden Thomas.
Author 9 books6,425 followers
February 19, 2021
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!
Profile Image for tappkalina.
628 reviews383 followers
November 29, 2022
The best ya fantasy I've read in years along with A Dark and Hollow Star.

The world was so rich, and as a character driven reader I appreciated it very much how the side characters had so distinctive personalities and that they also had things to do with the plot, not just to be there for the sake of it.

I loved the family dynamic, the diversity, the mystery, the magic system, the romance that had it's own arc, wasn't insta love and still has a long way to go if they'll even end up together.
The best part maybe is that it was not as predictable as most ya books nowdays.
Oh, and the mc has the coolest name ever.

The first chapter was an absolute attention grabber, then for a few chapter it was slow even for me, but I wasn't mad, because I got to know the world and the characters better. For a plot driven reader it could be too slow, though.

Can't wait for the sequel.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
625 reviews1,686 followers
August 15, 2021
Woah, woah, WOAH. This is one of the most unique books that I've read - witches in a futuristic setting! - and it was - wow. I was captivated from start to finish. This is dark urban fantasy like I've never read before.

- Follows Voya, a Black-Canadian witch, who receives a task from her ancestor: destroy her first love or her whole family will lose their magic forever.
- I loved the blend of science-fiction elements with witches. The setting was incredibly unique, and the technology and where it will go was creative and fascinating, and the worldbuilding and magic system of witches was so intriguing and, sometimes, terrifying.
- This is a high-stakes story that builds slowly. And my goodness, it is good. It takes it time by weaving in several subplots, all coming together and culminating to what Voya does at the end of the book.
- This story has a huge emphasis on family - how families are often messy and dysfunctional and fight, but will ultimately be there for you. More though, it's also about how knowing our ancestors is power, community and belonging can also be power too.
- Voya was such a good protagonist. She's this teen, trying to figure out what she wants to do in such a challenging and conflicting situation. She's not perfect. She makes plenty of mistakes. But she's trying and doing her best and just wants to do the right thing. I loved her.

Content warning: whipping scene in 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

I received a digital advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Alicia.
104 reviews4 followers
July 22, 2021
uuuuugggghhhhh. i was going to give this 3 stars, i really was. but the last 80 pages propelled me onto another plane of existence and i have no clue what in the world i just read.

on the plus side, i think the concept for this book was really unique and the sci-fi and fantasy elements were combined in a really interesting way. the worldbuilding was very detailed and caribbean culture permeated every aspect of the story. i will say, though, i am pretty bummed about the fact that racism and transphobia seem to be at about the same level in 2050 as they are now. i liked the strong focus on family, and the relationships between voya and her relatives felt natural, but there were quite a lot of characters and different families to keep up with and i couldn’t always remember who was who. i was going to say that i enjoyed the romance and how naturally it progressed but. the ending kind of threw that to the wolves too.

my main issue with this book is that i have a big problem with what this book has to say about indecision. voya is described frequently as someone who struggles with making choices, but i don’t understand why it wasn’t just said that she has anxiety when she clearly does? she doesn’t have trouble making decisions because she’s lazy or she doesn’t care, she overthinks every possible outcome to the point where it paralyses her. that’s anxiety. which is why the task that she receives in order to receive her magic puts an extremely bad taste in my mouth. mama jova puts the fate of voya’s entire family in her hands to teach her a lesson about being able to make decisions??? she tells her her little sister will DIE and the rest of her family and their descendants will lose their magic if she doesn’t “destroy” someone she loves??? to show her the importance of??? not having anxiety??? i thought at some point the book would address how downright emotionally manipulative that is, but the ending paints it as a good teaching method so i guess that’s that.

and speaking of the ending… what???? huh???? i’ll be honest, i wasn’t exactly sure how voya was going to get out of such an impossible situation, but trapping her cousin in the house and cutting her off from the rest of the world for the rest of her life was not the solution i was expecting???? and she justifies this by saying that she had to destroy keis’ life over luc’s because she could find a way to build a better future for herself while luc couldn’t???? how exactly is she meant to do that if she can’t leave the house???? i liked luc, too, voya, but that decision makes absolutely no sense. i feel like i just read a villain origin story on accident because voya manages to imprison her favorite cousin, traumatize her little sister, break luc’s heart, get her grandma killed, save the bad guy (who is a literal eugenicist????) instead of just killing him, and essentially ruin her family’s business. but hey, she got her powers and she’s matriarch now, whoop de doo. what was the point of any of this, truly.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,897 reviews3,119 followers
June 19, 2021
4.5 stars rounded up

A couple of caveats before I get into the review. 1) I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher and 2) I'm friendly with the author through the internet and have met her. So I may be somewhat predisposed to feel favorably about the book, but I always try to be as honest as possible in my reviews and I think there's a lot to like here. Also, note that this can be read as a standalone and has a very satisfying conclusion!

Blood Like Magic is a debut YA novel that crosses genres in really interesting ways. Set in a future version of Toronto, it has some sci-fi elements to it, but it's also a fantasy with witches and magic. But also, it occasionally leans a bit into horror tropes. This follows a Black teen girl named Voya who comes from a family of witches. When they come of age, they gain magical abilities after completing a task set for them by their ancestors. Voya's family has troubles, but she's very close to them. She also has a really hard time making decisions and is unsure what she wants from her future. Her task? To find and destroy her first love.

While the early part of the book is a bit slow to get into, I hit a point about halfway where I COULD NOT put the book down. And may have stayed up til 1:30 am to finish it.... It becomes this very propulsive read and I was so invested in what decisions Voya would make and what family secrets we would uncover along the way.

It's dark and bloody with plenty of twists, some of which I saw coming, others I didn't. Ultimately it's a coming of age story about love, complicated families, sacrifice, and morality. There's a lot of casual queerness, including a trans love interest, a trans cousin, a queer cousin etc. There are conversations about the use of different pronouns and because it's set in the future with genetic id's, that raises some really interesting questions.

Liselle has created a possible future where things like racism, poverty, and homophobia are significantly better than they are now, but where there continue to be issues. There's a lot of nuance to how those things are handled. I thought she had some really ideas, for instance fighting gentrification by mandating a certain amount of low-income housing in every neighborhood.

Oh and the FOOD!!! This book made me so hungry. The main character has heritage from the Carribean and Louisiana, and she's into cooking. The descriptions of the recipes she makes are mouthwatering. But also this is a story with people who commit torture and murder (on page) to gain magical power. So you see the range of the book.

I think this is a very strong debut and I look forward to what more we get from Liselle in the future. I know she's working on a horror novel, and honestly reading this I'm not at all shocked.

Content warnings here are going to include lots of depictions of blood, gore, death, murder, death of an animal, loss of a loved one, discussions of racism and homophobia (challenged on page), probably others.
Profile Image for Darcey.
906 reviews193 followers
February 19, 2022
buddy read with cute little twitter/discord group thing

this was so, so good! i enjoyed it so much more than i expected - it was fun but a little dark, had an interesting magic system and sci-fi-ish technology, there was a fascinating mystery threaded through the overall storyline, and the romance (and lgbtq+ rep) was top notch.
it also left me craving the sequel, despite the lack of intense cliffhanger (such a nice change from most of the books i've been reading lately!), so i'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more of the author's books in the future!

when a book has a magic system revolving around blood, you know things are about to get hella gory, and i was not disappointed. i loved the concept of pure and impure magic and the idea of impure magic fueled by bloodshed requiring pure intent - it definitely led to some interesting debates on morality and the worth of a human life. i also really really loved all the trans rep, plus the other lgbtq+ rep like demisexuality and sapphics. plus the plot-twists that filled this book shook me to my core! definitely a must read.

so glad i read this!! highly recommended for YA fantasy lovers of all kinds :))
also thank you to Ash for buying this for me💜

disclaimer: i wrote this review at midnight so let's ignore any grammar and spelling issues for my own sake
Profile Image for Sara L..
262 reviews66 followers
July 12, 2021
★★★★★ 5/5

|Triggers- Blood, Gore, loss of a loved one, slavery, hate crimes, memory loss, addiction, racism, torture|

❞𝘿𝙤𝙣❜𝙩 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙡 𝙗𝙖𝙙 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙩𝙖𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙪𝙥 𝙨𝙥𝙖𝙘𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙗𝙤𝙙𝙮. 𝙋𝙚𝙤𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙡𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 𝙜𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙘𝙚 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙨𝙢𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙤 𝙛𝙞𝙩 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩.❞

Never have I ever read a book with this much diversity/ rep while being so fun and hilarious.

Set in future Toronto, 16-year-old Voya Thomas is waiting to receive magic. But she needs to have a calling and a task for that to happen. When she has finally received her task in her calling, she is faced with an impossible decision. And it is to destroy her first true love. Destroying her first true love would mean killing them but Voya is not a murderer. And her grandmother has worked hard for purity in their family. But if Voya does not destroy her first love, her step-sister is at risk of dying and the Thomas family will lose all the magic in their bloodline.

The plot was spectacular. I had so much fun and the pacing was excellent. Starting from the beginning the plot was executed perfectly. The more I think about it the more I love the way everything just fell into place and made complete and utter sense. This plot was so action-packed and hilarious. It kept me wanting to turn each page more and more. I actually couldn’t put this book down and I finished the last 60% in a matter of hours! /srs

As much as I loved the book, the writing wasn’t my favorite. I appreciated the author's sensitive and tentative writing when it came to serious discussions. But for me, the writing was simply acceptable. /gen

❞𝗪𝗲 𝘀𝘂𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗲 𝘀𝘂𝗿𝘃𝗶𝘃𝗲.❞

ℂ𝕙𝕒𝕣𝕒𝕔𝕥𝕖𝕣𝕤 & 𝔻𝕪𝕟𝕒𝕞𝕚𝕔𝕤
I grew so attached to all the characters. There were such good dynamics and relationships. There were also so many diverse characters with so much representation and connection. I just love and adore all the characters’ personalities (excluding Simon).

As the main character, I didn’t really feel so much for her. I just felt sympathetic for her and didn’t exactly like her circumstances but I sure did enjoy them! I usually feel some kind of weird connection with the main characters (whether like or dislike) because I’m in their head and seeing everything from their point of view. I didn’t feel that was Voya- whether it is because she annoyed me to some extent or I did not like what she chose at the very end. But her determination to help her family and the weight she has on her back were truly extraordinary. It took a while for Voya to understand what she wants and to understand and accept that not everything is about her family. But after that extraordinary journey, she made it to the end where she understands herself. So I loved the “finding yourself” part of this book. /lh

I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever been so uncertain about a character in my whole life! I don’t know whether I like him or dislike him or even if I think he’d be good with Voya. I was just satisfied with his side of the ending which I can’t say because of spoilers.

𝕋𝕙𝕖 𝕋𝕙𝕠𝕞𝕒𝕤’𝕤
This family was so connected that you’d think they were one. Family is obviously a big part of the plot. Even with their flaws and cracks, this family is amazing and I’d take them for myself if the family wasn’t irreplaceable and unique ;) /j

Umm. Cocky much. I don’t care if it’s in the name of science but you don’t have the right to do that.
So, the more we get into this book the clearer it is that Simon is the Villain and I absolutely hate him. He is not the kind of villain that some people would like (if you like him- do not speak to me). He had a good backstory for why and how he got to be that messed up, and I liked it. He is just awful and I can’t really say much more without giving away a spoiler so go ahead and read the book to find out why.

❞𝙄 𝙙𝙤𝙣❜𝙩 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙞𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙚𝙞𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧. 𝘽𝙪𝙩 𝙞𝙩 𝙙𝙤𝙚𝙨𝙣❜𝙩 𝙢𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧.
𝙄𝙩 𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙮 𝙘𝙝𝙤𝙞𝙘𝙚, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙄 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙢𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙞𝙩.
𝙎𝙤 𝙄 𝙙𝙤.❞

𝔽𝕚𝕟𝕒𝕝 𝕋𝕙𝕠𝕦𝕘𝕙𝕥𝕤
I really loved this book and I can’t wait for the next book in this series. I feel as though this series has so much potential so fingers crossed the next book comes out soon and it’s much better than this one (although I don’t really know how that could be possible) 🤞

Overall I recommend this book to all sci-fi fantasy lovers (check the triggers first) and I hope you end up picking this up because the boy was it worth it for me! As always I apologize if my review was offensive or disrespectful to you. And if so please let me know how I can fix that. Thank you for taking the time to read this review. /pc /lh

~Till Next Time!
📚 Ꮢҽαԃ σ⨍⨍ ɾҽαԃҽɾട! 📚

~A special thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book’s Release Date: June 15


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Profile Image for Maddie (Inking & Thinking).
165 reviews123 followers
July 14, 2021
⭐️ 4 Stars ⭐️

Blood like Magic was one of my highly anticipated releases of 2021, and let me say that it does not disappoint. I was afraid that this book would not be going to live up to my expectations, but I can gladly say that it does and even exceeds them!

Advertised as paranormal fantasy, I was not expecting all the science fiction aspects present, but it was a wonderful surprise. A combination of futuristic Toronto with highly advanced technologies and a splash of magic and a wide variety of witches. By combining the old, and the new into one comprehensive society creates an interesting dynamic of how the two worlds live as one. It’s a fascinating concept that I haven’t seen done before, and I can’t wait to get more of it in the sequel. Having it set in Toronto was a great choice on the author’s part because many YA books tend to take place in the UK or US, so it was nice to have a change of scenery. The worldbuilding was phenomenal and such a delight to read.

Magic, in this world, is a source of happiness but could also be seen as a curse. Many times in media, Magic is portrayed as a powerful source and that the user is lucky to have it. But here, we see magic gifts seen as weak and not that useful with the blend of powerful gifts possessed by other witches. We see the power imbalances between the Impure and Pure families that divide the community into two halves. Impure families use torture, and sacrifices to fuel their magic creating more powerful gifts, whereas the pure families do not partake in, leading to most of the time, weaker gifts. But what ultimately decides a witch’s gift are their ancestors, who will give them challenging tasks helping them to learn and grow, and if they pass, they receive their gift. The magic system in this world was enjoyable to read, full of mystery and delight that is sure to get you intrigued into the story.

The characters were so lovable, and I enjoyed them from the start. They each have personalities that make them different from one another. This book had great diversity and representation that many YA books sometimes lack. This book features black witches who all have their own culture and traditions. For example, Voya had a Trinidadian background which we would especially see when she would cook. The cast all included POC, which featured a wide array of representation. Many characters were LGBTQ+, and the main love interest was trans. The representation was great to see, and I appreciated it!

Voya was the perfect main character to follow in this story. Many times YA protagonists are painted to be these perfect humans that never make mistakes. But we know in life that nobody can do that, however hard they try to. Along the way, we see Voya make mistakes and struggling with try to make a decision. Many times she was indecisive wanting to do what was right for herself and her family. I could relate to that because sometimes it’s hard to decide because you want to make the right choice or things could end up badly. She makes many mistakes, but she doesn’t let that deter her from doing the right thing. Voya is imperfect, and this is the kind of protagonist we need in YA.

The romance was enjoyable and didn’t overtake the story. I was worried that since romance was a key aspect of the story that it would be the only thing that story was about. Rather, it enhanced the story and kept it entertaining. It was a clear enemy to lovers, which is one of my favorite tropes, and it was executed very well. I loved Voya and Luc as a couple, and their bantering was one of my favorite aspects of this book. Not only do we get a wonderful romance, but we also get to see Voya’s marvelous relationship with her family. The Thomases were one big team and were always there to do anything for one another. It was heartwarming to see, and I loved the emphasis on family.

I found the plot to be very funny and a wild ride. It was interesting, and I was never left bored. The pacing did lag sometimes due to the worldbuilding and building the complex world behind the story. I do feel like the plot could have been paced just a bit better, but other than that I don’t have anything else to say negatively about this book!

Overall, I had a great ride reading this book, and I would recommend reading this book once it comes out! A great cast of characters, fantastic worldbuilding, a powerful sense of family, and a fun romance; will sure have you enjoying this book.

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

Thank you, NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Check out my review on my blog: https://inkingandthinking.wordpress.c...
Profile Image for ☔️ lin chuchu ☔️ 林楚楚.
191 reviews82 followers
July 15, 2021
dnf 100 pages

yeah this was too boring for me. also cisnormative. it just seems like the author was really ignorant but had well intentions, which i will give kudos for. for instance, the love interest is a trans boy, but the main characters intentionally assigns gender to everyone she meets before thinking huh, maybe i should check their pronouns on their tags. nah though ill just wait to get corrected. and also, the ritual to become a witch is apparently your period. which is. strange. but you know what. whatever i guess. i wouldve continued this even with this because it really does seem like the author had good intentions but it got...really drab. i didn't care for the romance or the protagonist or any of the characters at all
Profile Image for ☀︎El In Oz☀︎.
484 reviews292 followers
October 19, 2021
DNF at 25%

Really good writing and world but it was too slow and bored me

Reminder that is book is out this year and is set in Canada with witches, blood magic, and romance 😌

Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
543 reviews3,548 followers
January 26, 2022

This was one of the most unique story I have read in a while, with a perfectly balanced blend of fantasy and science fiction that I would have never thought would work but somehow...did. Neither aspect ever overwhelmed the other, on the contrary, the author worked on making them complement each other. And succeeded at it. The technological elements were really cool. The magic system, and how it's ancestral and tied to someone's family, whether chosen or blood was really well done. How powers were passed down, all the rituals, etc...

But by far, what I loved by far about BLOOD LIKE MAGIC is its emphasis on family, and platonic family love. Which is something I rarely see done so deeply, and in a multigenerational way, in YA. I loved how it showed that families do not have to be perfect to love and be there for each other. They can be dysfunctional, have secrets, hurt each other in many ways while being well meaning, and yet would drop everything at the first sign of danger for each other. Voya's love and devotion to her family was heartwarming.

Voya was such an interesting character to follow. I felt empathetic to what she was going through and the way that was put on her teenage shoulders and couldn't help but grow to care for her. I loved how she wasn't perfect, made mistakes, and was so scared of the consequences of said mistakes that she made a reputation for herself for not being able to make a decision to save her life. And when the whole plot hinges on her making a decision, it only made it all the more complex and interesting to follow.

At its core this is a story about choices, their consequences and how in most instances in life there isn't really a perfect choice to make. The plot drove that point over and over again with the many sublots the author threaded together to make the bigger picture. I loved how events that were seemibly unrelated came to connect in such a clever way. It kept me on my toes and on the edge of my seat.
Profile Image for Jess - The Hexed Library.
717 reviews91 followers
June 22, 2021
5 Stars

Reading Vlog: https://youtu.be/aNf_yRqP9pQ

This book was so epically fantastic. I cried so much. I haven't felt personally attacked by a book this much in a long ass time. Like. It hurt me.

Here are the things you need to know. Liselle did a fantastic job of merging real world issues of today into what they might be in the future as well as adding in a magical society and new issues for that time period.

There's a lot of hits on culture and identity within the Black communities (because not all Black is the same, in case you missed the memo) as well as the magical communities and how the community you belong to and the company you keep doesn't necessarily make you good or evil. Every choice we make has a consequence and it's those choices that decide who we truly are. And it's a gray ass area.

There were SO MANY plot twists. Just left and right things were jumping out at me like, you should have seen this coming, but I didn't. and it was fantastic.

It was hella queer, just a whole dang lot of queer love (as there should be). And the magic system and the family aspect and gods y'all, I can't even form coherent thoughts anymore.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It was bloody fucking brilliant.

I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I'm also friends with the author.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,354 reviews176 followers
July 23, 2021
Futuristic fantasy society and witches? This was amazing!

Blood Like Magic is a YA science fantasy about a young Black witch of Trinidadian and Canadian heritage. Voya Thomas is about to have her Calling: a trial witches undergo in order to receive their powers. But when Voya fails the first time, she's given an unprecedented second chance and she takes it. Voya's task is to destroy her first love, and if she fails not only will she lose magic but her whole family will as well. Voya also has two problems with her task: she's never been in romantic love and if she commits murder for magic, her family will become impure witches again (ones that cause pain for power).

This book was just...wow. Amazing. Going into this novel I didn't expect the futuristic and high tech society we got, but damn did I love it. This book is a giant genre mash and I want more like it. I loved all of the information we got on gene modification and the scientific innovations that were common in this society. The story is very heavy on world building, so expect a lot of that. I loved the world building and wanted to get more after I got over my initial confusion that it was set in the future.

I loved the exploration of witch culture, especially all of the business about pure vs impure witches. It was such an interesting distinction to see these two types of magic that are constantly compared. I also loved seeing how much of witch culture was steeped in honoring their ancestors and having their ancestors bless them. It made the family aspect that much more tangible.

I absolutely loved Voya. She was someone who might not always have a lot to say, but she's constantly listening and trying to find ways to get the person what they need. Voya spends so much of her time trying to figure out how to get the family members in her house what they need. I loved the caring side of her. I also loved that she wanted answers, she never wanted the easy explanation. She wanted to know why, what, when, where and who. Plus her love of cooking! Omg her love of cooking lit her up. I loved seeing her constantly exploring new recipes and integrating old family recipes as well as her own creations. She was such a well rounded character, who still had room to grow.

The side characters are also freaking amazing. I loved Voya's family so damn much. And then there's Luc. Our precious love interest. He is very rude in the beginning and I didn't think I'd like him, but he's secretly a cinnamon roll so I fell hard. Luc is also trans, and while there is some small things he does face because of it, he's allowed to exist and thrive as he is. Also hello enemies to lovers trope!

The plot does a lot of balancing: between a mysterious Auntie no one can remember, trying to fall in love, trying to help her cousin get an internship and entering a cooking competion, Voya is very busy. I loved how something was always happening, there were so many individual sub plots, but they add up to make an intricate and expansive main plot.

And then there was the ending. Like what the fuck. I don't even know how to react?? So much happened and a lot of it I never expected. Completely 100% blown away. I would like a sequel right now please.

Rep: Fat Black female MC, trans male love interest, Black demiromantic lesbian female side character, Black trans female side character, possible nonbinary side character (she/her pronouns). Various Black and queer side characters.

CWs--from the author: 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.

My additions: cursing, racism.
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,671 reviews853 followers
July 8, 2022
DNF 20%

An 'it's me, not you' situation. The protagonist was compelling and the world was fascinating. A mix of futuristic dystopian technology and traditional witch magic which I've never read before. If only my hang-up about the graphic blood depiction hadn't got me.

Trigger warnings for .

Representation: Voya (mc) is fat, Black & Trinidadian-Canadian; Black, sapphic & transgender scs.

BlogTrigger Warning DatabaseStoryGraph
Profile Image for Rebecca Maye Holiday.
Author 29 books126 followers
November 6, 2021
It's rare to hear much about Canadian fantasy beyond the work of, say, Margaret Atwood or whomever. Here up north, our brand of fantasy fiction is an inconspicuous and often unnoticed thing, and so it's great to see a book like Blood Like Magic appearing in mainstream bookstores and fiction circles. An urban-set tale of occult intrigue, slippery slopes of romance and generations of witches, Blood Like Magic is no ordinary book, but rather a dark horse rushing forth far ahead of its time. It should also be noted that the artwork for the hardcover is absolutely beautiful and worth a close look.

This book, by summary alone, almost seemed to me like that 1980's episode of Tales From the Darkside titled "Black Widows", where love interests are to be sacrificed by a family with generations of magical history. Blood Like Magic runs much deeper than that. Protagonist Voya, a Black girl from a long familial line of magical beings, is set to kill her very first love in life, or else her family will lose their magic forever, leaving a great deal of responsibility and conflict on Voya's shoulders alone. Voya is a complicated, realistic and unforgettable character who practically steps up out of the book all on her own, while author Liselle Sambury seamlessly weaves elements of science fiction and digital technology into a genre generally restricted to medieval and occult tropes. There are some darker moments in the story, as Sambury explores the old history of the characters and the past, and with powerful talent, she allows things to unfold with the most impressive world-building that I've come across in awhile.

There's apparently a sequel planned for Blood Like Magic, which I hope to read when it's released. In the meantime, this book also works as a standalone and an excellent example of the type of contemporary genre fiction that deserves much more attention here in Canada.
Profile Image for Fanna.
979 reviews493 followers
Want to read
October 20, 2020
October 20, 2020: UM THAT COVER >>>>

August 21, 2020: We have a Black witch and all the paranormal magic?! And the author said there'll be Trinidadian food refs, and she researched the history of slavery in Canada and the US so you know how amazing this book is going to be.
Profile Image for kate.
1,078 reviews915 followers
May 24, 2021
4.5* WOW. This was fan-freaking-tastic. Honestly, one of the most unique and interesting fantasies I've come across in a long time. Not only was the magic system interesting and easy to understand, the characters were complex and lovable, the relationship dynamics multilayered and fascinating, the world was captivating and felt eerily close to our own future. The plot built slowly in a way that had me utterly hooked from the first page until the last. The way Liselle blended fantasy with science fiction, whilst never forgetting the history it was built upon, was creative, clever and, at times, utterly terrifying. The food moments were e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g and the way Liselle created a future so casually accepting of all genders, identities and sexualities was wonderful to read.

Voya as a character was wonderful to follow. She was smart, powerful, insecure, bold and her struggle with decision making and uncertainty surrounding her future was painfully relatable as someone who can't make a decision to save her life.

Blood Like Water has not only made me super excited about Liselle as an author, but sparked an excitement for fantasy/dystopia/sci-fi I've been missing. I just want all the urban fantasy stories please.
Profile Image for avani ✿.
261 reviews27 followers
December 4, 2021
update 12/4/21 2.75 ★

i was being too nice bc this was an arc.

i literally did not like the characters that much. im cringing rereading this review bc almost none of it is true, i was exaggerating so much 😭

the plot was horrible. so boring oh my god

the only good thing was the rep and the worldbuilding- both of those were incredible.


thank you to netgalley and the publishers for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

4.5 ★

overall, i really enjoyed this dark, witchy urban fantasy with engaging characters and an intriguing magic system.

i absolutely loved all the incredible, casual lgtbq+ and poc representation. all the characters are so well developed and flawed, and i thought that was so important. not a single character was anywhere near perfect, and it just made their characters all stronger in a way. especially voya, out main character. she had so many self-doubts and could be frustrating at times, but it was her kindness and strength that really shone. at its core, this book is all about family. the relationships between voya and her entire family were equally three-dimensional and well fleshed out. there were conflicts and arguments as well as heartwarming, touching moments, and their dynamic was so unique yet so honest at the same time.

did i mention how much I love luc? no? okay so i absolutely love luc rodriguez. literally the definition of i hate everyone but you, and oh my gosh i loved the romance between him and voya. it was a sweet slowborn filled with sharp, witty banter that progressed naturally as they both started to get more comfortable and open up around each other.

my favorite part of this book would have to be the setting. i adore both sci-fi/dystopian book as well as fantasy, and this book was a perfect combination. the magic system was just incredible and so unique. i was so captivated with it all, and it was never info-dumpy. there are so many fascinating, futuristic aspects imbedded into the story, and it was equally engrossing to see how generations of witches used their magic alongside the increasingly advanced technology.

it was also really interesting to see how trinidian and caribbean culture is similar to south asian culture, and it was so cool to learn about the shared traditional food. honestly just reading about all the mouthwatering food voya was making was really interesting and it made me really hungry.

the one complaint I have with this is the actual plot and pacing. it was really slow at times. the beginning especially was hard to get into because it just felt like nothing was really happening. some of the conversations felt repetitive, unnecessary, and i unfortunately found myself a little bored at times. thankfully, i think it did get better as the storyline progressed as I was in absolute shock for the last 20%.

blood like magic is a book i will definitely be recommending left and right when it comes out June 15th, and i would recommend all fans of YA dark urban fantasy, with beautifully flawed, diverse characters and complex witchy communities to pick it up!
Profile Image for Sofie |.
243 reviews148 followers
May 26, 2021
Thank you NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Canada for the e-ARC for review!

From the start of this, Mama Jova has wanted me to take control of my future and my choices. And this whole time I believed that I would make the wrong choice. Thats how it’s been with everything in my life. Ever decision was another chance to mess up.

I don’t know if this is the right one either. But it doesn’t matter.

It’s my choice, and I have to make it.

So I do.

When Voya Thomas, a young witch, fails her Calling, she begs her talker for another chance. And to her entire family’s surprise, she gets it. But the task seems impossible: to get her gift, Voya must destroy her first love, or else her entire family will lose their magic.

A strong 3.5 stars.

Fantasy and sci-fi are wonderfully blended in Liselle Sambury’s Blood Like Magic. Reading the blurb, I was initially worried this would be too similar to the Bone Grace series, but the novel was one of the most original and impressive fantasies I’ve read in a long time. I wasn’t expecting such an immersive, black mirror-esque component to the world building; Sambury’s sci-fi ideas were mildly uncanny, and I don’t doubt they’ll be part of our reality soon.

There was a diverse familial cast of characters, wherein everyone felt distinct and purposeful. Voya was an imperfect protagonist, riddled with self doubt, and tasked with an impossible calling that kept me guessing. And most excitedly, the book showcased a vast variety of cultures and backgrounds, and Toronto was the perfect setting for it all. I loved learning about Voya’s Trinidadian background, especially through her cooking, as well as the other witch families and their own histories. I also appreciated that, despite being set in the future, Sambury still addressed issues of race and bigotry that, like Voya mentioned, likely will take centuries more to dismantle. Similarly, I loved that social issues we are currently working through were near old news.

There were a few story-telling issues that brought me out of the book. Comprehensive world-building is so important, especially for such a unique story, but the novel was a bit slow to start. I’m also a bit torn on how I feel about Voya’s task, about Justin’s ideology, about the pure vs. impure magic concept. I won’t post any spoilers, but some reasoning felt a bit weak, and I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to let it slide.

That said, this is a strong debut and great for young adult fantasy and sci-fi lovers everywhere.
Profile Image for Mia.
2,110 reviews469 followers
August 17, 2021
Enjoyable read with with a lot of representation but it had pacing problem. I will definitely read sequel.
Profile Image for Faith.
192 reviews56 followers
June 9, 2021
"𝐃𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥 𝐛𝐚𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐮𝐩 𝐬𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐛𝐨𝐝𝐲. 𝐏𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭."

𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘰 𝘚𝘪𝘮𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘚𝘤𝘩𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘊𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘥𝘢 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘯 𝘈𝘙𝘊 𝘪𝘯 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘯 𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸!

Blood Like Magic is a YA urban fantasy with sci-fi elements. It is set in Toronto and features a diverse cast of characters. This story follows Voya as she attempts to complete her Calling, a task set for her by her ancestors which will define the future of her family. Her task is to kill her first love, so she must between her family and the boy she grows to love.

This book was amazing! I was in a huge reading slump before reading this, and Blood Like Magic yanked me right out. I really enjoyed the fact that basically the entire cast was POC, featuring an array of representation. There were also several LBGTQIA characters, including the main love interest who is trans. Overall, the representation in this book was amazing!

As for the plot, I found it to be really intriguing! I really liked the mystery of it but I did find that it dragged a bit at times. I do feel like the plot could have been paced a bit better, but other than that, I have nothing negative to say about this book!

My favourite things about this book were the world-building and the relationships between the characters! The characters themselves were also very complex and interesting to read about. As for the world-building, it was so amazing to read about a futuristic Toronto (very sci-fiesque)! It combined the elements of the city that I grew up with, with an amazing world that was so so cool! I also loved reading about the magic system!

As for the relationships between the characters I loved Voya and Luc's romance! We were served the hate to love trope, the lovers to enemies trope, and the I hate everyone but you trope. But what took the cake for me was Voya's relationship with her family. The Thomases were a team, a family that would do anything for each other and I loved that:)

Overall a great book that you should definitely give a chance to, especially if you're a fan of urban fantasy!
July 24, 2021
🌺🌿-“Kill Luc. Or do nothing and lose our already dwindling magic, along with my baby sister.
No matter what I do, this task will break me.
And none of that changes the fact that it has to be done.” -🌿🌺

put an end to the existence of (something) by damaging or attacking it.
"the room had been destroyed by fire"

I still think that she was jumping to conclusions but I guess “put an end to the existence of something” really sounds like immediate death.

Voya Thomas is a witch, her family: a family of pure witches(meaning they don’t murder for magic). So when she has to kill her first love, it is a bit suspicious.

Although, first she must HAVE a first love so she turns to NuGene’s new dating match thing that she was chosen for.
Unfortunately (for her) she was paired with the person who humiliated her.

I was very excited about this aspect of the story because 1, enemies to lovers and 2 she actually has a reason to hate him. (no insta hate!) and even then, she hated him realistically. She was able to give him the benefit of the doubt without the insta love that sometimes follows the insta hate.

More on Voya… I really liked her character, she is an aspiring witch, but also has a passion for cooking and has insecurities about not moving up in the world, and her future being set in stone.
Sometimes in books it’s FL meets ML and her life changes, but here everything was driven by Voya’s choices. This, I think, made her a great character.
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