Liselle Sambury’s debut novel, Blood Like Magic, is an urban fantasy set in the near future in Toronto. With BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ representation, it features a great cast of characters that feel fully fleshed out. There is also a fascinating magic system that draws on familial ties and adds to the family drama throughout the series. While the world Sambury created is not perfect, it is one we could aspire to get to with much more acceptance and some really cool tech. (This is me formally saying I would like some more solar punk books, and I think this approaches that genre.)
In Blood Like Magic, we follow Voya Thomas as she becomes a witch like the other members of her family. To do so, she must pass her calling, a task her ancestors gave each member of the family with magic to receive their gift and be able to use magic. Voya’s task involves an impossible choice: She must either destroy her first love or her family’s magic. In the case of the latter, her sister’s life will be lost as it’s tied to their family’s magic. Voya starts off very indecisive, which makes this task even more difficult for her. But first, she needs to fall in love. The rest of her task comes later.
Voya has to fall in love fast to complete her task, leading her to Luc, a young scientist she was matched with during a genetic matchmaking trial. However, he wants nothing to do with her, regardless of being paired together in the project that he is working on. Still, Voya persists with the match as her only lead to finishing her task.
I am always looking for romance and love stories. And especially an adorable YA one. I was hoping the romance was going to be a larger part of the story, but it was perfect as it is because the relationship with Voya’s family was so compelling. That being said, I did love Voya and Luc. They were sweet as they progressed from enemies to lovers. As much as they hide things from each other, there is also transparency with them that’s easy to love. I was fully worried multiple times throughout the duology about their fate. But as an avid romance reader, the fact that I was okay if they didn’t end up together says something about the rest of the story and family dynamics.
Voya will do anything for her family because she wants the best for them. Throughout both books, she has to navigate difficult choices that involve her family’s well-being. She wants to help heal the Black witch community in Toronto as well, as they are parts of her family too. Sambury weaves in a large cast of characters that all intertwine brilliantly.
There is a few month’s time jump between the two books, but it feels seamless. Some of Voya’s goals change, naturally, after the climax of the first book, but her family and her community are at the story’s core. We all need community, compassion, and acceptance and this duology showcases these themes. I could not put down Blood Like Magic and was so happy to read them back to back in a little over a weekend.
Blood Like Magic and Blood Like Fate by Liselle Sambury are now available wherever books are sold.
Cover Image Credit: ©Liselle Sambury | Margaret K. McElderry