BLOOD LIKE MAGIC by LISELLE SAMBURY
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury is a book that’s been on my radar for a while, mostly because of the cover. I love purple, and the cover is purple! Aside from that, I love a good witchy story, and that’s exactly what this book is. Blood Like Magic follows sixteen-year-old Voya Thomas, fledgling witch living in near-future Toronto. When her ancestors assign her a Calling, a task every new witch must complete to obtain their powers, she is forced to choose between killing her true love to save her little sister…or losing her magic–and her family’s magic–forever.
I enjoyed Blood Like Magic foremost for its worldbuilding. It’s very intricate, from the near-future setting and how magic operates in it, to how the magic itself works. Magic is deeply tied to a family’s ancestors, and these ancestors decide which “gifts” to give to which descendant. Blood–literal blood–is also important to the worldbuilding, so be warned if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing. It can be a little…much to read about if you’re squeamish. Bloodiness aside, I loved how well Sambury incorporates the importance of family and makes every one of Voya’s relatives important to the story. I also like Voya as a character. She’s strong and smart while also being fun and carefree. She loves to cook and all the food descriptions within the book made me hungry.
I do have some gripes with this story, however. It’s a 500 page book and I don’t think the story necessitated such a long page count. It’s slow going at first and the book doesn’t really pick up speed until halfway through. The uneven pacing continues throughout the story, unfortunately, and the result is a plot that dragged from time to time. I also found myself frustrated at some of the editing choices–which aren’t really Sambury’s fault, but still. There’s a LOT of repetition about how bad Voya is at making choices. An editor should have caught some of these and cut them out. There’s also repetition about Voya’s task–killing the boy she’s supposed to fall in love with–and after the fourth time of reading about it in so many page, I was like, “okay, we get it.”
Despite these quibbles, Blood Like Magic is a fun story about magic, family, food, and love. There’s literal Black Girl Magic and it’s a joy to read. The worldbuilding is innovative and I love that Sambury isn’t afraid to take risks with her work.
You can check out Blood Like Magic at the Argenta Library today!