I hope you’re all doing well! As promised, here is my review for the amazing book that is Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury! If you missed my author interview, you can find it here!
Title: Blood Like Magic
Author: Liselle Sambury
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.
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.
5 stars: Persephone – Queen of the Underworld and Goddess of Spring. Persephone is my favourite goddess because she is full of contradictions – she represents both strength as queen of the underworld and a softness as a floral maiden. She teaches me how it’s okay to be both. If Persephone appears, that means that the book was one of the best books I’ve ever read, that it holds a particular place in my heart and that it is now part of my favourite books ever.
Iris– Goddess of rainbows. Nothing new here, we all know that rainbows represent the LGBTQ+ community so this Goddess will be featured whenever a queer relationship or character appears.
Trans boy love interest and trans sister. One demiromantic lesbian sister.
Athena– Goddess of wisdom, poetry, art, and the strategic side of war. I will feature the goddess whenever there is a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour) because they are a symbol of resilience, strength and wisdom to me. I also want to put forth African folkore, myths and gods and since Athena is the goddess of poetry and art I thought it was fitting.
Black and Afro descendant main characters and a latino love interest.
You go into Blood Like Magic getting everything you’re promised, and more.
I cannot tell you how refreshing it was seeing Black girls in a science-fiction setting! I recommended this book to a friend and we really bonded over how amazing that representation of Black girls felt and how happy we were that Black teen girls are getting that representation.
Voya is one hell of a main character. She is so unsure of herself at the beginning of this book and as the story goes on we also understand that her family doesn’t have faith in her. So you bet that I enjoyed every single time Voya stood up for herself and started being proud of everything that she was. Because of that, trust played a big part in the story. It was all about trusting yourself, your ancestors and your family. I loved that!!
We also got the explore the culture and the witches’ ties with their ancestors and I just wish we could to that in real life. So many of us who had ancestors who were enslaved were robbed of having them pass down their culture and knowledge and this book was a great way of offering that alternative. Slavery is a triggering aspect for me but it was added in a necessary, important and interesting way and I really appreciated the way the author tied it all to the plot.
I also loved the way Voya was connected to her roots through cooking and baking. It was so wholesome that she had this hobby she was passionate about.
Voya’s family played such an important part in the book. Her family was chaotic, had many secrets and rules but the most important thing is that they loved each other. It was so interesting to see how everyone showed their love in their own way. All of the family members were fleshed out and had their quirks and I loved that. Whenever one of them spoke it felt very authentic and in tune to who they were and I loved their whole dynamic.
I was very intrigued the whole magic system and how focused it was on blood and intent. The whole drama with “pure” and “impure” witches was so clever and I can’t wait to see that aspect explored more in the second book.
The plot was also an interesting part of the story, especially the big task!! Yes! Give me all the trials and competitions, thank you! I was LIVING for the task. I thought having Voya “forcing” herself to fall in love would take the joy out of the romance but it was the contrary!! I loved seeing her being insistant and winning Luke over. It was nice seeing them appreciating each other’s presence as we got further into the book. I was giddy and happy whenever there was the romance on the page but also how it wasn’t the center of the story and it wasn’t linked to Voya’s worth. With the task being “destroying your first love” it could have been easy for the author to fall into the trap of making the story about the romance (which is also fine!!) but I liked how it was more on the background and how it added something to Voya’s character rather than centering her whole being on that.
I also briefly talked about how much the representation meant to me in the book but there are also two transgender characters and a demiromantic lesbian character and I LOVED THAT. It’s my first time reading about a demiromantic character and I loved how simply it was written and explained.
I went into this book with high expectations and I am happy to say that the book lived up to all of them!
Thank to TBR and Beyond Tours for providing me a copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.