Cover Image: Blood Like Magic

Blood Like Magic

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Member Reviews

What a GREAT book. The magic system felt fresh and new to me. I loved how food was so important in this book and always felt like I needed a snack. I'm a sucker for anything with witches and couldn't put this down.
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This book was amazing. A girl grows into her power and faces an impossible decision. I was startled at first by the sheer amount of blood, and it was quite intense, but worth it. The magic system was unique and the stakes were high. I won't add it to my 6th grade classroom, because it is just too intense, but I will definitely recommend it to high school and up.
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It took me months to get through this one! Overall-just ok. 

Ok, so I desperately wanted to love this one. Just look at the cover. And that synopsis?!?! Magic? Futuristic setting? Diverse rep and Trinidadian culture? Killing your first love? SIGN ME THE HELL UP.

Sadly, there was just too many words and so much info dump for my attention span. I could have used a much tighter edit to really get sucked into the story. There are SO many interesting characters and side plots to explore, but some things were just so redundant and repetitive. Seriously repetitive. I just couldn't get into it, feeling like I was rehashing some of the same things every time I read it. There are plenty of people who really enjoyed this one, and honestly, I'd love to see how the final edition compared to my arc. If it was a tighter edit, I'd definitely give it a higher rating. 

Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, Margaret K. McElderry Books for my advanced read of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Setting and character background notwithstanding, the premise of this book merits a lot of interest on its own. In the scope of the story itself, it seems to be the only reason for me to continue reading as this book suffers from a murky middle in which I wasn't sure whether I would keep turning to the next page. I ended up not getting past the reveal of the character's mission as I wasn't invested in their journey.
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*I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

This was such a fun, futuristic take on familial magic! I can't wait to see what else the author writes.
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Let me say off the bat that this is not a bad book by any means. In fact, there were loads of elements that I absolutely loved!

🧡 Likes 🧡

The Trinidadian / Caribbean representation felt absolutely on point, and I loved the richly detailed descriptions of the food, music, and Caribana! The Trinis can tell me if it was an accurate portrayal, but in my opinion, the cultural elements were done in a way that felt authentic and never over-explained.

What really took me by surprise was the scifi aspect! The world is so cool! I looooved that it is set in the future, and you get introductions to new technologies. Moreover, there is a fascinating exploration of the implications of those technological advances, including power imbalances, and social and economic inequality. Great balance of magic and tech!

😪 Disliked 😪

Here's where I get to the struggle.

The MC was honestly so... exhausting. Her defining personality trait is that she can't make decisions. It could be small, like what to eat for breakfast, to bigger decisions like, I dunno, WHETHER TO SAVE HER FAMILY OR NOT.

Kid you not, it was pages and pages AND PAGES of her indecision. It was such a tedious slog, because there were many points where it brought the plot to a complete halt. I have anxiety, so I would love an MC with a mental health disorder, but that's not how it was portrayed (to me, at least).

It was just unnecessarily detailed and imbalanced writing, which ultimately, took away from the otherwise great aspects of the book.

🔅🔅

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐

🔅🔅

Thanks to @netgalley @simonandschuster for the e-ARC!
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Blood Like Magic is a must-read if you're on the hunt for fantasy with witchcraft centered around black characters. Where was this type of book when I was growing up.? 

Voya Thomas has just received her task for her "Calling". Voya has a decision to make that has literal life or death ramifications. I am excited to read more from this author and more about this family.  Blood Like Magic reminds me of Wings of Ebony in a good way. Representation matters and I truly appreciate there are more black voices in this genre. Thank you, NetGalley for the opportunity to read such an amazing book.
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Blood Like Magic is filled with richly-plotted worldbuilding and complex magical hierarchies.  Overall it’s quite a satisfying and engrossing read, with a few minor issues that kept it from getting a full-on A grade.  It’s a full-tabled banquet loaded with treats – most of them of a rather chilling flavor.

This book opens with our heroine taking a soak in a tub filled with her own menstrual blood-stained water.  It’s her Bleeding, and at sixteen she is a late bloomer, and its arrival means that Voya Thomas has entered into her Coming-Of-Age and she is now a fledgling witch.  The next day she will take part an amplifying ceremony to trigger her Calling – a trial which every witch must go through in order to receive her powers. The Calling tends to have dire consequences for anyone who fails it – and if Voya does not succeed, she’ll remain a non-magical person.  For people without uteruses the process is rather more gross – you bleed out of your eyes, your nose and various other orifices.

This definitely sets the tone for Blood Like Magic, which is the right kind of matter-of-fact about its gore and portrayal of racism and gender issues. Blood magic is the sort the Thomas family practices, and the sort that governs the entire universe in which they live.

Every post-pubescent member of Voya’s family has powers. Her cousin Keis can read minds, her mother is a blood bender, her Granny, the Matriarch, rules over them all, and her bones are made of iron.  No one in her family has failed a Calling in over a hundred years, so the Pressure Is On for Vo.  It intensifies when the ancestor who answers Vo’s Calling turns out to be Mama Jova.  Mama Jova tells Vo she must accept her chosen task, or every living Thomas and every member of her bloodline born after her will lose their magical abilities.  When Vo says she wants to talk about this with her family first, Jova says she has failed, but Vo begs for a second chance - and receives it.  Mama Jova tells her she must destroy her first love or suffer, and she has until the upcoming Caribana Carnival – where the ancestral ghosts of the living reveal themselves once more – to complete the task.  Since the Thomases are pure witches – they do not murder for their magic, unlike impure magic wielders – this seems odd and suspect to them.

Voya – who does not date – has never been in love.  But a face pops into her mind.  While at NuGene trying to score an internship opportunity – NuGene being a company which grew out of a DNA testing ancestry website and now provides matchmaking, gene therapy and other services based upon manipulating a person’s genetic material  – Vo catches sight of blue/gray-haired Luc Rodriguez, who is being mentored by the head of the company.  Luc is not popular with his peers – in fact he humiliates Vo during their first meeting - but Vo is instantly interested in him.  She volunteers for beta testing a new meet-your-soulmate-via-genetic-testing kit, and learns that Luc is her match to nearly a hundred percent.  Setting about trying to figure out a way out of the complex knot of ancestral expectations and new feelings, Vo, her family, and Luc try to work through the complexities of it all without shedding Luc’s blood.  But Will Vo have to do so if she’s to save her baby sister Eden?

Blood Like Magic is a big, complex, brutal, violent, intriguing, dazzling book.  It could have used a couple of extra editing passes and maybe been tightened up by dropping a quarter of its page length, but really, what is page length when you’re being fed a spread like this one?!

Sambury does a good job of setting up a star-crossed romance between Voya and Luc, one that makes sense and evolves out of some understandable anger and bitterness.  Voya is not a perfect protagonist, and her humanity makes her quite relatable.  Her cousin and mother encourage her to create a back-up plan in case she never gets her Calling, but Vo has one big problem – she’s bad at making a decision and then sticking to a course of action.  This carries through the book and echoes very well.  Much of the story is about family and the weight of what we bear as we explore our connections to the older generations. Sambury explores this through a Trinidadian lens.  Voya slowly but surely comes into her own.

Blood Like Magic is not an easy book to read, but it's an incredibly strong tale with a very memorable heroine

Note: The author provides a list of content warning in the forward to the book – be sure to read it before you delve in. She does not mention the period blood bathtub scene, so I took care to mention it above.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent retailer
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Visceral and badass. Voya struggles with the feeling of belonging in her family, her witch community, and in Toronto in general. Her love interest is a trans guy and I like that Luc's character felt authentic (even when he's a jerkface!). The magic system in this book is unique and felt 100% integrated with the setting and Voya's life in general. Excited for book two.

Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Voya Thomas comes from a long line of witches, but fails the test that will allow her to come into her powers. Granted a rare second chance by her ancestor, her new task risks her whole family's magic and requires her to kill the one she loves. Voya is a wonderfully developed character, her attempt to fall in love in an impossible situation rings authentic to many teenagers' desire to be loved at all costs, and the world building and Black magic throughout is incredible. An incredible series opener and a must-purchase for libraries.
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Blood Like Magic (Blood Like Magic #1) by Liselle Sambury is a great debut YA novel. I particularly appreciated how well Sambury combines magically and sci-fi elements. Honestly, the combo was a bit jarring at first, but once I got into the swing of things I got a kick out that touch. I also greatly appreciated just how important family is in this novel. All of the characters were so well developed and felt just like they could have walked right off the page. I can't wait to read the upcoming sequel.
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If a healthy mix of science fiction, urban fantasy, witches, and amazing LGBTQ+ representation gets you excited then totally check out Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury.

This story is so rich, raw, and powerful that it’s difficult to boil down to a simple review. Just know that these pages are filled with badass characters who are asked to make difficult choices in order to grow, save the people they love, and to come out stronger.

Sprinkle in a robust Magic system, a Canadian setting, and genetic modifications/cybernetic enhancements and you have one of the most creative stories I’ve read in a while.
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There are so many reasons to appreciate this book. Firstly, I loved world-building in the tale. The author creates a futuristic view of Toronto, where we see the technology used in the character’s daily lives. Yet, the author also adds elements of magic to this futuristic landscape that made the story so captivating.

Secondly, I loved how the author portrayed Voya’s family. Voya comes from a large family, and I loved the sense of community embedded with the plot. Whether it be Keis, Granny, Dad, or even Priya, you feel like you become a part of the Thomases, irrespective of how dysfunctional they are.

Thirdly, I enjoyed the concept of the story. Voya needs to destroy her first love, or else her family will lose their ancestral magic. Voya is a beautiful protagonist you can immediately relate because she is flawed and makes mistakes. On top of all this, you also have the mystery of Elaine, which adds nicely to the plot. There is never a dull moment in the story, and the author builds the story, especially in the second half.

The author also highlights the romance nicely! I adored Voya and Luc together. It was interesting to see how Voya controls her feelings, knowing what she has to do with Luc after one month. The chemistry they share is electrifying, whether they are in the flea market or NuGene.

The only downside to the tale is how lengthy it is. As much as I love reading big books, it took me a good three chapters to get immersed in the story. However, once I got past the initial setback, I thoroughly enjoyed the tale.

Overall, “Blood Like Magic” is a beautiful start to the series, and I cannot wait to read the sequel.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Magic??? Killing one’s first love??? Futuristic witches??? All sounds like a yes to me. 

I could have done without the first fifty pages or so of the book. The very summary of the book says that Voya has to kill her first love. Yet this revelation doesn’t come into play until page 125ish. Those pages are just filled with a bit of info-dumping, some world-building, and a boatload of indecision. It made the book feel longer than it was and made the beginning feel really slow. That being said, once we found out Voya’s task is to destroy her first love, things really picked up. 

The writing was a major contributor to the picking up of things. To put it simply, it flowed really well. The dialogue is snarky and it’s really easy to fall into the rhythm of the book. Once we got to the heart of the story, it kept things moving. In the realm of fantasy, the writing definitely felt on the lighter side and is perfect for the summer months. 

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The plot felt a bit undercooked to me. The world and the magic were much more fully developed, but the plot itself left a bit to be desired. Like it sort of seemed like a winding trail, unsure of a firm direction. Sure, the goal in mind was always to make a choice, but it felt like the end had much more emphasis than the steps it took to get there. 

Ok. Let’s talk world building. Besides a bit of infodumping in the beginning, I thought the development of the world was really well done. It was really cool to be fully immersed in this futuristic society that relies on genetics, these mind phone transmission thingamabobs, and a bucketful of technology. Seeing the system combined with magic was honestly one of my favorite parts of the whole book. 

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There are a ton of characters in this book. There are a lot of family dynamics going on, and all of them felt so genuine. Sambury did a really great job capturing that family dynamic. Even when they didn’t all agree, or it was messy, they still were there for each other. Given the ending, I’m excited to see how this is going to be explored further in the next book. 

I kind of struggled with Voya and her narration. Voya just lacked direction as a character. Girl had no idea what was going on or what choice to make for basically the entire book. It made being in her head feel a touch repetitive. Being in Voya’s mind was like being on a hamster wheel of indecision and by the midsection of the book it really started to get to me. 

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Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. The writing and dialogue is so easy to fall into and the worldbuilding is really intriguing. I most certainly will be picking up the next book, I'm invested in the characters and need to know what's next ahhhhh. If the idea of futuristic witches intrigues you, I’d highly recommend checking out Blood Like Magic!!
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Voya Thomas comes from a family of witches who have come to their powers by completing Trials set forth by their ancestors. When Voya's Trial is to choose between destroying her first love or the end of magic within her family line, Voya must make the seemingly impossible choice...it's too bad choices are already challenging for her. 

There were trigger warnings for violence, which was appreciated. This books is told from Voya's POV and is set in Toronto, Canada in the year 2049 (I think...) with a cast of amazingly diverse characters! LGBTQIA with trans characters who are not merely a side character or afterthought, this book was written so carefully to encourage accurate visibility racially, ethnically, and gender...the whole gamut of identity representation. Liselle Sambury builds a world in the future where witches, magic, and technology are part of everyday life and jargon without isolating the reader. There were a couple of parts in the middle that went by a bit slow as Voya struggles internally to complete her Trial (some parts which were a bit repetitive and I may have just skimmed...), but Sambury was able to build empathy for characters and raise the stakes believable as Voya gets closer to finding possible solutions. I cannot wait for book 2!
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Yep, okay this is a book I needed, and I needed it more than I thought. This is such a refreshing and unique book! Often times when we read witchy books it's in the past or a current setting, but what about futuristic? Why don't we do that more?! Well, Blood Like Magic does that, and it does that so well!

Blood Like Magic follows Voya, a black-Canadian witch, who receives a task from her ancest0r - she must destroy her first love or her entire family will lose their magic - FOREVER. LIKE WHAT? Those are some high stakes! Featuring a blend of scifi/magical elements, Blood Like Magic has one of the most unique settings I've seen in a long time! Voya is an amazing protagonist thrown into an incredibly challenging and difficult situation. I love that she's kind of messy, she makes mistakes, but she's trying and I love that we're getting that in this story. Often times characters are painted as far too perfect.

I genuinely enjoyed this book and can't wait for the sequel!
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FUCK

BLOOD LIKE MAGIC hits really hard...definitely don't read it if you are in a bad mental state, it will definitely heighten it. 

FUCK it is so good...but also I am a bit haunted now? Is Mama Jova gonna come after me now?
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I REALLY wanted to love this- I  mean look at that cover! And the description! But honestly, I couldn't get past the first chapter. Bathing in period blood? No thank you.
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After failing her Calling, a trial every witch must go through in order to come into their powers, Voya is given an unexpected second chance. In order to get her own powers, as well as keep magic in her bloodline, Voya must find her first love and kill them. The only problem? Voya isn’t in love. She isn’t even in the realm of love. When  she gets an opportunity to participate in a beta matchmaking service based on DNA, Voya jumps at it and is paired with surly and grumpy Luc. However, falling in love to save her own powers is far from the biggest thing on the line with this task.
	This story is an exciting mix of science fiction and family drama, but readers will root for Voya and her beloved family the whole way through.
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I really liked this book. It was a different spin on magic and futuristic than what I am used to. The only thing I was set off about was the blood: blood baths, blood rituals, blood poured in your eyes, etc. Granted I knew blood would be related, hence the title of the book. I just assumed it would be like other books (small prick on a finger or palm of the hand). So after disregarding the blood aspect, it was a great story. I loved trying to figure out the mystery as the story went along. I loved the openness of LGBTQ+ in the story. I loved the choices made and how the main character stayed true to herself. I loved how she dealt with the villain in the story. I loved seeing her granny and getting to know her. I loved that Voya could cook and bake. She used her families history and mixed it with her own spin to create recipes. I really enjoyed figuring out the witch community and the whole purr/impure aspect of it all. The author did a great job on character building. There were a lot of characters through out and you loved or hated most. Hated because she wrote them so well, their personalities made you believe they were real. It was just a good book and a different take on a YA magic story.
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