Books·Canadian

Blood Like Magic

A YA novel by Liselle Sambury.

Liselle Sambury

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. (From Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Blood Like Magic is on the shortlist for the 2021 Governor General's Literary award for young people's literature — text. The winnters will be announced on Nov. 17, 2021.

Liselle Sambury is a writer and author from Ontario. Blood Like Magic is her debut book.

From the book 

But Voya Thomas, the girl surrounded by family, I can believe in her. She has a chance to get that perfect ending. To save her sister's life and give her a chance at magic. To make sure that generations after her will have blood that runs full of power. To have a shot at knowing their ancestors until the day they die. To maybe become the witches who Keis dreams of, the ones who change the world. 

We suffer and we survive. 

I asked Mama for a second chance, and she gave it to me. I'm not going to waste it. 

Slipping off the bed, I search in my bedside table until I find the pair of mini scissors I use for cutting my cuticles when Keisha and I have mani-pedi nights. 

I try not to cry out as I stab the sharp end into the pad of my thumb, squeezing around the skin to push out a drop of blood. 

There's nothing making me do it. No supernatural force is putting this task into motion. 

It has to be me. I have to make this choice. 

Once I'm standing in the middle of the room, I let my blood drip on the hardwood. 

Blood. 

And intent. 

The words don't come strong out of my mouth. They're a whisper as timid and fragile as my resolve. "Mama Jova." 

Heat permeates the room, as hot as the New Orleans sun was in the memory that Mama showed me. Sweat breaks out on the back of my neck and forms a thin sheen on my forehead. 

My ancestor curls out of the smoke that appears in the room as if in the middle of a dance, with her arms curved above her head and her torso twisted. Tendrils of the dark wind sneak into my nostrils and fill them with the harsh vinegar tang of rotting sugarcane. 

Johan taught us that slaves used to burn the sugarcane to kill the pests that would try and ruin the crop. Simultaneously, they would burn the dead to save time. The plants would come out of the process for the better, easier to harvest and haul. And the bodies would be tossed away with the unwanted charred leaves and bugs.


From Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury ©2021. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Interviews with Liselle Sambury

Three Northern Ontario writers are among the finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Awards. Chloe LaDuchesse of Sudbury is a finalist in the French language category in poetry for her collection "Exosquelette." Rebecca Salazar from Sudbury is a finalist in the English language category in poetry for her collection "Sulphur Tongue." And, Liselle Sambury from Timmins is a finalist in the Young People's Literature category for "Blood Like Magic." We reached Chloe LaDuchesse and Liselle Sambury for their reaction to today's announcement. 9:52

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