Claire Humphrey's Toronto-set debut novel wins Canadian fantasy prize for 'fresh take on magic'

Claire Humphrey won $1,000 for Spells of Blood and Kin, about complicated magical inheritances.
Spells of Blood and Kin is Claire Humphrey's first novel. ( Dunne Books)

Claire Humphrey's debut Spells of Blood and Kin has won the 2017 Sunburst Award for Adult Fiction, a $1,000 prize that annually celebrates Canadian literature of the fantastic.

The novel, set in contemporary Toronto, follows a woman named Lissa Nevsky who has inherited a house full of old world magic from her deceased grandmother. As Lissa soon learns, her family's magical legacy comes with a set of dangerous obligations.

"In cool, elegant prose, Humphrey's novel gives us a fresh take on magic, exploring the gifts it can bestow and the price it exacts," said the judges in a press release.

"Humphrey's use of a real, contemporary Canadian setting and her refusal to allow her characters any easy victories set this novel apart from a field of strong competitors."

The Sunburst Award is also awarded in the young adult and short story categories.

Jonathan Auxier won the $1,000 Sunburst Award for Young Adult Fiction for Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguardhis second novel in the Peter Nimble series.

"It's a metafictional adventure about the power (and limits) of story that, despite its invocation of well-worn tropes and its echoes of classics of children's fantasy, still manages to be both surprising and gripping (and very funny) in its long, intricately-plotted narrative," said the judges in a press release.

The $500 Sunburst Award for Short Story was won by A.C. Wise for The Sailing of the Henry Charles Morgan in Six Pieces of Scrimshaw (1841), published in The Dark. Wise was praised by judges for her "ingenious twist on the 'found manuscript' trope' and success in "frightening and engaging the reader."