This book was a BookTok recommendation. The author is @lisellesambury on TikTok if you want to check her out. The sequel to this book is coming out later this year.
Author: Liselle Sambury
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Voya Thomas has finally Come of Age. She is ready to receive her Task, Pass, and become a full witch with a Gift of her own, just like her grandma, parents, and cousins before her. She has difficulty making decisions and has little confidence in herself to actually pass her task, but nevertheless, she doesn’t want to let her family down. However, she is given an impossible task. She must destroy her first love in order to save her family’s magic. If she chooses to decline her task, every Thomas after her will never receive magic. If she accepts and fails her task, every Thomas alive today will be stripped of their magic. How can she be the one to hold the fate of her family’s magic all on her own? She can’t fail her family.
This book is set in the not-so-distant future of about 2030, but in this future, it’s all about genes and genetic modification. It’s also about the struggles of the marginalized black community; how it’s difficult to make money and get an education, not unlike today. The importance of heritage and culture is also spotlighted in this story. Family is literally one of the pillars of this book.
The ancestors of these witches may grant those who pass their task a gift that could be anything from reading minds to fire manipulation. Each witch also has access to magic through blood and intent. They’re split into those who are pure and those who are impure. Impure witches get the majority of their power through spilling someone else’s blood. Each family has a Matriarch. She is able to speak with the ancestors and lead her family.
I love the mechanics behind the magic and how every family in their witch community is connected. The characters and their stories are great. The backstory of how their community became the way it is because of the influence of genetic modification and those who have money to get modifications and those who don’t.
I wish the other characters had more depth. Voya and her cousin, Keis, are in the story much more than everyone else and they have a bit more depth to them than everyone else. It feels a little rushed when we’re introduced to characters and then it’s very shallow and not very flushed out. For example, Luc is our arrogant love interest who has some sort of hobbies and back story that we get little snippets of and then we’re moving on. I wish we could have learned more about Alex, another Thomas cousin, and Luc.
The hardest part for me with this book was I couldn’t connect with it. That’s really just me though because I am not black myself and I don’t know anything about Canada and Trinidad. I don’t know some of the words she used or the cultural references. It was really great to read about another culture, but I found it very hard for me to connect with the story which is why I relied more on the characters and their stories. It took me a lot longer to get through this story than I would have thought but I still loved it and I can’t wait for the next book to come out.
I highly recommend this book if you like fantasy stories about magic and love. If you like stories rooted in family values and morals, this is the one for you. If you want to read a story about a black girl, written by a black girl, this one is definitely for you.