Voya is sixteen years old and just had her period for the first time. It’s a big deal because she is a witch, and when female witches get their period, it means their Calling is coming. This is when they will be given a test from one of their ancestors. Once they pass the test, they will get an ability that is different than the standard magic that any witch can practice. Voya doesn’t have to experience this alone, as she lives with her grandmother, mother, dad, stepmother, half sister, three cousins, an aunt, and an uncle in their family home. All of them are witches who practice magic and have their own gift, except for her half sister, who is the youngest. Voya goes through the motions and receives her task: to destroy her first love or lose magic for her entire family. What could possibly happen?
My Recap and Review
All I knew when I started this book was that it is a fantasy book. It is set in Canada, well into the future, where technology is more advanced and genetic mutation exists. The book is only told from the perspective of Voya. Her struggle with indecision is a big theme throughout the book. Her focusing on the “right” choice, trying to envision the possible outcomes of each choice, leaning on others to help her make decisions, while at the same time feeling like she doesn’t have a choice, are relatable. Maybe the character struggles with anxiety, though it’s not clearly discussed. Her indecision on her options, and her interpretation of her tasks can make her annoying as a narrator. I asked my brother, “Damn, is this what I sound like?” However, this book was so great and I need more people to talk about it.
The book is long, past 400 pages, but it goes by quickly. Liselle Sambury, the author, gives a lot of information and backstory on the family and the community. She makes sure to repeat certain dynamics or connections among them, when they become relevant again throughout the book. Even if at the time of reading it seems like a piece of information is random, there’s a reason it’s brought up and everything I can think of that seemed unconnected, gets addressed and explained throughout the book.
The last fifty or so pages of the book was a huge plot twist for me. I’m the type of person who likes to read the last few lines at the end of a book *covers face*. This book gave no indication of what was going to happen by how it ended. It didn’t help me understand anything so it made me want to keep reading. I was desperate to see how Voya was going to pull it off because at some point everyone, including herself, was sure she wouldn’t.
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD- SKIP TO THE OVERALL SECTION IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED
The fact that Voya chose instead to destroy her cousin, Keis’s, future instead of Luc was wild. I wasn’t expecting it, even when she brought it up as a potential option. I was so frustrated when she touched Juras, sending him to the hospital, instead of touching Luc. She was given a clear out, and she didn’t take it because of how much she didn’t want to kill Luc. It took her a while to see that she made a choice when there wasn’t originally one. It was her choice.
There is irony in the fact that Luc helps his sponsor dad kidnap Voya’s family so he can experiment on witches to reach immortality. Voya sees Mama Jova and admits that if she had just touched Luc, they wouldn’t have experienced Luc helping them be kidnapped and feeding information. It further pushed the idea that the ancestors have their reasons and she was given the task for a reason, even though the interpretation was up to her.
I saw some reviews that tanked their rating because of this outcome, but I think Voya’s reasoning ultimately made sense. As much as I hate that she tied Keis to the house, Keis’s goal was to move on and out no matter how she could do it. Keis was adaptable; we saw that when she gave in and used magic to help her get a reference. Keis had her family and magic, which is more than what Luc had, especially with his sponsor dad “dead.”
It’s also very ironic Voya chose this because Keis was the harder choice. Voya has to look Keis in the eye, or feel her energy at least, every single day and know she was the one that caused her misery. Voya also suffers knowing the person she has loved the most hates her, even if it isn’t forever. Maybe that is part of why she made the choice. So she can sit in it and feel it’s consequences and not cast it aside. It was also one of the few selfish choices she made. She wants to keep the family together more than anything. She achieved that for the time being.
The end is a testament to how the family treats Voya. Even in the end, they were still unsure if she could do the task. Granny says something about how even she, the Matriarch of the family, still didn’t have complete trust in the ancestors. It’s no wonder Voya had a hard time trusting in herself when the people around her were also unsure if she could find a way to complete the task without killing Luc.
It was no surprise when Voya becomes the Matriarch. All she ever did was look out for and support her family, even if they didn’t show up for her in the same way.
There were so many takeaways from this book. There are different types of love. People will go against their beliefs and values if they’re desperate enough. Love for someone can blind you of their character. You are allowed, even encouraged, to question tradition. Believe and invest in yourself. You can lean on and open up to others. Other people can teach you things about yourself. Life is a series of choices. The “right” choice is the one we can live and adapt with. Indecision can give you answers as well. It also makes me think of my interpretation of fate, because will she still have to take down Luc later?
There’s probably more that aren’t coming to mind. This book has a few storylines that it explores. It’s part of the reason why I enjoy it so much. It also doesn’t have a “happy” ending. It’s pretty somber and left me wanting more. Every character is nuanced and it is something I appreciate.
Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. I cried during the last pages. I am desperately waiting for the second book to come in at the library so I can see what happens next in the series. I highly recommend.
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