Magic for Liars
Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It's a great life and she doesn't wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

Magic for Liars Details

TitleMagic for Liars
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 4th, 2019
PublisherTor
Rating
GenreFantasy, Mystery, Fiction

Magic for Liars Review

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    "The Magicians meets Tana French" so hey I haven't actually read either but both sound like My Shit(TM) so yeah this needs to release and be in my hands immediately please serve w morally black characters
  • Janet Newport
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan/Tor-Forge for this arc.I wish I enjoyed this read more than I did. It sounded like it would be right up my alley. But it just missed out for me. I was so irritated with Ivy's self pity through out the book, that I was tempted to give up by 37%. I found it to be a slow read as it lacked the tension I usually find in murder mysteries and I had a tough time connecting to any of the characters. There was plenty of teenage angst and drama (as expected for a story set Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan/Tor-Forge for this arc.I wish I enjoyed this read more than I did. It sounded like it would be right up my alley. But it just missed out for me. I was so irritated with Ivy's self pity through out the book, that I was tempted to give up by 37%. I found it to be a slow read as it lacked the tension I usually find in murder mysteries and I had a tough time connecting to any of the characters. There was plenty of teenage angst and drama (as expected for a story set in a high school), but the "magic" didn't really sparkle for me.2.5 stars rounded up.
    more
  • unknown
    January 1, 1970
    Books that are billed as “like The Magicians” are never like The Magicians in the right ways for me, but this is both like The Magicians in that “magic is actually kind of weird and gross and real” way, and it’s a compelling whodunnit besides. The solution was perhaps a tad obvious, but the emotional weight with which the mystery is treated–it is deeply rooted in the characters’ past traumas and dysfunctions and insecurities–made that matter less. The narrative voice is arresting, and the noir a Books that are billed as “like The Magicians” are never like The Magicians in the right ways for me, but this is both like The Magicians in that “magic is actually kind of weird and gross and real” way, and it’s a compelling whodunnit besides. The solution was perhaps a tad obvious, but the emotional weight with which the mystery is treated–it is deeply rooted in the characters’ past traumas and dysfunctions and insecurities–made that matter less. The narrative voice is arresting, and the noir atmosphere is well-handled. In short, a pretty darn good debut, and significantly better than the similarly pitched An Unkindness of Magicians.
    more
  • Madison
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC! This book was a fun, interesting read, and a book that managed to successfully combine multiple interests of mine into a coherent narrative!Ivy Gamble is a messy protagonist, which might put some readers off but made me like and understand her. She has a lot of problems she hasn't dealt with, her life never went according to plan, and now she's being asked to investigate a murder at a magical academy--the same academy where her gifted twin Tabitha teaches. And it Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC! This book was a fun, interesting read, and a book that managed to successfully combine multiple interests of mine into a coherent narrative!Ivy Gamble is a messy protagonist, which might put some readers off but made me like and understand her. She has a lot of problems she hasn't dealt with, her life never went according to plan, and now she's being asked to investigate a murder at a magical academy--the same academy where her gifted twin Tabitha teaches. And it only gets more interesting from there. Definitely pick this up if you love magic, murder mysteries, and complex heroines.
    more
  • Harry Jahnke
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. I love the premise, I love the mystery, I love the twist at the end, this book is great. Good for mystery lovers, good for fantasy lovers, good for people who enjoy a story you just can't put down. Magic for Liars has everything; murder, romance, teen drama, sisterly bonding, trauma healing, everything. Can't recommend this enough.
    more
  • Sarah Hollowell
    January 1, 1970
    idk how the H E C K I'm expected to survive until this comes out and plenty of other people will be reading it which means plenty of other people will be available to scream with
  • Aidan
    January 1, 1970
    A thrilling, thoughtful, funny, cutting, and heartbreaking mystery. Like Harry Potter meets Mean Girls by way of Broadchurch.
  • Melinda Beatty
    January 1, 1970
    Whodunit meets the Magicians by way of gritty noir and Jodi Picoult. A huge pleasure--effortless character building and a very believable world. This one's going to blow up!
  • Bojoura
    January 1, 1970
    First i would like to mention the cover, its gorgeous. It really stands out. The reason i wanted to read this book was its title. When i see Magic im intrigued. Unfortunately this book was not my book. Altough very well written the story could not catch me. I wanted to like the story so much, because all the ingredients are there; private eye, murder and mystery meets at hogwarts. Yet it did not drag me into it. I do like female private detectives with some imperfections and flaws but every now First i would like to mention the cover, its gorgeous. It really stands out. The reason i wanted to read this book was its title. When i see Magic im intrigued. Unfortunately this book was not my book. Altough very well written the story could not catch me. I wanted to like the story so much, because all the ingredients are there; private eye, murder and mystery meets at hogwarts. Yet it did not drag me into it. I do like female private detectives with some imperfections and flaws but every now and then i felt she did a little too much whining and a little too much self pitty. Besides of what i did not like about Ivy, I think the rest of the story and especially the magic was very entertaining. No big surprises but very entertaining.
    more
  • Wade Badda
    January 1, 1970
    From the minute I picked up the book I felt like it was written just for me. I spent the next few days totally absorbed in the world Gailey created. Her words wove a story that kept me guessing until the very end not only about the murder but about the limits and advantages of the magic she was creating. It was refreshing to see a magic world from the eyes of an outsider looking in. Someone not trying to learn but to just understand. She delved deep into the feelings of inadequacy we all feel wh From the minute I picked up the book I felt like it was written just for me. I spent the next few days totally absorbed in the world Gailey created. Her words wove a story that kept me guessing until the very end not only about the murder but about the limits and advantages of the magic she was creating. It was refreshing to see a magic world from the eyes of an outsider looking in. Someone not trying to learn but to just understand. She delved deep into the feelings of inadequacy we all feel when surrounded by peers with extraordinary talent while believing ourselves to be ordinary. This author is right up there with Grady Hendrix and I can't wait to read more of her work.
    more
  • Racheal
    January 1, 1970
    I have mixed feelings about this one. I decided to give it a shot despite not being into murder mysteries because it sounded super interesting (a non magical private investigator is asked to solve the murder of a teacher at the magical academy where her estranged sister works), and there are a lot of things I really liked about it.The setup is great, obviously, and the writing is top notch. It's snappy and well-crafted, really giving a nice feel to this P.I. story without ever going too ham on i I have mixed feelings about this one. I decided to give it a shot despite not being into murder mysteries because it sounded super interesting (a non magical private investigator is asked to solve the murder of a teacher at the magical academy where her estranged sister works), and there are a lot of things I really liked about it.The setup is great, obviously, and the writing is top notch. It's snappy and well-crafted, really giving a nice feel to this P.I. story without ever going too ham on it. For example: Across the bay, San Francisco bled money like an unzipped artery. Those who had been privileged enough to have their buckets out to catch the spray drove back over the water to Oakland-- from The City to The Town. They bumped aside people who had been living in these neighborhoods for generations, and they tore down storefronts, and they built brunch pubs with wood reclaimed from the houses they were remodeling. The character development for the main character, Ivy, is also so clear and fleshed out that it gave me all sorts of feelings.The problem? Those feelings were not always good in the later stages of the book. She starts out so sympathetic! I wanted good things for this stunted woman who was having to face this world that she had never been, and would never be, a part of. Her defensive reactions to this pain, to the mages' total and utter indifference toward her, are just so spot-on. But at a certain point she starts letting her desperate desire to belong drive her into making some really awful decisions. Just really unwise, y'all. She goes from being believably sad sack but still smart, to being honestly kind of pathetic.The closest real-world example I can come up with is like when that popular person who bullied you in high school tries to friend you years later on Facebook, but instead of gleefully (or indifferently) denying the request, Ivy is that person who's flattered and validated and starts spinning fairytales about how they're going to be best friends. And we're talking about a woman in her mid thirties here. I also had some issues with the mystery being too simple, with several of the pivotal clues just being stumbled upon. I admittedly don't know the genre well, but this seems... not ideal. The romance also felt very out of place (although the love interest was a total peach), and there were ideas I wanted to see explored that were just dropped (consent!!).I had to think about the main thing that bugged me overall and I think it's this: the book was determined to stay lighthearted even though there are some big, deep ideas that I personally feel should have been treated with more gravitas. There are some pretty dark implications to some of the magic that the author shies away from exploring, and I feel that the actions of the characters are treated too lightly. I ended the book feeling like, "No, this person can't just go on with their life!" "No, that person can't just have that relationship back after what they did!" There are characters that are just going to call it a day and be able to sleep at night, and I hate it.I will say that overall I do think it's a worthwhile read, though, and I think a lot of people are really going to really like it. It's got a great premise, great writing, a very complete characterization of Ivy, and an overall fan-fucking-tastic first half. It's just that I also wanted to brain Ivy on the nearest hard surface at times, the mystery lacked complexity, and the conclusion didn't quite sit well with me.
    more
  • Katelyn
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. I devoured this novel, perfect for fans of the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman. Ivy and her sister Tabitha are twins. However, Tabitha is magic, and Ivy is not. More than a decade since they've talked to each other, PI Ivy is hired to investigate the death of a teacher at the magical high school Tabitha teaches at. Ivy is likeable and real and has a lot of sister issues. She's also clever and determined to figure out what happened at Tabby's school filled with privileged, magical yo 4.5 stars. I devoured this novel, perfect for fans of the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman. Ivy and her sister Tabitha are twins. However, Tabitha is magic, and Ivy is not. More than a decade since they've talked to each other, PI Ivy is hired to investigate the death of a teacher at the magical high school Tabitha teaches at. Ivy is likeable and real and has a lot of sister issues. She's also clever and determined to figure out what happened at Tabby's school filled with privileged, magical youth. "Magic for Liars" is extremely well written. Gailey draws you in right away. Once I started it, all I wanted to do was read this book straight through. The first thing I did after putting this book down was to look up Gailey's other books. I can't wait to read Gailey's next novel and I highly recommend this one.
    more
  • Mandy
    January 1, 1970
    Read for Book Riot Reader Harder Challenge: A novel by a trans or nonbinary author
  • Seth Turner
    January 1, 1970
    Murder mystery at magic school. High school clique drama. Engrossing noir detective inner monologues. Tough as nails detective. Twins reuniting from an estranged relationship. Secrets around every corner. If any or all these thoughts entice you, you’ll enjoy this debut by Sarah Gailey. Written with balance and humor, Gailey writes in a believable manner that keeps you wanting more. She opens it with a traditional scene of a gruesome murder and then develops the main character with ease. Using tr Murder mystery at magic school. High school clique drama. Engrossing noir detective inner monologues. Tough as nails detective. Twins reuniting from an estranged relationship. Secrets around every corner. If any or all these thoughts entice you, you’ll enjoy this debut by Sarah Gailey. Written with balance and humor, Gailey writes in a believable manner that keeps you wanting more. She opens it with a traditional scene of a gruesome murder and then develops the main character with ease. Using traditional noir formulas and tropes, she writes this very unique tale that will please anyone whose a fan of the urban fantasy genre and authors like Jim Butcher. Needless to say, it is a page turner with surprises that will not disappoint.
    more
  • Brooke
    January 1, 1970
    This book is seriously so good. Ivy is an amazing protagonist. Her emotions are so real and relatable. Her relationship with her sister and to this world of magic she isn't a part of are extremely compelling, as is the system of magic that Gailey has created. I'm fascinated by this world and I would love a whole detective series starring Ivy solving crimes in the mage community. Bonus points for a cute, realistic romance subplot.
    more
  • Anna Eklund
    January 1, 1970
    I want to be friends with Sarah Gailey. I love the way they view the world. From alternate history featuring heists and hippos to a new take on the "chosen one" trope that turns all detective tropes on various heads and asses: I am there for all of it.Ivy Gamble is a hard-drinking, no-qualms private investigator from the gritty part of town. She is approached by the headmaster of an elite magic academy to investigate the death of one of the teachers there (who was found, you know, in the Theoret I want to be friends with Sarah Gailey. I love the way they view the world. From alternate history featuring heists and hippos to a new take on the "chosen one" trope that turns all detective tropes on various heads and asses: I am there for all of it.Ivy Gamble is a hard-drinking, no-qualms private investigator from the gritty part of town. She is approached by the headmaster of an elite magic academy to investigate the death of one of the teachers there (who was found, you know, in the Theoretical Magic section of the library, um, SPLIT IN HALF). Ivy is hesitant to take the case, as it presses on old wounds: another teacher at the school is her long-estranged twin sister, who is the one of the family who has magic. Ivy herself never manifested magical ability, and has tried her whole life not to be bitter about it (with varying degrees of success). However, this is the chance to take on a real murder case, and the detective in Ivy is just too curious (and slightly self-destructive) to pass up the opportunity.What follows is an intriguing examination of the similarities and differences between magical and nonmagical teenagers, schools, and lifestyles. Ivy finds herself comparing the Ivy-that-is both to the Ivy-that-was and the Ivy-that-could-have-been, alongside her mind's inevitable comparisons to her sister. She has a chance to see what she has believed her whole life that she is missing, and whether that is actually better, easier, or in a neater package.And, you know, a violent murder to investigate. And various degrees of snarky, magical teenagers, one of whom may or may not be a Chosen One. And conspiracies. And magical theories. and nonmagical theories. And lots and lots of booze.I enjoyed this female-driven dive into urban fantasy detective noir. The mystery plot, to me, wasn't terribly complicated, but I enjoyed and was intrigued by the journey. I found the magical system and the way the magical world was set alongside our own fascinating. I related a lot to Ivy, with the interplay between how she once wanted her life to go and whether or not she was content with how she found her life to be, her blindspots (which I won't go into because many of the reasons I love her are somewhat spoiler-y), her penchant to drink too much wine, her desire to have books whisper to her, and her bravery in picking herself back up after every tumble. A fun read that, while not perfect or especially convoluted, nevertheless proved to be both enjoyable and thought-provoking.--[Jason, if you are reading this, you will Hate This Book (TM).]
    more
  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    I am so excited for everyone to read this, wow wow wow wow wow.Every reader I have ever been, from the 12-year-old whose favorite writer was Raymond Chandler to the tired lady who tries hard every day, loves everything about this book. Incisive on so many levels and a sheer joy to read.
    more
  • Em
    January 1, 1970
    Really good in unexpected ways - this isn’t so much a fantasy novel as it is a detective novel that tackles identity issues and has magic in it.
  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    This book presents as (urban fantasy) noir: a private investigator, who drinks too much to cope with her loneliness and alienation, is given the opportunity to move up from adulterous spouses and work on an actual murder mystery, at the magical school where her estranged twin sister teaches. She insists she's fine with the fact that her sister has magic and she doesn't. I spent some of the time nearly believing her, and I think she spent some of the time nearly believing herself. She's a deeply This book presents as (urban fantasy) noir: a private investigator, who drinks too much to cope with her loneliness and alienation, is given the opportunity to move up from adulterous spouses and work on an actual murder mystery, at the magical school where her estranged twin sister teaches. She insists she's fine with the fact that her sister has magic and she doesn't. I spent some of the time nearly believing her, and I think she spent some of the time nearly believing herself. She's a deeply flawed and broken person who I absolutely wanted to succeed, even though that seemed highly unlikely. There's some more tragic backstory of the kind that could happen in almost any family, which only makes it more effective; and there's a doomed romance with one of the other teachers. Doomed, because the PI tells herself that, for the sake of the investigation, she has to not reveal the fact that she has no magic... hence, I assume, the title, Magic for Liars. It pulls off the feat of being adjacent to a classic YA story - there's a prophecy about a Chosen One, and all kinds of teen magic-school drama and angst - without that story taking over, or even being taken all that seriously most of the time. There are some beautifully crafted phrases, like "It was like stealing candy from a big bowl of free candy surrounded by helpful multilingual signposts," or "the bags under my eyes were definitely well past the carry-on limit". There are herrings of a deep red hue (which had me completely fooled); terrible and wonderful moments of powerful magic; deliberately incomprehensible jargon that the PI pretends to understand, and that imply a complex and deep magical world; poignant interpersonal and intrapersonal moments; and an ending that, somewhat contrary to the noir tradition, holds out some hope (without revealing the outcome of the hope one way or the other). It's powerful, and expertly done, which is why I bumped it up to five stars. It isn't the kind of book that naturally leads to a sequel, but I would certainly read another book by this author, especially if it took place in the same world.The one significant criticism I have is that the pattern of "reluctant witness is about to finally give the PI a clue, someone interrupts" happens a bit too often.I received a pre-publication copy from Netgalley for review.
    more
  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars– I’d read this one described as “Tana French meet The Magicians”– and well, I’ve never read The Magicians, but swap that out for a grittier, Americanized, post-Harry Hogwartsian murder mystery, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect with this book. Somehow, Sarah Gailey manages to build an entirely believable, magical world all the while hooking you into a grisly schoolyard murder. Peppered with compelling backstories, family dynamics, a slightly-unlikeable-but-root-worthy pro 4.5 stars– I’d read this one described as “Tana French meet The Magicians”– and well, I’ve never read The Magicians, but swap that out for a grittier, Americanized, post-Harry Hogwartsian murder mystery, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect with this book. Somehow, Sarah Gailey manages to build an entirely believable, magical world all the while hooking you into a grisly schoolyard murder. Peppered with compelling backstories, family dynamics, a slightly-unlikeable-but-root-worthy protagonist, and I was all in. Thanks to the publisher for a chance to read a galley– I’ll be pressing this one into so many reader-friend hands once it releases in June!
    more
  • Zombi
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed it! But I felt for a mystery there weren't enough reader clues? I guess thats how it works sometimes. But it was kinda a run around between 3 characters and not enough solid evidence to have me believe it was any of them except character personalities and troupes. But it was a fun read(I also thought the romance was a little out of place? It didn't add much to the story and it felt very sudden. I don't think it hurt the story, but i think it helped either)
    more
  • Nadia Carrim
    January 1, 1970
    I read this whole book in one 7-hour burst!! It was so good. This is a great magic school murder mystery. Similar to The Magicians, but told from a detective’s perspective.
  • Leah (Jane Speare)
    January 1, 1970
    If you're in the mood for something odd, maybe with dark humor, some late night bar-visiting, and magic spells gone wrong, this book literally has it all. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked it up, but it continued to surprise me. Despite the murder-mystery plot, the dark humor side of it wins; imagine Jessica Jones falls grudgingly into the world of The Magicians, and you have the tone of Magic for Liars. It is creative and genre-breaking. A good read for the cynic as well as the daydrea If you're in the mood for something odd, maybe with dark humor, some late night bar-visiting, and magic spells gone wrong, this book literally has it all. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked it up, but it continued to surprise me. Despite the murder-mystery plot, the dark humor side of it wins; imagine Jessica Jones falls grudgingly into the world of The Magicians, and you have the tone of Magic for Liars. It is creative and genre-breaking. A good read for the cynic as well as the daydreamer.
    more
  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    I'm looking forward to the publication of this debut as I loved Gailey's novellas collected in AMERICAN HIPPO. This novel is part fantasy part mystery and reminded me of what I love most about fiction-- it doesn't have to fit in any single box. This is a thoughtful story that, at it's heart, is about family, the complexities of love, and growth. It's dark but not violent and would be a good first fantasy for readers who don't usually gravitate toward that genre. I loved Gailey's concept of magic I'm looking forward to the publication of this debut as I loved Gailey's novellas collected in AMERICAN HIPPO. This novel is part fantasy part mystery and reminded me of what I love most about fiction-- it doesn't have to fit in any single box. This is a thoughtful story that, at it's heart, is about family, the complexities of love, and growth. It's dark but not violent and would be a good first fantasy for readers who don't usually gravitate toward that genre. I loved Gailey's concept of magic! Think Grossman's MAGICIANS but not as brooding, or what happens when you have a murder investigation at Hogwarts.
    more
  • Mariana Calderon
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book! It's got a bitterness to it; it's dark and smart and full of magical suspense -- but it's still full of wonder. I loved Ivy's voice, completely and utterly okay with her sister Tabitha being magical, and also just such a liar, to herself and to everyone around her - sometimes for the job, sometimes for her own (questionable) well-being. I loved the mystery and the twist and the oh-so-privileged young mages who are even scarier than normal teenagers. I loved the magical theory I loved this book! It's got a bitterness to it; it's dark and smart and full of magical suspense -- but it's still full of wonder. I loved Ivy's voice, completely and utterly okay with her sister Tabitha being magical, and also just such a liar, to herself and to everyone around her - sometimes for the job, sometimes for her own (questionable) well-being. I loved the mystery and the twist and the oh-so-privileged young mages who are even scarier than normal teenagers. I loved the magical theory and the very very horrendous and fascinating method of magical surgery that appears in the book! It's all so dark and I want more.
    more
  • Alison
    January 1, 1970
    One of those books where finishing it feels like coming up for air, because the world & the characters pull you in so much, and it's all fascinating & the book is really good but something about it is strange in a way that it's maybe a little bit suffocating. You know?
    more
  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Tor Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.At the very beginning, Magic for Liars intrigued me. The prologue starts in a magical school – half high school, half Hogwarts – then in chapter one we’re transported to a delightfully film noir atmosphere as we’re introduced to Ivy Gamble. From page one, the atmosphere in this book was spot on, and it’s the type of book Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Tor Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.At the very beginning, Magic for Liars intrigued me. The prologue starts in a magical school – half high school, half Hogwarts – then in chapter one we’re transported to a delightfully film noir atmosphere as we’re introduced to Ivy Gamble. From page one, the atmosphere in this book was spot on, and it’s the type of book that immediately draws you in.Throughout, the atmosphere, setting, and magic remains intriguing. Explanations of the magical system are simple to understand, but complex enough to be impressive. There’s a good balance of magic and reality to make the whole novel feel balanced in that respect, although the noir feel fades. Ivy’s head is an interesting place to be when she’s coherent.That’s sort of where it all stops.The characters in this novel were not deep or interesting enough to be memorable. There’s a Chosen One prophecy that’s underwhelming and the characters involved do not generally impress enough to make me care about the subplot. Some of the teachers at the school had potential, but they don’t have enough stage time to develop – the creepy English teacher, the supposedly ravishing love interest, the school administrator who is one of the best healers in their age, on it goes. As for Ivy herself… half the story she’s dead drunk and the other half of the time she’s too busy being insecure about being non-magical that I honestly don’t know how she got anything done at all. All of the crime solving bits are in a drunken haze, and as a reader, I felt a bit cheated out of the good parts.As plot goes, this was utterly predictable. You can pretty much guess the whodunnit from the beginning, which just leaves the trail of clues to make the journey enjoyable. As I said, most the solving was done in bits and pieces when Ivy’s dank and only half-focused, so that’s not really developed. There’s a romantic subplot, a sibling subplot, and a Chosen One subplot, but in all these Gailey stretched themselves too thin and flat characters plus unexplained outbursts just make these a bit exhausting.I very much enjoyed the magical explanations, and for those at least, I’m not disappointed for having read Magic for Liars. It’s a light read, and certainly leans to something more New Adult to Adult than YA, but generally speaking, it entertained enough. I think those who read and enjoyed School for Psychics would enjoy it, or anyone who likes a bit of a light paranormal investigative story.
    more
  • Fraser Simons
    January 1, 1970
    The expectations I had for the book may have led to the 4 stars instead of 5 stars. While it is a murder mystery...the majority of the fiction is dedicated to non-magical and P.I Ivy's past, and the state of her traumatic and complex relationship with her magical twin sister. Estranged from her at a young age, taking this case dredges up unresolved feelings beneath the issues that inform Ivy's life. Fitting within the P.I mold, Ivy has some... bad habits, particularly alcohol as a coping mechani The expectations I had for the book may have led to the 4 stars instead of 5 stars. While it is a murder mystery...the majority of the fiction is dedicated to non-magical and P.I Ivy's past, and the state of her traumatic and complex relationship with her magical twin sister. Estranged from her at a young age, taking this case dredges up unresolved feelings beneath the issues that inform Ivy's life. Fitting within the P.I mold, Ivy has some... bad habits, particularly alcohol as a coping mechanism. I liked that this trope actually had some heavy bearing on the majority of the fiction. Sometimes it's just a given that a P.I has these coping mechanisms and it's sort of handwaved. Ivy dredges up her own past in a peripheral way when she takes the case at the same magical school her estranged sister goes to. Both never truly dealt with some seriously heavy issues in high school, and they start to reconnect as the investigation proceeds. There is an unreliable narrator aspect of the story that does a bit too much hand waving for my tastes, though. Ivy doesn't have a very professional approach to the case, in that she inserts herself into some of the people's lives in a way that completely compromises her investigation. It's a trade-off. There's a lot of interesting drama and the writer is fantastic at expressing Ivy's inner thoughts and feelings--and tying them to the unfolding narrative. My quibbles are small. There was a satisfying ending, it's well written and interesting. But I'm a sucker for magic systems and the title sort of implies there's going to be one? Instead, it's essentially just if you're magic, you "get it"; if you're not magical--you just will not get it. It was very unsatisfying. This, along with the unreliable narrator aspects that hand waves a bit too much, downgraded my rating. Ultimately I really liked the overall tone that was coupled with a believable sense of honesty that comes with the unreliable narrator aspects. It's very heavy and quite sad. I liked that the expected catharsis that comes along with these types of stories was elegant and, again, quite honest. It's a messy ending and I really liked that about it.Thanks to Netgalley for giving me the chance to read the unedited version of the book in exchange for an honest review!
    more
  • Colby
    January 1, 1970
    Magic for Liars is Sarah Gailey’s answer to detective noir, murder mysteries, and magical schools, and from the moment I heard of it, it’s been one of my most anticipated books of the year. In anticipation, I’ve spent this year reading all of Gailey’s work that I could get my hands on and, much like their short fiction and novellas, Magic for Liars is cleverly written, darkly humorous, brilliantly insightful, and impossible to put down. Gailey casts their own spell with the premise alone: privat Magic for Liars is Sarah Gailey’s answer to detective noir, murder mysteries, and magical schools, and from the moment I heard of it, it’s been one of my most anticipated books of the year. In anticipation, I’ve spent this year reading all of Gailey’s work that I could get my hands on and, much like their short fiction and novellas, Magic for Liars is cleverly written, darkly humorous, brilliantly insightful, and impossible to put down. Gailey casts their own spell with the premise alone: private investigator Ivy Gamble gets asked to solve a gruesome murder at Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged and magically gifted twin sister Tabitha teaches. From the moment Ivy takes the case, the story spirals into a character-driven exploration of nuanced sibling relationships, the pressures and expectations of magic, realistic high school drama, and how to heal from and process the difficulties, choices, and traumas of life—magical or otherwise. The narrative carried a heartbreaking emotional weight that I wasn’t always prepared for and yet, at the same time, this was the most fun I’ve had reading a novel this year. This book takes an obscene amount of my interests and manages to combine them into a beautiful, coherent narrative that feels like it shouldn’t work—but it does. I left this book longing to return to the magic and secrets of Osthorne, despite everything I’d seen, and I’m confident that any reader who picks this up will find something to love about it. I’m already eagerly awaiting whatever Gailey decides to write next and when Magic for Liars releases in June, I’ll already be shoving it into the hands of everyone I know. Thank you to NetGalley and Tor/Forge for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Leah Rachel von Essen
    January 1, 1970
    Magic for Liars is the debut novel from Sarah Gailey, the author of novella series American Hippo and of one of my favorite short stories of all-time, “STET.” It’s a detective story featuring Ivy Gamble, a Muggle of sorts investigating a crime at a more realistic Hogwarts, the high school for magic users where her magical twin sister teaches theoretical magic.Ivy is a liar. A private investigator who has built brick walls around herself, she tells herself she’s happy alone. That she isn’t jealou Magic for Liars is the debut novel from Sarah Gailey, the author of novella series American Hippo and of one of my favorite short stories of all-time, “STET.” It’s a detective story featuring Ivy Gamble, a Muggle of sorts investigating a crime at a more realistic Hogwarts, the high school for magic users where her magical twin sister teaches theoretical magic.Ivy is a liar. A private investigator who has built brick walls around herself, she tells herself she’s happy alone. That she isn’t jealous of her magic sister. That she knows how to handle a murder case, and how to flirt with the physical magic teacher Rahul. She lets students and teachers both believe that she knows the vocabulary of magic. She loses herself in the case, recoiling at the ways these teens use their power—to dye their hair, to bully, to pass notes—and at the ways magic both does and doesn’t change how people are, at their core. The book spins and circles, making you guess at where it’s going, often leading you down false paths and unexpected turns. It’s a satisfying story especially for its story of sisterhood and hurt and the ways we never truly let people go, and of Ivy’s quest to learn what she’s capable of, if she can just stand straight enough to face the truth. A fun romp of a mystery, with a great sense of humor and a distinct, new concept of magic that was a pleasure to pick apart.I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Magic for Liars is out on shelves on June 4.
    more
Write a review