Short Review #18: Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey (2019)

Review: 3 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: Magic For Liars: A Novel
Author: Sarah Gailey
Published: 2019 (Tor Books, New York)
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Urban Fantasy, Magic, Adult, LGBT
CW: magic, alcoholism, cancer, light gore, teen issues
Link Here

My borrowed copy of Magic For Liars by some candles… it felt appropriate at the time

This book was a real interesting one, if I do say so myself. And side note: I love the cover. To continue my journey into spooky book season, this week I finished Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey. This is the first book I’ve read by Gailey. I kept seeing a lot about her latest book recently called Upright Women Wanted. And after reading Magic For Liars, I might have to give that one a chance as well!

People didn’t stick because I was made of f*cking Teflon. I’d always told myself that it was better that way, that being alone was easier. That I wasn’t a coward for easing my way out of friendships before they could really start” – Sarah Gailey, Magic For Liars

Magic For Liars was a lot less magical than I thought it was going to be. The plot focuses on Ivy Gamble, a fairly successful private investigator working out of the Bay Area, and is not living the most ideal life, but is content with her drinking problem and life alone. When a faculty member is murdered at an exclusive school for magically-able kids or mages, Ivy is hired to investigate the crime after the governing magic police rules it as a ‘spell gone wrong’. It gets complicated though, because Ivy’s estranged twin sister Tabitha is a teacher at the school, and was born magically-able, while Ivy is and considers herself not special. As Ivy gets closer to solving the murder, she expands upon understanding herself, her hangups, and her relationship with Tabitha. Magic For Liars is a thrilling, and magical mystery filled with all the typical twists and turns of a thriller, while keeping the reader guessing about the magic itself.

“’It’s a lot like sticking your hand into a black box that may or may not have cobras in it’ I blinked. ‘That’s the most coherent explanation of magic I’ve ever heard’” – Sarah Gailey, Magic For Liars

I enjoyed this book overall! It was not as fantastical as I thought it was going to be. It didn’t have the otherworldly fantasy elements of the Harry Potter series, even though this takes place in a school openly filled with magic. The mystery was compelling, and the book was a quick read. Magical realism is the best phrase I can think of for summarizing this book. The plot doesn’t fully submerse the reader into a magical universe, and it keeps its toes into the real world and real world problems. The plot derives the focus on Ivy, the normal, not-magical character, and her views of the magical school. I also liked the LGBT representation in this book as well, and thought it was well-done. The novel had the feel of a YA novel, but with slightly more adult themes and relationships, and less about the teenagers of the school. Maybe that’s because the story does contain quite a bit of teen issues that makes it read like a YA novel.

Why should you read this book? If you enjoy urban fantasy novels with a dark twist along with a magically gripping adventure, this is the book for you. I was surprised by the lack of more magical elements… like floating staircases, flying brooms or moving paintings. I know the title of this book indicates that this book already contains dark humor and looming situations, but if the topics I mentioned in the CW are difficult for you, I would be wary of this novel.

I give this a 3 out of 5!


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