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Book Review – Magic for Liars

September 24, 2019

Book Review – Magic for Liars

Magic for Liars Book Cover
Magic for Liars Macmillian Publishers 336 Pages Source

| Book Review – Spoilers possible, tread lightly | 

Goodreads Synopsis – 

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. (Source)

Where I Found it

I first heard of Magic for Liars and in the same regard as I heard of Sarah Gailey – good ol’ twitter. The writing community on twitter can be an amazing, supportive bunch if you follow the right people. I’ve been following Gailey for a few years now and watching someone else’s progress can be a highly motivational experience as well. I hadn’t read anything by them so I decided to see if the online library that I have a card to had something in stock. Just my luck it was Magic for Liars and I got put on the waiting list. Wasn’t long and I was finally reading it. 

Favorite Part

I think my favorite part or parts I should say of the book was how in detail it went in the medical side of magic. It’s not something that you really consider, unless you’re JK Rowling tweeting extra tidbits of the wizarding world. That even though these beings have that something extra about them, they are still susceptible to very human ailments. And I love that Gailey didn’t make it easy peasy to cure cancer or just automatically fix someone. That would be something I would just assume is possible but adding that extra layer or intrigue was captivating to me. 


I loved the conflict in this book. It was very clear, never a time where I was confused or thought that continuity was an issue. I also love when I’m reading a suspense novel and they have twists and turns that I can’t automatically see through. When theres a who-dun-it aspect to a story and I think I have it figured out but in reality there could be several people that “dun it” is awesome to me. Too many times I’m watching a crime show and have it figured out before the second act. It makes it a lot less enjoyable to for me because I’m constantly ruining it for myself. 

Turning Point

I think at the peak of the climax for this story had the added benefit of having that additional layer of family drama mixed in. Not everyone can relate to a magical school with a magical murder but I would say a good majority of readers could understand family drama. I think being able to connect to the reader on an emotional level at some point in a book is crucial to them understanding the characters. 

This also added to the turning point because you find out how ingrained her sister is in this magical mystery. She acts like she has it all together, and Ivy certainly has always felt second best compared to her sister, but not everything is as it seems. Even the most perfectly put together person that has great grades and a great job can have terrible things happen to them. 

Similar Reads

Magic for Liars is if Harry Potter met a Karin Slaughter novel. I absolutely adore all three of these things so it seems like a win-win-win to me. Just enough suspense but with the added bonus of a magic school where the kids are special is more ways than one. As I mentioned above, the medical side of magic, even though technically not real, had enough real life influence that I’m sure the research took awhile. I love authors that care so much about their art that they use the knowledge the learn to add to the story. This reminds me of Slaughter in that regard because she always has well researched medical notes, especially in her Will Trenton books. 

About the Author

Hugo award winner Sarah Gailey is an internationally published writer of fiction and nonfiction. Their nonfiction has been published by Mashable and the Boston Globe, and they are a regular contributor for and Barnes & Noble. Their most recent fiction credits include Fireside Fiction,, and The Atlantic. Their debut novella, River of Teeth, was published in 2017 via and was a 2018 Hugo and Nebula award finalist. Their adult novel debut, Magic For Liars, was published by Tor Books in June 2019. Their Young Adult novel debut, When We Were Magic, will be published by Simon Pulse in Spring 2020. You can find links to their work at; find them on social media @gaileyfrey.



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