Title: Magic for Liars
Author: Sarah Gailey
Date Published: June 4, 2019
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.
*Trigger Warnings: Violent Deaths & Abortion
Hello there, allies, archenemies and, everyone in between! Magic for Liars is by far the best book that I’ve read this year without any interruptions. It’s thrilling and oddly entertaining; it also reminded me so much of Jessica Jones’ (aka my favorite badass Marvel character) sleuthing only this time, in a magical setting that screamed major Hogwarts vibes. If that isn’t enough explanation for you to go and read this then let me break it all down why Magic for Liars is THE BOMB.
Humorous writing style matched with fast pacing.
These two elements combined hooked me in the core that I just can’t sleep if I did not finish reading it uninterrupted. Gailey’s writing style has such a unique flavor and she brandishes her metaphors in a not-so-flowery way yet it still manages to bloom in odd lovable ways. Take these quotes for example:
The drought-impossible velvety green lawn that surrounded the school looked like frosting waiting to have a finger run through it.
…mist was draped across the school grounds like a headache clinging to the temples of a mildly concussed and half-hungover private investigator
And my favorite of all:
The drive through the Sunol hills was as beautiful as the novocaine that comes before the drill.
Take note that the ones I quoted here are not even important shifts in the story but simply just a description. Maybe I’m just so fcking easy to please right but I digress; Gailey’s writing brings a fresh whiff of magic that I have never seen in other books before and I’m very much happy to gobble it all up in one sitting.
Other than her writing style, Magic for Liars easily propels us to the nitty-gritty of the plot without compromising the characters’ development and relationship dynamics. It draws you in instantly and never wavers with its fast yet consistent pacing. It just develops the thrill organically until it ripens right on time without any haphazard shortcuts. It’s a wonderful experience and basically the best aspects you’d want in a mystery novel.
Blends magical realism in the story without ever steering the meat of the plot to it.
This book is bound to at least explain the world building because of that glaringly obvious title and, I was pleasantly surprised how it only became a secondary factor here than potentially stealing the plot’s thunder. We only get to delve in the technical aspect in such an easy yet effective way in small to medium increments and that’s one thing I really love here. Here’s one quote that adeptly depicts the school’s magic system in terms of the students’ perspective:
So, yes, there was magic. But even the magic was distinctly teenager magic. There was something in the flavor of it that spoke to a desperate lostness, a struggle to self define; an occassional lunge toward the juvenile that said, We still get to be kids, right?
Executes dialogues and monologues in a neat flourish that leaves you wanting for more interaction.
This was easily the best thing here! Since it’s obviously a murder mystery, our MC, Ivy Gamble has to eventually interview witnesses or potential suspects. What I find interesting about it though, was how we get to probe with Ivy as she picks on the interviewee’s mannerisms, motivations, and manipulations. It’s like being in Sherlock’s head when confronted with danger and he analyzes every element present. It’s very classic detective stuff and I even loved Ivy’s character more because of how she carefully sets up her traps and reads people.
A social commentary on the fragility of sisterhood, ones’ sense of identity and, abortion
An ache gripped my chest, sudden and overwhelming. That’s my sister. Even after everything–even with everything that was still between us, that would probably always be between us–she was my sister. I was born reaching for her.
I honestly cried in the parts where Ivy and Tabitha’s relationship was examined here because it reminded me sometimes of the distance between me and my sister. (We are definitely closer than these two though!) It reflected a lot of conflicts that sisters usually experience i.e. perpetual comparison and competition. This book also shows us how intoxicating it is to live double lives and cling to the desperation of it coming true. This hit close to home and I find myself teary-eyed looking at my sister while reading this. Good thing she’s fast asleep so I don’t get any weird faces from her!
The aspect of abortion is actually a major spoiler here but I really have to include it because of its importance and for trigger warnings. This was actually the first book I’ve read that has this representation and it was in some way divulges on how people view abortion as an immoral act without ever thinking on the repercussions it has on the girl. I liked that we get to see women supporting women in this book when it comes to this sensitive matter because it NEEDS TO BE SAID. Women need to have a choice, and maybe taking a baby’s life would be strongly questionable to some, but it’s a whole different picture when you’re the one who is actually carrying the baby in such a young age. I’m kinda touchy here because I know a friend who has been in this place and it was such an eye-opener for me. I hope you open your eyes too when you read this.
Ruefully entertaining and ripe for the taking.
I read this in one sitting and I was exhilarated when I finished it! The clincher of this murder mystery will manipulate you to no end because at one point I swear I was ready to be disappointed with its predictability. Oh was I so wrong. This is again the best books that I’ve read this year and I’ll definitely be watching out for more of Sarah Gailey’s future books! Can you believe that this is actually her debut?
- Have you read Magic for Liars? If so, what did you think of it?
- Do you watch Jessica Jones? FANGIRL WITH ME PLEASE.
- What’s one thing you think you’ll like in this book?