Book Review: Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey (ARC)

Magic for Liars

Author: Sarah Gailey

Publication Date: 04 Jun 2019

Genre: Adult – Fantasy

Pages: 336

Publisher: Tor Books

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.

The book opens with a graphic murder scene where Sylvia, a professor at Osthorne Academy whose body lies in two separate pieces on a blood stained carpet.

Ivy Gamble is a private investigator that usually specializes in typical cases like cheating spouses and disability fraud. Everything changes when Ivy is called to investigate the death of a professor at the local magic school. The death was ruled as an accident, but the headmistress (who prefers to be called headmaster) is convinced that foul play is at hand and seeks out Ivy for a second consult.

While Ivy is a bit hesitant about pursuing the case, the money and the potential exposure is too good to pass up even if her estranged sister Tabitha is one of the professors on staff as well. Tabitha may have been off studying magic instead of trying to save their mother who was dying of cancer, but Ivy would have to look past her anger and resentment in order to crack this case…her first murder case.

The first half of this book had me hooked. I was drawn to the idea of solving a murder mystery at a magical academy, especially when this book was compared to The Magicians, which is one of my all-time favorites. While I enjoyed watching Ivy immerse herself into the investigation and build rapport with the other characters in the book, I definitely found her character to be a bit trying at times since she tends to adopt the “woe is me” mentality. However, watching the animosity and mistrust between Ivy and Tabitha slowly start to peel away was refreshing, since I love siblings trying to come together especially after tragic circumstances.

One thing that I wish this book focused more on was the magic. The magic tends to be more in the background of the story rather than at the forefront. I would say that the murder mystery is definitely the main focus of the story, but the author the opportunity to really build the magic element more. There’s definitely some in this book, but I wanted more.

As Ivy delves further into the investigation, the twists and turns in the case definitely kept me interested. But…what made this book 3.5 stars instead of higher was the ending. I just felt that this story had a lot of potential and was the tension had the perfect build, but the ending felt rushed and was a bit of a let down for me.

Thank you Bookish First and Tor Books for the ARC. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.


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