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Magic for Liars

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,516 ratings  ·  447 reviews
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 fac
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Tor
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Sarah Gailey No, Magic for Liars is a standalone. :)
Sarah Gailey
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,516 ratings  ·  447 reviews

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Meredith B.  (readingwithmere)
4 stars!

It might take a little while to get there, but I'll tell you everything, and I'll tell you the truth. As best I can. I used to lie, but when I tell you the story, you'll understand why I had to lie. You'll understand that I didn't have a choice. I just wanted to do my job.

This was a fun read for me! 1. I got to read something that's completely out of my comfort zone - sci-fi and fantasy (with a bit of mystery) 2. I got to buddy read this with my husband!

Ivy is a detective but right now
Elise (TheBookishActress)
Sep 27, 2017 marked it as releases-2019
"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
Lisa Wolf
Magic For Liars may be set at a school of magic, but we're on notice from the very first page that this is not THAT kind of school:
Now they were all downstairs at the welcome-back dinner, an all-staff-all-students meal that marked the end of the first week of classes. They'd joke there about house-elves and pumpkin juice -- or at least the freshmen would. By the time they were sophomores, that vein of humor was worn beyond use.

After a bloody murder at Osthorne Academy for Young Mages (located in
Magic for Liars isn't what I expected it to be. I had impressions from other early readers that it would be along the lines of a murder-mystery in Hogwarts, which turned out to be less-than-accurate. Instead, Magic for Liars is about the lies we tell ourselves, and each other. It is about the disastrous things that result from these lies, no matter how well-meaning they were, or how innocent they seemed. 

It begins with the gruesome death of a staff member at The Osthorne Academy for Young Mages.
This time was going to be different. This time was going to be better. This time, I was going to be enough.

Like so many of us readers, Ivy Gamble never had the chance to go to magic school and experience a magical fix for everything wrong in her life. Unlike most of us, she's not really allowed to put the dream aside and move on with life - her twin sister does get that, from her teenage perspective, and when this story begins years later, she's now a hard drinking, hard living PI, who resolutel
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
The Captain
Jun 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: walk-the-plank
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

I was excited to read this full-length novel from the author who brought us hippo cowboys.  This is a murder mystery set in a magical school.  Ivy is a professional PI that spends her time investigating cheaters and such.  She has always been upset that her twin sister got the magic and glory and she got the grit and mundane.  But this murder mystery could be th
Janet Newport
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
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!

I received an ARC from BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review!

CW: murder, abortion, cancer, alcohol abuse, and bullying

For me, this was a case of coverly love that turned into more intrigue when I read the First Look that BookishFirst gave.

Ivy Gamble is a private investigator. Usually, she looks for cheating spouses and other little things like that. But, one day, someone comes knocking on her door. There’s been a murder at a magic school that her
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A thrilling, thoughtful, funny, cutting, and heartbreaking mystery. Like Harry Potter meets Mean Girls by way of Broadchurch.
Cupcakes & Machetes
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 out of 5 stars

I received this copy from the publisher via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review.

Ivy Gamble is a small time private investigator who deals with mostly, disability fraud and spouse cheating cases. Today, however, the local school of magic has approached her to investigate the death of a teacher, first ruled an accident. The principle of the school suspects that it was actually murder, and she can’t sleep until she gets a second opinion.

Ivy need the money, and the notori
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019

I gobbled this up in a day and that readability and the premise are definitely the strongest pieces here. It's a mystery set at a magic school, I mean come on. I was sold immediately. The overall experience was good, but not great.

Because our protagonist was non-magic, it allowed Gailey to handwave over some of her world-building and some of the rules of magic. I was mostly okay with that while reading-- Ivy didn't understand things so we didn't understand things. After reading, I was more awar
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookish-first
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
Darcia Helle
I love the combination of magic with a PI and a murder case, so I was looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, I didn't love the book as much as I love the concept.

I have low tolerance for characters (and people) who wallow in self-pity. Ivy, the PI and narrator of this story, is queen of the 'woe is me' category. Her whining is a constant throughout the story. I wanted to give her a shake and tell her to grow up, though with less polite wording.

I loved the way the magic was handled.
Sarah Hollowell
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favorites
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
Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)
This review is going to come down to one sentence: you need to go read Magic for Liars right now!

Ivy Gamble is perfectly ordinary. She’s a PI with a drinking problem, an empty apartment, no social life, and not even the slightest trace of magic. In that, she’s completely different from her estranged sister Tabitha who spent their childhood at a magical boarding school at which she now teaches. Ivy hasn’t talked to Tabitha in years, and she both resents Tabitha’s magical gifts and longs for a clo
Nerdette Podcast
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A muggle private eye is asked to find out who killed a teacher at the school for mages where her magic twin sister is a teacher. So, obviously it’s a great book. 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
Jackie ϟ Bookseller
4/5 stars

I received and ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

"Fucking magic."

A brief review because I'm not in a review-writing mood, but I really enjoyed this and still want to share what a fun little read Magic for Liars is. Ivy Gamble is a private investigator. Her sister is a mage, and she is not. This fact has ground her down for most of her 30-odd years. When a teacher is found dead at the same magic school where Ivy's sister works, Ivy takes on the job of solving the murder.
I have read this author's American Hippo series as well as her Fisher of Bones serial, but it looks like this is her full-length novel debut. I thought it was a very engaging story and ended up being so interested in the mystery aspect of it that I read it in only two days. Some parts I thought were a bit obvious but I did have the killer pinned down to two people and one of them was the correct choice. I did not get the motive anywhere near right, but thinking back through the text there were d ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2019
between 3 and 4, because I loved the idea of this book and the setting, but also because it was not all that surprising to me. I wanted to not see things coming, to be surprised by twists, but I wasn't really. Though might not be the case for everyone!

Edit: lowering to 2 because I'm still a bit uneasy with the way the book seems to scorn (not sure that's the right word?) at teenagers and lots of other annoying thing I keep thinking about
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magic for Liars is about the choices we make every day without knowing it. When we keep thinking they aren't choices but they are - the ones that seem infinitesimal ones all the way to the big ones. It's a story about sisters and the relationships of petty lies - the little pranks that scar us - and a relationship with vast chasms and silence you can't cross, regrets breathed out in hushed moments. Written in the perspective of looking backwards, Magic for Liars is almost ominous and looming, ab ...more
Harry Jahnke
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jiny S
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ivy is the sister without any magic, unlike her magical twin, Tabitha, who went to a magic school for mages and later became a teacher of theoretical magic. When their mother suffered and died from cancer, Ivy was left behind with the not-so-glorious PI job, a still-in-denial drinking problem, and an eternal bitterness that she was not special enough to do magic like her sister.

One day and out of the blue, the Headmaster of Tabitha’s school approached Ivy with a case of a gruesome death of a wel
lady victoriana
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
Magic for Liars is a propulsive, gripping thriller that walks a fine line between hardboiled noir and whimsical urban fantasy. Ivy Gamble, a PI working out of a seedy Oakland office, is hired to solve a magical murder at the school where her magical sister works. Ivy takes the well-paying job, but struggles to deal with her bitterness and resentment over her lack of magical powers. Ivy is such a wonderful character - not always totally likable, very flawed, mired in self-pity - but I adored her ...more
I loved this book and the main character. It was one of those books you can't bring yourself to finish because it'll be over. Not so sure about The Magicians meets Tana French comparison. I hated The Magicians and love Tana French, but I don't really see the resemblance to either. It seemed much closer in style and tone to VE Schwab's work, especially her Vicious series. Either way, if you like fantasy and especially urban fantasy, you'll probably enjoy this. I will absolutely be seeking out mor ...more
Taryn Pierson
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I haven't read very many fantasy/mystery mashups, but now I want to scent them all out like a hound dog because this was a fabulous reading experience. I loved the setting of a private school for mages paired with Ivy, the adult outsider narrator, because frankly I can only take so much teenage drama. This way you get the fun setting but the angsty bullshit is filtered through a snarky, tough-but-damaged-inside PI who is not going to be drawn in by the schoolkid shenanigans (or is she?). Tons of ...more
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
i really enjoyed reading this, the characters are great and it's made exclusively of my favorite things, and also i think she fundamentally misunderstands the moral foundations of noir
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
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-paper
If Alice Hoffman and JK Rowling had a novel lovechild, that book might be Hugo Award-winning writer Sarah Gailey's novel debut, Magic for Liars. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

When we first meet Ivy Gamble, she's busy being mugged and getting slashed accidentally in the arm by her clumsy mugger's knife. Her day only goes downhill from there. That's really saying something considering she gets hired for the biggest paycheck job of her career as a private investigator. The job comes with all sorts
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