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Magic for Liars

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  17,309 ratings  ·  2,879 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 fa
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Tor
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Popular Answered Questions
Smote I can't edit my question but y'all, I've read the book now and the author has answered my question. There's especially no reason for people to keep co…moreI can't edit my question but y'all, I've read the book now and the author has answered my question. There's especially no reason for people to keep commenting unhelpful or sarcastic replies.

I asked this question originally because I am a queer person who runs a lgbtq library. I wanted to figure out if this was a book I should pre-order/include in our display for the library since Gailey's previous works I had read are also part of our collection because they contain lgbtq content.

This is a legitimate question that shouldn't need to be explained and doesn't require the wild amount of replies both here and as DMs to my inbox.

If there's extra context you'd like to add, go ahead! But if you're just commenting to be a butt about the question, please spend your time and energy doing something helpful and kind for someone today! (less)
Sarah Gailey No, Magic for Liars is a standalone. :)

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Average rating 3.65  · 
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chai ♡
Ivy Gamble is not magic.

She will not be whisked away to train in a magician’s school where she will have all the glory her teeth can snatch. She is not the Chosen One, standing over her peers like a towering peak—all the possibilities of life, death, and magic spinning in her head. Instead, she will end up dragging her hopes behind her like a chastised child dragging her stuffed bear thumping up the stairs. Her life will settle into a humdrum rhythm, and some forty years later, she will be scrap
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
(2.75) Murder mystery in a magical school? Sounds right up my alley!

Sadly I ended up being a bit bored. The story simply wasn't very memorable.
Elle (ellexamines)
Magic for Liars follows private investigator Ivy Gamble as she investigates a death in the Osthorne Academy for Young Mages, the workplace of her sister and a location she has envied for years. While she’s living a life she thinks of as simple, her sister is a famous and talented teacher. It is a murder mystery wrapped up in an interesting commentary on chosen one tropes and sibling rivalry, and it had me engrossed from start to finish.

The thing I find the most entertaining about this book, in
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
Christina - Recipe & a Read
2, how did a Veronica Mars/Harry Potter mash up end up flopping so hard stars!

Full review featured on my blog Recipe and a Read!

Ivy and Tabitha Gamble are twins. They share parents, DNA, a home and a childhood full of beautiful, loving and happy memories. What they don’t share, is magic. Tabitha (Tabby), Ivy’s twin sister is gifted with powers beyond either of their imaginations and upon their inception Tabby is whisked away to a modern day Hogwarts and eventually begins teaching Theoretical Ma
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 n
Virginie *No more time to write reviews for the moment :( *
This book didn't work well for me... I wasn't really interested by what was going on.

It was very predictable, but I wanted to finish it just in case, you know? In case something incredible would happen and the ending would satisfy me.

The story lacked the magic feeling I was looking for. I skipped the parts where the spells were explained, I thought it was too complicated and it didn't mean anything to me.

On the positive side, I appreciated reading about Ivy's relationships with her sister and w
Sonja Arlow
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-read, fantasy
2.5 stars

What a bipolar reading experience this was.

Initially I was doubtful that a story set in a magic school would interest me but once I started I REALLY enjoyed it…… until I didn’t.

It’s such a pity that Ivy turned out to kill my joy with her incessant whining and insecurities about her inability to do magic. The author repeated this fact one too many times for my liking.

What I do think was done well is the way the complex relationship between Ivy and her twin sister Tabitha was portrayed.

Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The cover and synopsis and title of the novel were all immediately intriguing to me. Magic for Liars is a murder mystery on a magical high school campus, told from the perspective of the nonmagical private eye who finds herself on the case. You can see why I was intrigued, right? Noir novels can be very hit or miss, but this one was definitely a hit. It was everything I was hoping for, and more than I was expecting.

Ivy Gamble is a wonderfully developed character. She comes across a bit as a down
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.
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
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
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
The Artisan Geek
Pretty good! I enjoyed the goriness of bodies being exploded, but the story didn't feel all that believable to me. Imagine going to Hogwarts as a muggle and people not knowing you didn't have an ounce of magic in you -- you wouldn't even be able to talk yourself out of your lack of knowledge...

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
A non-magic (muggle) detective is called to Osthorne Academy for Young Mages (Hogwarts) to investigate the mysterious and gruesome death of one of their teachers. It's also where her sister teaches, so it brings up all sorts of memories and what-ifs for her own life.

I would say within the work of this author, I prefer the alternate history hippos, but this had some clever ideas in it. And it takes place largely in a library. But I hear their next book has a librarian MC so I'm looking forward to
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.
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, own, mysteries
Remember when The Magicians came on the scene and it was touted as "Harry Potter for Grownups" but was actually "Someone's Bitter They Never Got to Go to Hogwarts or Narnia?"

This book is ACTUALLY Harry Potter for Grownups! With a healthy dose of Hardboiled PI Investigates Murder!

Ivy Gamble is basically Petunia Dursley: the sister of a gifted mage, who had to suffer through the slings and arrows of regular high school, while her twin went to Super Special Magic School and came home prettier . . .
Frank Phillips
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars rounded up. Very solid read! This reminded me of a more mature, slightly less fantastical version of Harry Potter, mainly because of the fact this takes place in a school for magic. Our protagonist is what Potter fans would call a muggle, she has no magic, and she is contracted to investigate the murder of a professor at this wonderful School of magic, and what's her twin sister also works at. This had the obvious element of mystery, as we are trying to figure out who dunnit throughout ...more
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
I really enjoyed reading this. A mystery set at a magic school is right up my alley, particularly because the detective, Ivy, is distinctively non-magical and has to solve a case at the school where her estranged twin is teaching. I liked Ivy's voice, and I was particularly drawn into the descriptions of how ordinary the magical high school is (there are several passages about Being a Teenager that rang true and that I appreciated). The author gets away with never quite explaining the rules of t ...more
Hiu Gregg
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a bit of a strange book. It's slow paced in the extreme, and overflowing with mundane description. I'm talking "a few sentences to describe a hand on a doorknob" stuff. And yet...

The level of description did mean that it took me a while to fully immerse myself in the book, but that when I did, I really was immersed in the main character and her story. I've a love for broken things, and this is a story about a broken person trying to mend a broken relationship with her twin sis
Mellie Antoinette
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Magical magicians mysteriously manipulating murderous shenanigans.

Possibly perjerous PIs pandering to perilous culminations.

In short, this couldn’t have been better if Stephen Fry wrote it! 🎩 🧙🏻‍♀️🔮🕵🏻‍♀️🕯
Ross Blocher
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
In Magic for Liars, private investigator Ivy Gamble is pulled from her usual beat of tailing cheating spouses into her first homicide investigation, located at a high school for magical children. One of the teachers happens to be her estranged sister, who inherited all of the family's powers and left Ivy with some emotional hangups around magic. Any similarities to, say, Harry Potter quickly disapparate. The school is nestled in contemporary northern California. No castles. Nobody carries magic ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, fantasy

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
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
I desperately wanted to love it. It was a tragedy in the making.

First, some things I liked
Rahul, the main love interest: He must be protected
Magic teenagers being teenagers: YES magic teens would definitely use their magic for the most utterly juvenile things, including lots of penis clouds. A very strong bit of world building from Gailey.

And then... the bad
Alas, ear wax: I find it... insufferable when books reference Harry Potter more than the teensiest amount. This book was, in part, a correc
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Ivy Gamble is a private investigator and completely non-magical. Her twin sister Tabitha is magical and a teacher at a magic school. They have a strained relationship for all sorts of reasons, but bitter envy is definitely one of them. When there's a murder at Tabitha's school and Ivy gets called in to investigate after the magic police dismiss the case, Ivy has to confront her difficult relationship with both magic and her sister, all while trying to find a murderer.

As a murder mystery, this is
Jun 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
First, let me say that I had huge expectations for this. I really enjoyed Sarah Gailey's previous works (I've read both short stories in American hippo) and I've been following them on twitter for a while now and always enjoy what they have to say. I pre-ordered this for more than 20€ which makes it my most expensive book this year and I started reading it as soon as it arrived. So all this to say that I was EXCITED. Also of course the cover, the synopsis and even the title of this book all made ...more
Caidyn (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
Jul 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: thrillers, 2020
I honestly gobbled this story up. It is so readable and well-paced that the story feels smooth and just so easy to read. This is a fantasy mystery - a murder mystery set in a magic school. Our mc is a non-magic PI which I thought was a really interesting perspective for a story about magic school (we usually get a magic-users perspective). And while her perspective was interesting, it was a bit unfortunate that because Ivy didn't understand anything, we as readers didn't understand anything eith ...more
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
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