Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When We Were Magic” as Want to Read:
When We Were Magic
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When We Were Magic

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  36 reviews
A moving, darkly funny novel about six teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.”

Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what
Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 3rd 2020 by Simon Pulse
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When We Were Magic, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sarah Gailey The two books are not connected, but neither of them is in a separate universe from our own, so technically they're in the same universe. :)
Sarah Gailey It's about 6 friends! That description had a typo in it, thank you for catching it!

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  58 ratings  ·  36 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of When We Were Magic
queer witches + me = match made in heaven

side note: you have no idea how fuckin happy i am right now. all ive ever wanted was a unstoppable girl gang who kiss each other sometimes but are unashamedly themselves. GOD IM SO EXCITED!!
Elise (TheBookishActress)
"in which a group of high school girls face up to the consequences of a disastrous magical accident resulting in a dead boy on prom night" and also there are girl friendships and gay witches. and also I love this author’s short fiction. hm. yes?
queer witches and an accidental murder A.K.A. sign me tf up


insta | twitter | blog | booksirens | duolingo
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
i trust sarah w my gay life & this sounds delightful
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs, rep-wlw, rep-poc
review on my blog

When We Were Magic was a book I was expecting to give 5 stars, but it ultimately didn’t mesh well with me. The premise had the potential to be a new favourite – a full cast of women, diversity in sexuality and ethnicity, magic, tight-knit, loyal, loving female friendships, and dark humour – but the execution and misleading marketing made it a lacklustre read for me.

Alexis and her five friends have one unique thing in common: they all possess magical powers. On prom night when
Amber (The Book Bratz)
The full review + more can be found at The Book Bratz

*Thank you so much Simon Pulse and NetGalley for the advanced copy of WHEN WE WERE MAGIC. All thoughts and opinions are my own!*

When We Were Magic was the first book I finished in 2020 and I am so happy it is. This book is full of such a diverse cast of characters who love and support each other no matter what. Plus this book and it’s cover scream girl power! This story is about a group of witches, like c’mon!

All Alexis wanted to do on prom
Leah (Jane Speare)
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alexis and her friends are magic. Their magic is mysterious, enchanting, helpful...usually. But when she gets in a bind on the night of prom, her friends’ loyalties become as stretched as the upcoming summer days, and they all find themselves in the middle of a situation soaked in murky moral waters. Every teenager will benefit from reading this book. It deals with the uncertainties life discourteously throws at you, and the messy (but necessary) ways you’ll inevitably have to cope with them. ...more
Jen Ryland
Feb 12, 2020 added it
Shelves: lgbt
Wow - really enjoyed this! It was unique and interesting and very memorable.

Loved the female friendships. It had a darkly humorous tone but was also psychologically complex. It felt like magic was being used allegorically and maybe as connected to sexuality (?) will have to think on that more and look at other reviews to see if anyone agrees with me.

I do wish the magical elements had been explained a bit more, but I feel like this was more of a friendship/coming of age/coming out as queer
Joanna Szabo
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When We Were Magic is about trust—not just between friends and family (though very much that too) but also between the author and reader. There were times when I wondered how this book could possibly reach a satisfying conclusion, given everything the characters go through, given all the ways they’re fractured, given this completely bonkers premise, but don’t worry—Sarah Gailey is worthy of your trust. They do things in this book that are unexpected and wild and magic, digging deep into my ...more
Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey.

I am sitting here debating on how to start my review. I honestly liked this novel for all the topics that it touches upon even though it is fantasy. Sarah Gailey uses her ability of writing to go beyond so much more than what is on the surface though. I liked the plot, but I liked these characters so much more. The diversity and humanity that Gailey brings to her
Feb 09, 2018 marked it as desperately-waiting-for
simon pulse if you're reading this I will give you my future first-born child for an arc
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it

I looooove books about queer teen witches (there's a growing number of books in this genre), so was excited for Gailey's YA debut. But this is a bit grimmer/more disturbing than the usual YA fare. We start at a prom afterparty, where our protagonist is planning on sleeping with a (male) classmate she barely knows, even though she isn’t really into him, but then he explodes. So she calls in her crew of gal pals, because they’re all MAGIC, and they have to
Molly Mason
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When We Were Magic tells a magical tale of independence, sisterhood, and growth among 5 female witches in high school. With a first line that will hook you, a first chapter that will blow your mind (literally), and a a magic system that is so unique. The MC Alexis goes through a devastating event, and a journey to set things right while also dealing with life as a high school senior who is secretly in love with one of her best friends. This standalone novel flows so nicely that I read it ...more
rachel ☾
this book opens with a boy dying because his dick literally explodes, and a girl calling her magical, witch friends to help her hide the body... i have a good feeling about this one.

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it. The book starts off with a PUNCH and I thought it was going to be dark humor and a lot of fun...but it wasn't. I also didn't really feel a connection with any of the characters. They each get a few pages of description so the reader can "get them" but I was still getting all of them mixed up by the end.

The love story is a slow burn but you know it's coming and literally every character except the POV knows its coming which I found frustrating. But it still
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
When we were magic is the best type of speculative fiction. It experiments by giving this group of teens a twist, magical ability, and examines their lives in that context. The magic and the death of Josh are just vehicles that let the readers experience the complex bonds between a set of young people.
There were a few spoilery points that didn't quite feel authentic, but they weren't enough to mar the overall enjoyment of the story.
Michael Araujo
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, magic-casters
**Originally posted on The Fandom**

Alexis has everything she could possibly want in life. She has her amazing group of friends. College is right around the corner as she counts her days to graduation day. She has magic that can help make her life easier and can even kill a boy accidentally. Wait… that was never part of the plan! When her magic goes awry, Alexis and her friends realize that they might not have that much control over their magic (and their lives) as they once thought. Together,
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved it. I loved it. I loved it.
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, physical-2020
There were so many things about this story I adored:the importance of friendship and family, and the importance of being true to yourself. Plus the wit and snark was awesome.

Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook
It was fine. The stakes felt too low but the friendship love was wholesome and good. I always enjoy Sarah Gailey’s vision of magic. 3.5?
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Well, the original incident in this book is . . . dramatic. And it was kind of a bit much for me, honestly. However, this later turned into one of the best books on female friendship I've ever read, and I loved the development of the friendship of these young women, especially watching Alexis learn to move from a position of extreme insecurity to trusting herself and her friendships (and her romance too!) So in the end, this was pretty fun.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this review
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-buy
I loved how whole and different the magic system was. I loved each of the girls, who are their own person and who'd I'd adored to be friend with. I really think this gang of girls will be stuck with me now.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm not usually into stories about magic or witches but someone on Twitter gushing over this story being about tight-as-hell friendship pushed me into reading this, and I'm so glad I did. Yes, it's about queer teenage witches, one of whom accidentally kills a boy with her magic. But it's also about having a tight-knit crew who will have your back no matter what. It's about being vulnerable and allowing others to see you and support you. It's about opening yourself up to the wild, massive amount ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Alexis and her best friends have a secret-- they harbor various types of magic powers. She didn't mean for their classmate, Josh, to explode on prom night... it just kind of happened. In an attempt to right the situation, the gang work together to destroy what remains of him, holding out for a miracle to bring him back. This isn't just a magic mystery story; Gailey really dives into the depth and love of ride-or-die friendships between young women, the kind of unbreakable bonds that will last ...more
Melinda Beatty
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read in one sitting. Gailey’s prose, as ever, is stunning in this coming of age story of teenager magic users grappling with the aftermath of a magical accident and deciding what they’re willing to lose in the name of love and friendship.
Cody Roecker
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An utterly magical woven tapestry, this book makes my queer heart sing with joyous notes. Unforgettable friendships, captivating storytelling, and a story about love and acceptance and fears and identity. I loved every moment of it.

This will be in my top books that release in 2020 for sure.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the type of book I wish I had in high school. Loved every second of reading it.
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, 2019-reads
A YA novel by one of my favorite authors about 6 best friends with magical powers working together to protect Alexis after she accidentally kills a boy on prom night. I expected this book to be focused on the teen witch aspect of the story, but the magic actually felt almost incidental while the relationship between the friends was the real heart of the story. It's a coming of age and coming into self novel more than anything else, just with a fun, magical twist.

Beautiful writing, fascinating
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ohhh, this is so good. I'm so excited for teens to read Sarah Gailey, and MAGIC FOR LIARS readers will not be disappointed either. Although the universes are not connected (at least as far as I can tell) all the magic and tension of Gailey's adult novel is here too. When Alexis accidentally kills a boy with her magic, she and her friends must figure out what to do - should they try to bring him back? Cover it up? Or some combination? Alexis does her best to navigate the situation, and as she ...more
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this one- it was my high school experience of loving my friends. But with witches and magic and things gone wrong and girl crushes.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • We Are the Wildcats
  • The Okay Witch
  • Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta's Academy, #1)
  • Slay
  • Girl, Serpent, Thorn
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
  • Twice in a Blue Moon
  • The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)
  • We Used To Be Friends
  • The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3)
  • The Fountains of Silence
  • Today Tonight Tomorrow
  • The Honey-Don't List
  • The Starless Sea
  • What I Like About You
  • House of X (2019) #4 (of 6)
  • Powers of X (2019) #4 (of 6)
  • The Time of Green Magic
See similar books…