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.
Every time I reach that stage where I feel like I’ve just burnt myself out on urban fantasy and convince myself it’s time to focus on a different genre for a while, a new book comes out that just looks too good to resist. This was definitely one of those books and I went into it expecting urban fantasy along the lines of The Dresden Files or the Mercy Thompson series and quickly had those expectations shot down within the first few pages. Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey was a fantastic read that I was nothing like anything else I’ve read before.
Magic For Liars is one of those books where I don’t think I can say much about the story without spoiling plot points for the book. I will say that it does remind me of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians in that both books feature magic schools and magic systems that are unlike anything else in the genre. It’s also really interesting to read an urban or contemporary fantasy story which is set in a school of magic, where the main character has no magic to call her own. I thought it added an interesting dynamic to the story and impacted the plot in some pretty unexpected ways.
There have been a lot of authors over the years who have tried to combine fantasy and noir fiction with what I think are fairly mixed results but thought Magic For Liars managed it well. Ivy is a great character and I thought Sarah Gailey did a great job with the whole hard-bitten alcoholic PI schtick that often seems to come with the genre. My only complaint is that I was slightly disappointed by the fact that I didn’t find the rest of the characters to be quite as real or believable as I did Ivy. Though that could be because we spend most of the book in Ivy’s head and see all the other characters filtered through her.
I would definitely recommend this story looking for something new and different to enjoy. I think it would be enjoyable to read no matter what genre someone normally prefers.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.