Book Reviews

Review: Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Magic for Liars is a story about dangerous magic, sisters, and our choices. It’s a murder mystery with magic thrown in and a good deal of discussion about the choices that lead us down these paths.


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.


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, about how a moment, a series of choices changes our lives.

World Building & Murder

Magic for Liars deals with magic and the gullies and gaps it creates. The perspective of someone who, in another life, another desire, wishes desperately to be in that world, to have that power. The murder case and all the things beneath the surface, under rugs, obscured by stains, and secrets hidden and whispered.


But, predictably, what really drew me to Magic for Liars was the sisters. The chasm of grief opened between them regarding the potential the responsibility of magic to save their dying mother. The relationship is full of resentment of her sister’s life going on as if nothing happened while Ivy was absolutely gutted, hollowed our and barely surviving, dealing with parental death alone.

In many ways, their relationship is played out all over again in the relationship between Dylan and Alexandria (two teens at the magical school). The story revolves around siblings – how are they different and the same. The way magic changes Alexandria, our sense of worth – Dylan’s prophecy, and what would they do for each other.


Magic for Liars plays with the whole nature of the truth and lies and everything in between, white lies, magic lies, and lies for magic. We are all marked by our scars, by our grief, by our past choices that leave us wanting, mourning, and desperately craving. And Magic for Liars asks us how will we deal with our scars, with our desires to be someone new, someone different – more powerful.

Find Magic for Liars on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.


What are your favorite sister relationships?

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