I’ve been looking forward to When We Were Magic since it was released. Yes I may be a year late, but that’s the good thing about books: they always wait for you. And what a wait it’s been. BUT I can report that I thoroughly enjoyed When We Were Magic – a queer story about friendship and found family. Keep reading this book review to find out my full thoughts!
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 brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.
That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.
When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.
The first paragraph of When We Were Magic captivated me. I read half of the book in one sitting I was so in love. Reading about groups of friends is my lifeline. I seriously love this plot element and Gailey delivers one of my favorites. Talk about a diverse group of characters struggling to finish high school, to maintain their friendships, and to hide a body. There’s a strong core of friendship between them all. That weaves the threads between them of unconditional love and knowing your weaknesses before you do.
When We Were Magic is a story that manages to balance fabulous magical world building which feels just concrete enough to understand, with plenty of space for wonder, with fantastic character dynamics. Centered on Alexis’ story, I’d read a story about each of these friends, okay!? It explores the consequences of her actions and the strains it puts on their friendships. We wonder how long they can keep this going. All while becoming more immersed in the friendships, the tensions of feelings brewing, and the looming danger of distance.
The enormity of what they’ve done demands sacrifices – but will it cost them everything? I loved some of Gailey’s twists that asks each of them what they will do for friendship. At the same time, another piece of the core of When We Were Magic is Alexis’ journey to accept herself and the friendship of her friends. Because we can have our ride or die group, but when they’re untested by fire, just how strong are we?