Happy Friday to all my party people! I’m doing my level best to not make *another* liar out of myself and delivering on the 86 million backlogged reviews I have waiting for you! I’m starting however, with a few more of my recent reads since they’re fresh on the brain.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Let me start this off by saying that writing reviews that are more negative than positive is generally not an enjoyable thing for me. I’m a reviewer, I’m not an author and reading and writing is an incredibly personal experience. So first let me say: I personally could absolutely not write an entire novel and cohesive story that has a beginning, a middle and an end that a reader could follow along with. However, this is about my opinion of the book so I’m going to give you what worked for me, and honestly, what didn’t.
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 Magic at Osthorne Academy for Young Mages. While Tabitha is away at school learning how to make her skin more luminous, change the dreary color of her hair and make plants grow in the dead of winter; Ivy is at home watching her family fall apart. Her mother is dying of cancer and her father is dying from a broken heart and there’s nothing Ivy can do. She isn’t magical, she’s just a normal girl watching her normal mother wither away in front of her.
Well, I wouldn’t have run my fingers across the letters then, either. I probably wouldn’t have given them a second glance. I’ve never been good at recognizing what moments are important. What things I should hang on to while I’ve got them.
Ivy may not be magic, but what she is, is a damn good Private Investigator whose carved out a life of her own from the rubble her sister left behind. Color Ivy surprised when, after locking her door behind her she receives an unexpected visitor who knows more about her than she should. Headmaster Torres from Osthorne is here to solicit the help of Ivy, a PI with at least a minor understanding of the magical goings-on at the Academy. A beloved teacher has been found in the library, sliced clean in half and the investigative team has deemed it a spell gone wrong instead of what Torres knows it clearly to be: a murder. So begins Ivy’s foray into a magical world that’s always been just beyond her reach. As she entrenches herself in her estranged sisters life and the world of spells and magical teenagers she finds a whole lot more than she bargained for.
She smiled past the bloodstains on the carpet. “She treated everyone like a person. It’s rarer than you’d think.” She drew a breath. “Her body was there, and there.” Torres indicated each of the butterfly wings of the stain.
What a synopsis though, right!? When I saw this baby was releasing this year I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I was envisioning the perfect blend of an adult Harry Potter mashed up with the best PI around, Veronica Mars. However, what I got was something that left me sorely disappointed. I will say that Gailey really deviated from the norm here and the nuance of poking fun at the “chosen one” trope isn’t lost on me. While the idea here I think is top notch, the execution left me wanting more for almost the entirety of the read.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t have to love all the characters of a book to love the book. However, Ivy took the whining MC trope to an entirely new level that made me not only dislike her, but not want to spend any time with her either. That’s a bad place to be when it’s the only POV you’ve got. I appreciated the difficulty of what it must be like to live in a world where you know magic exists but you’re decidedly not magic and your sister gets the life you’ve always dreamed of. I can’t even say that I wouldn’t be exactly the same if I were in her shoes. However, when I’m reading I want the suspension of reality a bit. While you do have to suspend reality because…you know, magic; I would’ve loved to have seen more depth and dimension to Ivy. She felt very one-dimensional to me and her inner monologue of “poor me, I’m not magic” grew tired as the pages wore on.
An ache gripped my chest, sudden and overwhelming. That’s my sister. Even after everything–even with everything that was still between us, that would probably always be between us–she was my sister. I was born reaching for her.
I appreciated the complexity of Ivy’s relationship with her sister and the originality of the idea behind the plot. However, in the end I felt consistent disappointment and it was a bit of a chore to keep going. The writing, at times, was a bit much and the amount of similes used was astounding. The plot genuinely did not pick up past much of Ivy wallowing in self-pity for being ordinary until the last 30 or so pages. The final “twist” if you can call it that, was yet another moment where I found myself again, wanting more from the characters and more from the story overall. I’m not saying this book isn’t for anyone, but it definitely wasn’t for me.
Suggested For: I honestly DK y’all because I don’t know how to suggest books I didn’t love to fellow readers. BUT, if you’ve read Gailey’s work before and like her writing style, fans of slow moving, lightly fantasy novels?
Music Mood: Black Magic Woman by VCTRYS
Have you read Magic for Liars? If so, what did you think? What are some deal breakers for you in terms of MC characteristics that turn you off of a book? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!