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.
I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books!
I really enjoyed Magic for Liars. It features a private investigator who did not exactly have an easy relationship with her magical twin sister- a massive understatement. So things get a little complicated when she finds herself investigating a murder at the academy where her sister works and discovers some things that she might not have imagined.
Firstly, I really liked how the magical murder mystery at the center of the plot is not straightforward. At all. I’d admit I was a little blindsided by the ending- not because of who committed it, but because of why the death happened. It was sad and heartbreaking and I really understood with the choices Ivy made in the end because of it. It makes the story even more compelling as you see all the threads that lead there while also providing a solid conclusion. Although, I’d read a spin-off about the siblings featured in a Chosen One subplot because I think their relationship is just as complex as Ivy and Tabitha’s- although with a lot more magic involved and a lot of teenage angst.
The writing was pretty straight-forward although it does contain a lot of magical jargon. It was easy enough to understand and I did like how it explains the magic that happens in an academic manner and isn’t too technical about it.
There’s some pretty interesting characters who get introduced but my favorites are Alexandria and Dylan, half-siblings who are at the center of this Chosen One plot because of this family prophecy type thing. Dylan has a strong belief that it’s him and not his sister because he thinks she’s vapid and shallow. Meanwhile, Ivy’s pretty quick to notice that there’s more to the eye when it comes to Alexandria. As I mentioned earlier, I’d definitely read a book about them- I think there’s a lot to be explored when it comes to the whole family prophecy thing.
At the heart of the story however is Ivy and Tabitha’s relationship. I loved how realistic and sometimes frustrating their sibling relationship is. They’ve been estranged for years and when they meet up, things don’t automatically get fixed between the two of them. Their relationship remains on the fragile side and there’s still plenty of things left unsaid and there are also plenty of baggage that they still carried. Their bond was kind of broken by years of estrangement and bitterness and might never go back to the way it was before Tabitha became magic. Still, they do take some steps to repair their relationship. I think that the direction their relationship went in at the end was a realistic one and while it is a little sad, it’s still understandable why things happened the way it did.
The plot, as I mentioned was compelling and provided an interesting- if sad twist to the murder mystery. I wouldn’t spoil it too much and I think it’s best to read it for yourself to see what I was talking about. The magic is a little on the low-magic side as it does feature a contemporary setting, although it might be a bit surprising considering the magic school location. Still, beware of the “mild” body horror near the end. It’s not described as too explicit or gory but be wary still.
Overall, I can recommend this to fans of urban fantasy and murder mystery. It marries the two genres nicely in my opinion and features a very interesting and complex sister bond at its heart.