The cover and synopsis and title of the novel were all immediately intriguing to me. Magic for Liars is a murder mystery on a magical high school campus, told from the perspective of the nonmagical private eye who finds herself on the case. You can see why I was intrigued, right? Noir novels can be very hit or miss, but this one was definitely a hit. It was everything I was hoping for, and more than I was expecting.
Ivy Gamble is a wonderfully developed character. She comes across a bit as a down-on-her-luck gumshoe detective at the beginning of the book, but she grows and changes so much throughout the book. When she is approached to look into a mysterious death on the campus of a magic school, the campus where her magical twin sister teaches, no less, Ivy is incredibly conflicted. She has no real relationship with her sister and doesn’t want to encroach on her world, but the pay is too good for her starving coffers to pass up. Ivy suddenly finds herself trying to balance a rekindling relationship with her sister, a burgeoning romance with one of the school’s teachers, the teenage drama running wild in the hallways, the questionable death that brought her to the school in the first place… and lies. Lots and lots of lies.
The mystery elements of this novel were really fun, but my favorite aspect was the setting. I’m a sucker for any kind of school story, especially if that school is magical. What I loved so much about The Osthorne Academy for Young Mages is that it’s not Hogwarts. There’s nothing mystical about it. Osthorne is exactly like a real life preppy, private high school, but where magic is taught alongside your average subjects. I thought the lack of robes and moving stairways and haunted forests was incredibly refreshing, even though I adore all of those elements. I also really liked how scientific the magic was, and the medical implications that were discussed throughout. And the fact that our main character is an outsider looking in on this magical world was a wonderful change, as well. I enjoyed getting to see magic from the perspective of someone incapable of using it.
I really liked Magic for Liars. Is it a book that I’ll remember forever and add to my shelf of lifetime favorites? No. But it was a fun ride that I would have no problem recommending to others. It’s great for what it is, and well worth reading.
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