Saturday, September 21, 2019

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Oh, it took me a while to get through this novel. I made the mistake of reading some of the reviews about it, and that influenced me (I admit this reluctantly!). There were a few times when I was ready to just throw in the towel, but I persisted and finished the book, and I'm glad I did, even if I do have mixed feelings. 

So. Ivy is a private investigator in San Francisco. She's your stereotypical PI: just barely hanging on, investigating cheating spouses and small time criminal activity, and likes the bottle. She's called on to investigate a murder at an unusual place: The Osthorne Academy, a secret school for witchcraft and wizardry. This is no run of the mill murder, either; it's rather gruesome. Sylvia, a teacher at the academy, is found in the library, literally split in two, head to toe. The school wants to know what exactly happened--this is big, big magic--the kind of magic that isn't actually possible. So did Sylvia try something, and it went horribly wrong? Or was she murdered by another mage?

Ivy has a few issues. First of all, her twin sister, Tabitha, is a teacher at the academy. Yes, her sister got all the magic, and Ivy got none of it. It's caused a rift between the two sisters, even more so after their mother died of cancer and Ivy blamed Tabitha for not saving her. Another issue: everyone at the academy assumes Ivy has magical abilities, and she, wanting to finally fit in, doesn't tell them any different. The only person who knows she's not magical is Tabitha, and she's not telling anyone. As Ivy stays on campus, investigating the murder, she begins to uncover some big secrets between students, teachers, and yes, even her own sister. Was Sylvia's death murder, or a magical mishap?

I had a few issues reading this story. First of all, Ivy, get over yourself. Sheesh. Over and over, we're reminded that she's not magical. Over and over, we're reminded that she's really angry at her sister. I got a little confused, because it seemed like there were a few instances where Ivy appeared to have some small magical talent--or maybe I was just reading it wrong. She seemed to be able to figure out some big magical stuff that the folks with all the talent couldn't. The cast of characters were okay, but I was perplexed by the fact that this secret magical academy existed, but the regular world didn't seem to have a clue. Where did these students go, once they graduated? How did this whole thing work with the regular world? I was left with a whole lot of unanswered questions. And the final reveal? Well, I wasn't surprised at the who, but the why was interesting. Brought up a whole bunch of ethical issues, for sure. And it turns out, we are all just human beings after all--magic or not. 

I've got mixed feelings about this book. I'm glad I finished it. There were moments of ho-hum, and moments where it got really interesting. A lot of peaks and valleys. I'd probably try another novel by this author; either a stand alone, or a continuation of Ivy's story. There was a lot left unanswered. 

Rating: 3/6 for a novel that explores magic in the modern world, sibling relationships, and ethical issues. I'm on the fence with this one. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.  

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