Magic for Liars: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

If you’re looking for a book that dabbles in magic, without being too much about magic, this pick might be a good move for you. This is a nice blend of murder mystery and magic, with a gritty PI character driving forward the plot (because who else would be qualified to solve a gruesome homicide). Oh, not to mention the fact that this does take place within the walls of an elite boarding school, so there’s some good old high school student angst for the nostalgia trend we’re all enjoying presently (complete with a Harry Potter reference right from the start). This book is light, fun, and driven by a “who-dun-it” theme that works its way around centralized character relationships that lend weight to the shock and surprise of the final reveal. And let’s not forget the visual appeal of the cover, either (healthy dose of judgement - it’s okay in moderation). Altogether, this is a popping beach read for those sweltering summer days!

--Ari S, Bookseller

— From Staff Picks

"This book was recommended by a bookseller at a local bookstore, and I was immediately intrigued. Described as a magic noir, the story follows PI Ivy Gamble as she's pulled back into the world of magic to investigate a gruesome murder at the nearby school for magic, where her estranged sister just happens to work. It's is a messy, familiar, decidedly human story cloaked in fantasy. Though the intricacies of the murder investigation are compelling, Ivy's awkward and often heart-breaking attempts to connect with her sister are what really drive the story. And as with every good noir, there’s no pretty bow neatly tying up everything at the end. This easily is one of my favorite books I've read this year."

--McKenna G, Manager

— From Staff Picks


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Sharp, mainstream fantasy meets compelling thrills of investigative noir in Magic for Liars, a fantasy debut by rising star Sarah Gailey.

Ivy Gamble was born without magic and never wanted it.

Ivy Gamble is perfectly happy with her life – or at least, she’s perfectly fine.

She doesn't in any way wish she was like Tabitha, her estranged, gifted twin sister.

Ivy Gamble is a liar.

When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches Theoretical Magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister—without losing herself.

“An unmissable debut.”—Adrienne Celt, author of Invitation to a Bonfire

About the Author

Hugo and Campbell finalist SARAH GAILEY came onto the scene in 2015 and has since become one of the sharpest, funniest voices in pop culture online. They are a regular contributor for multiple websites, including Their nonfiction has appeared in Mashable and The Boston Globe, and their fiction has been published internationally. They are the author of River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow. They live lives in Los Angeles, California.

Praise For…

Praise for Magic for Liars

“A queerer, older, quicker-paced Harry Potter, concerned with the childhood grudges that adults can't get over.”—Refinery 29

“We can’t wait to see what Sarah Gailey does next!”—Crimereads, the most anticipated crime books of summer

“With winks to multiple genres, Sarah Gailey’s Magic for Liars shows that their talent has no trouble extending to a full-length novel.”—Culturess

“In a very short time, Sarah Gailey has distinguished themself as one of science fiction's best new writers.” —BoingBoing

“The world has little mercy; but it does have heart, and like Ivy, it carries on despite its scars.”—NPR

Magic for Liars is a perfect, spare, delectable novel that features a masterful narrative structure, terribly human characters occupying realistically magical settings, and more. The prose is spot-on and paints an intimate, flawed portrait of how a world like Gamble’s would function, from the moment she tells the disbelieving bartender magic exists to the moment she walks out on her sister. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” —

“There's something for almost all readers here... Gailey shows us that humans are humans, even when they are magic, and they are still flawed, damaged, and oh-so-interesting” —Booklist (starred review)

“Clever and fast-paced... a wonderfully quirky mystery filled with inviting characters and gripping surprise twists.” —Publishers Weekly

“A poignant and bittersweet family tragedy disguised as a mystery but with a magic all its own.” —Kirkus

Veronica Mars with a bit of Harry Potter” —The Nerd Daily

“Sarah Gailey mashes hard-bitten detective noir into the magical YA world of Harry Potter in Magic For Liars… a Syfy series waiting to happen.” —AV Club

“The sharpest female protagonist of the summer”—The Mary Sue

“Ivy Gamble may not be magic herself, but she casts a spell all the same—and so does Gailey” —Barnes and Noble

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250174611
ISBN-10: 1250174619
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Pages: 336