Magic for Liars: A Novel (Paperback)

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Elisabeth's August 2019 pick
How many books say they're "Harry Potter for adults?"
So many.

How many books say they're "for people still waiting on their Hogwarts letter?"

So when MAGIC FOR LIARS was described like that, I rolled my eyes internally (but you'll notice i still picked it up) and expected a magical adventure that entertained but fell far short of HP.
This story isn't just for people who like wizards.
It's about a woman whose twin sister DID get a Hogwarts letter (well, not Hogwarts exactly), but she got left behind, mundane and normal and not magical.
And now here she is, 14 years later, jaded and bitter at the world, taking photos of cheating spouses for her private investigator business, gumshoeing through the linoleum'd hallways of a private wizarding boarding school that her estranged sister works at, and there are no magic talking portraits or floating candles or pumpkin pasties, but there is magic graffiti ("Samantha is a slut") that resists all attempts by the janitor to scrub off, and magic birth control from the health teacher, and dimensional folding to pass notes secretly, and mandated reporters for prphecy fulfillment.
AND A DEAD BODY IN THE THEORETICAL MAGIC SECTION OF THE LIBRARY, where the health teacher was vivisected into two equal halves.

For adults.
Who didn't get their Hogwarts letter.
Please excuse me, this book won't finish reading itself. The Physical Magic instructor is HOT.

— From Elisabeth



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 Award-winning and bestselling author Sarah Gailey is the author of the novels The Echo Wife and Magic for Liars. Their nonfiction has been published by Mashable and The Boston Globe, and they won a Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Their fiction credits also include Vice and The Atlantic. Their debut novella, River of Teeth, was a 2018 finalist for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Praise For…

Praise for Magic for Liars

"A private investigator takes a job investigating a murder at a magic school in California. Our PI never developed magic ability, much to her dismay—so we enter that world with the same longing for specialness that she does. Whether it’s the 'murder investigation' part of that summary that grabs you or the 'magic school' part, this winsome, clever book will definitely engage you."--Veronica Roth, #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Divergent series

“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

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250174628
ISBN-10: 1250174627
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Pages: 352
Language: English