Magic for Liars

Narrated by: Xe Sands
Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins
4 out of 5 stars (473 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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)

©2019 Sarah Gailey (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

Hudson Booksellers Best of the Year, 2019

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • D$
  • 11-08-19

Great Performance but Very Disappointing Story

Magic School, Murder, and a Private Investigator. All the ingredients for a great book but I was sadly disappointed.

The world building is great, Magic feels more real and grounded in science and reality than say, Harry Potter. Students in this wizarding world are still just teenagers -- figuring out who they are & how they fit in, dealing with hormones, passing notes back and forth, sticking gum under their desks. Magic is hard and requires real knowledge; not just a flick of the wrist and a spoken word. Its powerful and real, with theorems and scientific principles. The author built a convincing world here.

The narration is pretty great as well. Its sultry and feels very noir.

Our lead character Ivy Gamble is a private investigator, recommended as one of the best for the case. Our star detective admits she is not a murder investigator, but her behavior is bizarre to say the least. She does a stunningly poor job of investigating the murder -- who really was this person who was murdered? What happened leading up to the murder? Who last saw her alive? Who stole a key piece of evidence? Who is sending me anonymous photos & messages?... any number of questions an average Joe would want to track down, let alone a detective. Instead our detective obsesses over love notes and teenage relationships. Hell, she even blows off the investigation with her own romantic life several times while a murderer is very likely to still be lurking the halls! You'll be mired in gushing detail about her drinking and dating. At times it even feels like an episode of Dora The Explorer. In interviews, our narrator literally asks the audience "Where have I heard this before? Hmm..." when you'll very much remember the exact reference from moments earlier. Like an audience watching a horror movie, you'll be yelling to the narrator "What are you doing!!" -- except, we have no extra knowledge. We're not privy to scenes without our narrator present, some secret clues that only the audience knows. No, Ivy will simply let clues sail right over her head, characters often have blatant slips of the tongue, and she won't investigate or question glaringly obvious details.

If you like a murder mystery, if you like magic, if you like romance novels, this might be your thing. It sure wasn't mine.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A really thought provoking mystery

There are a lot of popular fantasy novels that blend the real, mundane world with a secret magical world, but Sarah Gailey did it in a fresh, interesting way. What made me really enjoy the book was how the effects (or the lack their of) that magic has on the real world and the animosity that a mundane human would have on a group of people they believe could solve all the world's problem.

The only thing that keeps me from making this a 5 star book is that the cast of characters seems to be hand picked for social justice conscious people. It felt like the author was trying to force inclusion. I don't think it's a bad thing, I just think it could and should be done more organically.

3 people found this helpful

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Holy Forking Shirtballs

just buy the ding dang book and stop reading reviews. this pulpy noir meets Harry Potter world is what you want. Nay, what you need.

18 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Murder. Mystery. Magic. Marvelous!

What an absolutely scintillating story from Sarah Gailey! Xe Sands was the perfect narrator for this book, different and understated, allowing the story to unfold seamlessly. It’s no wonder at all why this is on the Goodreads 2019 nominations for Best Books of 2019 in the Fantasy category. Murder. Mystery. Magic. Marvelous!

⚖️ Plot: This was so cleverly done, giving us glimpses into the truth and then misdirecting us almost immediately. The pace was just right allowing us to follow comfortably. And for the type of writing Gailey used, the ending was spot on!

🗺 World: As this was a magic system in our own world, there wasn’t much need to elaborate on it. But if the book were a little longer, she could‘ve gone into a little more detail on the surroundings, architecture, and how these schools of magic came to be in our society.

💑 Characters: It’s been a while since I’ve like a female character as much as I do Ivy Gamble. She’s real, she’s smart and so easy to relate to. I was very happy to see a breath of diversity and genuine air with Rahul. I really hope to see them and more books by Gailey in the future.

1 person found this helpful

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A new favorite narrator

The story was good enough, and the narration was excellent! Not just distinct voices, but distinct characters. I will definitely be watching for other books in the mystery genre narrated by Ms Sands.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

XE Sands perfectly narrates a magical whodunnit

I really enjoyed this one! It was a quick, fun listen that blends whodunnit and a magical academy story.

There's lots of (semi-valid) complaints on here about the MC's constant whining but I felt like Ivy was a really built out character. Sure, it got annoying sometimes but she also felt like a real person. We all have baggage and baggage is annoying.

All in all: great characters, a fun setting that makes demystifies Hogwarts in a refreshing way, twists and turns and highschool drama - it was a great little book.

Gailey is an excellent writer and I'm eager to read more of her stuff! This is the first book I've heard narrated by XE Sands and she is now one of my favorite narrators.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An enjoyable story with mild mystery

While not overly complicated, this mystery novel is just enough to deliver a satisfying ending. The narration, while extremely evocative, can become a little overbearing with the inherent sighing and self deprecation of the main character. It's to the narrator's credit that she can deliver such a performance, but again it could be slightly off putting. Good listen overall.

1 person found this helpful

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Not what I'd expect a mystery novel to be about

I never imagined there could be so much irrelevant inner monologue in a book. I got lost in the psychological and mental thought process of the main character's indecisive and insecure ways, which ultimately made me lose interest in the main plot, the murder. Too many details on her self analysis, countless pointless observations, only to dance around the actual plot. The worst part is tha it drained my attention span and eventually I failed to care about the murder altogether. Perhaps its just me, but I did not enjoy this at all.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Veronica Mars meets The Magicians

The story was a bit too predictable and I found the main character a little whiny at times, but overall I enjoyed the book. There were some great characters (Rahul and Mrs Webb were my favourites) and I especially loved the way magic was performed and used. However, I feel Gaily could have expanded more on the magical world as a whole. I was left with a lot of questions... What do students do after they graduate? How much is the magical world separated from the non-magical world? What does the “chosen one” even do anyway?...

5 people found this helpful

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Just couldn’t get through it...

I really tried to get through this book. I did, but couldn’t do it. A little unhappy I couldn’t return it for a refund. I love Xe Sands. Not her fault. I was soooo sick of listening to the main character whine, by chap 8, I couldn’t take it anymore and gave up. Geez enough already!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Maddie
  • 06-19-19

Quirky and delicious from start to finish ✨

Everything is blurry in this book, and I love that it refuses to fit neatly into one box - it's a bit of fantasy swirled into a noir murder mystery with a touch of psychological thriller on the side. The magical school element is just the backdrop, and I loved that the main character is not magical - it felt bittersweet to be on the outside with her, looking in.

This is by no means YA fantasy, as I initially thought. Nor is it a basic whodunit following the murder trail and not much else. It's grown-up, and smart, and thought-provoking and achingly real. The feelings of inadequacy the main character experiences, her internal conflict and hopeful lies kept me hoping for a happy ending but again, this book is all grey lines and blurry contours. It has shades and layers and a dark but oh-so-human core.

And the narration is exquisite - it's soft and velvety and full of secrets 🔮
Keep on writing, Sarah 🤞