Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.
But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.
A mysterious murder at a magical school? Two of my very favourite things! Though we are very much not at *that* school for Witchcraft and Wizardry. And the murder is so *very* gruesome that even You Know Who might blanch at it. And yes, there’s a Chosen One.
Ivy Gamble is a private investigator, going about her business, investigating your regular everyday private investigator-y things. Then she is hired to investigate something a little more… unusual, at the Osthorne Academy for Young Mages, the school where her sister Tabitha is on the faculty. Her sister Tabitha, who can do magic.
But the Academy most definitely isn’t Hogwarts. It feels very much like a regular high school, with corridors full of lockers rather than talking paintings, and nary a moving staircase in sight. It’s also got the requisite bunch of cliques and gangs, and teenagers doing regular teenage stuff, though using spells to pass messages, or draw uncleanable graffiti, or a thousand other teenager things.
And that’s what I loved about Magic for Liars. It’s a tale about magic, but relegated to the background. It’s a murder investigation, with all the usual questioning, red herrings, sneaking around, misdirections and ‘oh, I think I know who did it… oh, wait, no I don’t.’
It’s fascinating watching Ivy go back to school, to the magic school where she wished she fitted in like her sister. And equally fascinating seeing their world through Ivy’s eyes. Ivy, the hard-drinking, tough-nosed investigator faced with a bunch of kids and teachers who are all hiding someting. But can she figure out what?