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Sarah Gailey’s Magic for Liars Has the Sharpest Female Protagonist of the Summer

Sarah Gailey’s new fantasy noir Magic for Liars is getting rave reviews across the board—and it features a “sharp and tart” private detective protagonist, Ivy Gamble, who you’re going to love hanging out with. Here are some delectable bites from the book that we think will make you want to order up the full meal.

With The Verge calling Magic for Liars “a great debut for Gailey, with fun characters, an interesting mystery to unravel, and a unique spin on the magical noir genre,” this is one of the essential books for genre fans this summer. But you don’t have to just take our word for it. Listen to Ivy.

Gailey has a strong, wry, witty voice that they lend to their main character, the hard-drinking, non-magical private detective Ivy Gamble:

“I never wanted to be magic.

That was Tabitha’s thing, not mine, and sometimes you just have to be fine with things the way they are. And I was fine with it.

“Liquid lunch?” The bartender cocked an eyebrow at me as he placed a dark, sweating bottle in front of me next to a chilled glass.

“Part of a balanced breakfast,” I replied mildly, decanting my beer into the glass. He gave me an easy smile, a you’re-funny smile that he probably used on everyone. Affirmation and illusion, bound up tighter than two snakes in the same egg.”

Ivy’s voice—and Gailey’s prose—pops off the page in Magic for Liars and makes us excited to spend time with her solving magical crimes. Spending time with Ivy means there’s never a dull moment:

“I fell flat on my ass, a perfect slapstick fall that sent a breath-taking bolt of pain up my tailbone. My phone flew out of my hand, skidded across the floor, and slid neatly under the nearest bank of lockers. Rahul had been carrying a stack of papers; it flew into the air and fluttered down around us like the feathers of some massive exploded bird as he tumbled backward, skidding across the linoleum floor.

Of course I would run into him. Of all the staff and students at Osthorne, it would have to be him. At the exact instant when I least wanted to see anyone in the world, of course I would see the dreamboat physical magic teacher who had maybe been flirting with me. Classic.

For a fantastical book, Magic for Liars is also down-to-earth and rooted in reality, thanks to Ivy’s perspective.

I propped the door open with my foot and shoved everything that had happened that day into the brick-lined oubliette where I’d been tossing the rest of my feelings about this case. It took a little work to press everything down into there, but I managed it. So I was able to stop myself from asking how long he’d been there, whether he’d seen my panic. I pulled it together, slipped into the skin I’d worn for him before, the Ivy that never was.

I became her, and she smiled at him.

Ready to get your hands on Magic for Liars? We know you are. Find everything you need to know here.

(image: Tor Books)

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