Sarah Gailey (River of Teeth) riffs lovingly on the magical boarding school trope in a mystery-fantasy hybrid about a lie's power to hurt both its teller and its recipients.
Private investigator Ivy Gamble says, "My job is to pursue the truth." Still, after years of convincing herself she doesn't care that her twin sister, Tabitha, was born with magic while she was not, Ivy has had plenty of practice at lying. So what if Tabitha turned out to be a genius mage who teaches at the prestigious Osthorne Academy for Young Mages while Ivy catches Bay Area adulterers for a living? They don't really talk anyway, which is fine with Ivy. When a teacher is found split perfectly in half in Osthorne's library, though, Ivy finds herself drawn more deeply into the magical world than she ever thought possible.
Magical law enforcement rules the tragedy an accident. The headmaster disagrees, and because Ivy is a qualified outsider who's aware magic exists, she is hired to catch a mystical murderer. Passing herself off as a mage to students and faculty, Ivy learns teenagers with magic still act like teenagers; reconnects with her sister; and kindles a romance with the sexy physical magic professor Rahul. The magical world is luxurious and seductive but, as Ivy investigates, she learns magic cannot cure dark secrets. It can only hide the lies.
Magic for Liars is perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell's Carry On and anyone who ever mourned the Hogwarts letter that never came. Though the ending leaves little room for a direct sequel, Gailey's world deserves further exploration. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads