Engaging take on magical mystery

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I was excited for this book after enjoying a four chapter teaser via Bookish First. Magic for Liars is a modern day mystery/fantasy, set in an exclusive high school for mages - people with magical abilities. The story immediately engages with a dramatic, gruesome murder in the school library at the start of term. Unsatisfied with the mage resolution to the incident, the headmaster approaches Ivy, a private investigator, to solve the murder case. Ivy isn't a mage, but she's aware of their existence. Her sister is a mage, and a teacher at the school. Tabitha left Ivy and her parents behind at a young age to go to mage school, and Ivy never got over the abandonment. Estranged since their teens, Ivy can't make peace with Tabitha being magical, and that she herself is not. Insecurities about her talent and worth have defined Ivy into an adulthood of a sub-par career, no lasting relationships, and too much drinking. Maybe taking this case would allow Ivy prove to herself that she's good enough to work serious cases, maybe as good as her magical sister.
Upon arriving at the school, Ivy is both amazed and dismayed at how high school is high school, magic or not. She must navigate the drama of teenage social groups, school politics, hierarchies, and secrets, and most of all, re-engage with the sister she no longer knows, if she wants to learn what happened that day in the library. And do it all without magic.
The story is a slow-burn mystery that dredges up past family trauma, assumptions, and misunderstandings. Teenage angst and uncertainty is portrayed in all its messy glory. I found it complex and interesting. I liked the writing style, the characters, and the plotting. It was a page turner for me, up to the final chapters, where it ended with a whimper instead of the bang I expected. It made sense, but I felt unfulfilled. Still, a fresh and creative take on magical fantasy.

Thank you to Bookish First for the ARC review copy, which I won in a random lottery.