This ended up being so much more than what I was expecting. A private school for magic with a murder mystery sounds like a cool idea that can go horribly wrong. Luckily, Sarah Gailey was able to pull it off. The other-worldliness is grounded, but still a little rogue. Kind of the way Netflix did super-hero shows like Daredevil and Jessica Jones without feeling silly. There's a grittiness that's tangible and less like a straight-up fantasy, if that helps anyone bridge the gap at all.
The mystery/thriller element is equally well done. Even if you're able to guess a portion of the circumstances, you likely won't get them all. There's a lot of subtleties that you aren't sure if are significant or not. Some are more relevant than others, and it makes for a layered story that is hard to put down. Ivy Gamble is exactly what you would want out of a PI: blunt, smart, funny, emotionally unavailable, possible alcoholic. There's a lot to unpack between her and her sister, Tabitha, a teacher at the magical academy, which makes for an interesting dynamic.
I really liked this book. Anyone afraid it's going to be reminiscent of a certain magical establishment where wizards shit their pants need not worry. Also appreciated the amount of representation that isn't made a big deal of. I would definitely be interested in more from Ms. Gailey.