Book Review: When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey

Book Review: When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey


when we were magic

Fantasy: When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey


In our world, magic is the art of deception. Obfuscation. Distraction. Watch my right hand, while my left hand does things you cannot see. 


Alexis is a senior in high school. She and her five best friends are magic. Real magic. Make trees grow, talk to animals, change their appearance on a whim, magic. They look like ordinary girls. They attend an ordinary school. They are thought to be just like everybody else. But they are not. They are magical.


And Alexis has just magically killed her classmate Josh Harper.


She didn’t mean to do it. She meant to have sex with him. Somehow, though, things went horribly wrong, and now Josh Harper is lying on his bed covered in his own blood.


So Alexis calls her friends and they come to help. First they try to make the body disappear. That fails rather spectacularly. Then they try other things, all the while protecting Alexis, protecting each other, protecting their secret abilities, and learning that even magic can have a terrible cost.


That is where the true magic of this book comes in. In our world, there are aspects of the book meant to deceive and obfuscate and distract the unwary reader. This book is categorized as a YA novel. It is about teenagers, but the themes are very dark and the plot is very mature. There are scenes with violence and sex. I would caution that this is not the right book for every teenager. The book has “Magic” in the title and on the cover. Yes, these girls are magical, and yes, magic figures prominently throughout the story. But this is not a book about magic. 


This is a book about friendship, about love, about discovering who you really are, about revealing your inner self to others and how terrifying that can be. It is a book about choices, many of them chosen poorly. It is a book about loss. It is full of angst and anger and love and passion and relationships and regrets and promises and consequences.


And about what and what not to do with a dead body.


Sarah Gailey is an award-winning writer who is just coming into their own. They have written a lot of short fiction and non-fiction and have begun writing novels in the past couple of years. I hope they continue. This novel is difficult, dark, sad, and courageous. It is also beautifully written and dives deeply into the psyche of a teenage girl discovering who and what she is. I found it to be magic.


Also see:

Book Review: Magic for Liars, Sarah Gailey

Book Review: The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey


when we were magic

Book Review: When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey

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