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Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.

When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.”

When We Were Magic

It should come as no surprise that I didn’t read the book description. I saw Sarah Gailey and that was all I needed. They are a must read author for me. I see their name and that is all that matters. They are pretty much a perfect author for me. They have lovely queer rep and they have stories that generally have happy endings.

I have said it before and I will say it again and again: I hate magic. Magic is so incredibly boring for me. It often saves the day in weird ways that wrap everything up to nicely or it is so uncontrolled there is no real sense of fun. I knew there would be some magic in this book, but it is literally everywhere. This shouldn’t be shocking for those of you who read book descriptions, but it was disappointing for me. I even asked my partner who has only read the first ninety something pages if the magic ever stops so I can really be invested in the story. (haha, I finished it before you did!). The magic never stops. The magic is so ill defined and seemingly limitless that it was one of the weakest parts of the story for me.

The other issue I had with the book was there were six girls all introduced so rapidly that I couldn’t tell them apart. There were a few that stood out, but then the rest were just sorta there. If I had taken notes in the first chapter, then maybe this wouldn’t have been such an issue. Others don’t seem to have this problem. So this again might be a me thing.

Despite these pretty large issues, I devoured this book. The first section of chapter one, which is roughly a paragraph is probably the best opening paragraph I have ever read. The rest of the book is interesting, but that one paragraph-ish is the best. Gailey has a humor and a streak of ridiculousness that really makes them the perfect author for me, even when they are writing about magic with too many characters. This may not be hippo cowboys, but magical girls who got into this mess by accidental penis explosion is pretty close on the scale of ridiculousness.

This is clearly a Gailey book. Queer characters that are into each other, but not the best about doing anything about it. Ridiculousness. Really supportive and loving found families. This just fits with queer hippo cowboys, lesbian librarian spies, and an exploding fish tank caused by horny snails (this isn’t a book, but follow their twitter or join their mailing list for just more wholesome ridiculousness and maybe the explanation).

Overall, if you are a fan of Gailey, then this is a good choice. If you are looking for a (darkly) lighthearted book with some silly and wholesome friendships, then this book is for you. If you want some hardcore magic or some really intense how did they get away with it, it probably isn’t for you (I hate both those things and I liked this book, so that is your warning).


4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.

You can buy the book here.