“That’s the key to doing stuff you’re scared of. You gotta run at it.”
When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey is a contemporary YA fantasy with a cast of incredibly diverse, memorable characters that will stay with me for a long time.
This book promised queer witches, a sapphic romance plot, and healthy female friendships. What’s not to love? The cast of characters and their interpersonal relationships were very well developed, and the six witches were complex, fully realized individuals. Gailey also found a solid balance between being plot driven and focusing on character development, which made for a compelling and engaging story that I devoured in a single day.
Admittedly, I did have a few gripes about this story, but they’re more about my own personal likes and dislikes than a reflection of the author or story. My main issues were with the romance plotline, because I’m not a huge fan of extended mutual pining and I largely prefer Enemies-to-Lovers over Friends-to-Lovers. Overall, I enjoyed the book enough to order a physical copy for myself after reading the ebook via Scribd, and I still highly recommend checking out When We Were Magic!
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.
Final thoughts: When We Were Magic is the queer witch girl gang novel we want and deserve.
When We Were Magic At a Glance:
Genre: Contemporary YA Fantasy
Themes/Tropes: Slow burn, Friends to Lovers, Mutual Pining
LGBT Rep? Yes! This book features multiple queer/sapphic characters of varying identities, and a slow burn f/f romance plotline.
Own Voices? Yes!
Content Warnings (CW): Death/murder (unintentional, but still), body horror