Book Review | The Scars That Bind Us by Michele Notaro

The Magi Accounts 1 – The Scars That Binds Us by Michele Notaro

Sometimes the worst scars are the ones you can’t see.

World War III broke out 130 years ago when humans found out that my people—magi—and shifters were real. They’ve been imprisoning and enslaving our two species since. But now humans need our help protecting the world from the strange monsters they let cross the veil between realms. 

Eighteen years ago, my world changed. Suddenly I was allowed freedoms I’d never had before, but I was still at the Non-Human Specialties Operations’ beck and call. Which is how I found myself on a team with my best friend, five shifters, and a human.

Now, I have to figure out a way to work with others—with shifters. I’ve never been one to trust easily, and I don’t see that changing, but this shifter pride has a way of getting past my walls. Unfortunately, all that means is now I have even more people I need to protect against the evils of this world, and I really don’t know how I’m gonna do it.

All three species have been at odds for more than a century, but maybe Cosmo—a lion shifter—and I can put aside our differences to work together and keep everyone safe. And if I’m secretly crushing on the guy, well, I think I’ll keep that to myself.

The Scars That Bind Us is a 115K word novel and the first book in the MM urban fantasy series, The Magi Accounts

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How was it?

The first entry of The Magi Accounts is both heavy and sweet. The history that introduces this world of Magi and shifters is brief but the effect of that gruesome past is very much felt throughout the book. So the weight of that 130 years history permeates the book, meaning speciesism – to use a word from the book – established discriminations of all sorts, and microaggressions. On top of that there are – brief – mentions of past abuse, and yet it never takes away anything away from the core story. It doesn’t overtake it, it just grounds the story in a chilling realistic way. Because humans can be trash – it’s just my opinion.

I very much like the pace of the story, it’s well-balanced. A lot of it establishes the world, its magic and paranormal and interdimensional species. It also has an interesting dynamic when it comes to the main characters, because the bonded friends, Madeo and Jude, take as much space in the overall story – if not more – than Madeo’s romantic pairing. I loved that. It show a deep, non-sexual friendship between two queer men. Some might call it fantasy but they do exist, and if Jude hadn’t been giving his dues he totally would’ve seem like Madeo’s servent.
While establishing Mad and Jude’s relationship Notaro manages to build a new one between these two with Logan creating a small family unit for them. On the other side of that the close-knit relationship between Cosmo and the members of his shifter pride is very much felt if not as heavily detailed. So when both families start to merge it’s very endearing, in particular taking into account the Magi’s past.

Romance-wise the relationship between Cosmo and Madeo is only at its beginning, a good one with a solidifying base as we go along. Because the story is told through Madeo’s perspective, Cosmo doesn’t seem to have as much depth but again it’s the beginning of their relationships and this book is the start of a series.

In terms of the class system systems between races, with Magi on the lowest rung, it’s good to see the wrong assumptions shifters and Magi have of each other’s lives. I also love how well the microaggressions were depicted but it would have been better if they weren’t always pointed out. Speaking from personal experience, when you’re the target of microaggressions they don’t all always get a response (internal or otherwise), because sadly you get used to them. It would have been more interesting to see how many people would have picked on them if they weren’t made obvious by Madeo’s emotional responses.

I got so reluctant to finish this book toward the end, it was crazy. I sat on that last chapter and epilogue for way too long. This book is immersive, and I’m excited for the future because I suspected more even exciting things are coming.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Scars That Binds Us will be available on Amazon and other book retailers near you.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by GRR for a fair, unbiased review.

The Magi Account book 1 was released on February 22, 2022.

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