This post includes reviews of the currently available books in the Magi Accounts series:
- Our Hearts That Tie Us (#0.5)
- The Scars That Bind Us (#1)
- A Kiss to Revive Me (#1.5)
Our Hearts That Tie Us (Magi Accounts #0.5)
This novella is available as a free download via Prolific Works as part of the Your Book Boyfriend’s Boyfriend M/M Romance Group Giveaway 2022.
Since I read this novella after reading the first full-length book, I can’t speak to how well the world-building details hold up if this is your first experience with this series. That being said, I still absolutely adore this world and Notaro’s particular twist on fusing urban fantasy elements with real-world issues. The allegories aren’t necessarily subtle, but since they are still relevant, maybe they shouldn’t be. Rylen and Benton fill different roles and have slightly different backgrounds than Madeo and Cosmo, so although similarities with the next book exist, they exist on a smaller scale here.
Overall, Benton is a little too perfect to be real, so I understand much of Rylen’s tentative acceptance of his affections. Rylen’s experiences and warnings from other mages don’t make trust easy. Their happily ever after is achieved through character development on Rylen’s part, with the dark moment focusing completely on an external threat. This novella probably isn’t necessary reading for context for the full series, but it was worth spending the time to read it.
Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Goodreads.
The Scars That Bind Us (Magi Accounts #1)
Most books that feature romance in a contemporary world that includes magic or supernatural creatures are billed as paranormal romance. However, though a romantic relationship slowly evolves between two of the characters here, this book belongs firmly in the urban fantasy category (perhaps with romance tacked on at the end). This label is appropriate because the story’s focus is very much on the main character and his place in the world. That narrative frames the relationship he develops and, while sweet and sexy, is secondary to the main plot.
Madeo (Mads) and his magical partner Jude are at the true center of this book. As magi, they are at the bottom of the cultural/social pile in the country where they live (a sadly all-to-recognizable future United States). The way this pair was raised has traumatized them more than they perhaps let on in the text, but the signs are recognizable in how each man reacts to the people and events they experience. Mads, in particular, would not be able to get away with even how comparably little he acts out about his circumstances if he were not so powerful and therefore necessary to the country he unwillingly serves. However, we get to see the chilling alternative in what happens to another mage in the story’s first act.
Notaro does an excellent job of balancing world-building with story progression, especially at the beginning of the book. She also uses the roles magi and shifters play in this book’s society to comment on existing social issues, but while they are obvious, I never felt like I was being preached to. Instead, I enjoyed how Mads’ perception of another culture changes throughout the book. This trope has previously been used in fiction to show a person in a position of power recognizing the potential and goodness in someone of lower status. I appreciated how Notaro flips the script and makes the original conflict completely believable.
The romance between Mads and Cosmo is slow-burn and very much a sub-element of the book used to enhance the theme rather than the story’s focus. Though the entire book is from Mads’ point of view, Notaro fleshes out multiple secondary characters but doesn’t let them fall too far into the stereotypes she has created for her world. I look forward to reading more of this series, as much to enjoy how Mads and Cosmo continue to grow closer as to follow along with the greater found family element and the epic dangers they face together.
A Kiss to Revive Me (Magi Accounts #1.5)
I’m not sure whether this secondary novella is intended to be read as part of the full series, so I read it while taking both perspectives into account. Either way, I enjoyed getting a full story from Cosmo’s point of view, and I appreciate that the only territory Notaro retreads is the first time he encounters Madeo. The rest of the interactions between all characters happen after the first book’s events, while Cosmo and Madeo are still settling into a relationship despite the external barriers they face.
The external plot is a bit of a repeat of a secondary storyline from book 1, in which Madeo and his dyad Jude are determined to save a young mage from the abusive life in which they were raised. The significant difference here is that Cosmo is aware of their main goal and insists on helping (along with his pride). Along the way, Cosmo gets a huge wake-up call regarding the reality of living as a mage. I understand Madeo’s reluctance to share the past he’d rather keep locked away, especially when every new revelation of the dark underbelly of their society affects Cosmo like a punch to the gut.
Cosmo might be used to being a secondary member of their society as a shifter, but the gap between shifters and humans is minuscule compared to the chasm that further separates the mages. In this novella, he begins to learn how to deal with Madeo’s life on multiple levels. I think he’s getting there when it comes to Madeo’s life as a mage, and Notaro teases more of a further conflict as Cosmo realizes how close Madeo and Jude are bound with magic and what that might mean for a true romantic bond with him.
Even if this novella was not intended to be necessary reading for the full Magi Accounts series, I highly recommend that readers not miss it. I already look forward to seeing how elements of this story continue to thread throughout the next book and beyond.