Marjorie Lu & Sana Takeda
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, Monstress tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.
Some series are meant to be read completely together, and this is likely one of them. You are left in the dark to begin, and along the way the world building takes place and things are revealed. A main part of Montress is Maika piecing together her past. While I am always a bit frustrated being in the dark, Marjorie Liu wields the story in a manner that makes it a compulsive read. I was compelled to quickly read it to understand the world and the characters.
I enjoyed the dark atmosphere and really interesting world that is built. The main characters are easy to like and the villains are easy to hate, despite the moral uncertainty. It is also worth mentioning that the societies in Montress are matriarchal. In addition, there is a whole race of cats that feline lovers will enjoy.
The art is absolutely beautiful. Even someone uneducated about art can see the different influences behind Sana Takeda’s art – manga, art deco, ancient Egyptian art, steampunk, and so on. Takeda uses these influences to create rich, detailed images. The only real weakness I found were the faces that ended up being doll-like and pristine. But honestly, it did not bother me
My only real criticism is that there are quite a few grisly horror scenes that felt a little forced, and in some cases, unnecessary. I can see it being a deterrent for some readers. I just found out did not really add to the story.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Monstress: Awakening and will be quickly buying the other volumes. I recommend this series for both fantasy and non-fantasy lovers.
Montress, Vol. 1: Awakening
July 19, 2016
Too many awards to list