Monstress Volume One: Awakening


Aug 05, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Marjorie Liu (writer) and Sana Takeda (artist) present us with a master class in proper world-building. It's an immense, matriarchal fantasy world full of details, but these details are delivered on a digestible, need-to-know basis, in the context of a compelling narrative, rather than a sledgehammer of info dump after info dump.

Maika Halfwolf is an Arcanic, a non-human, who, unlike much of her kind, can pass as human. She's missing an arm, has a mysterious tattoo, a mission to discover her dead mother's mysteries, and, oh yeah, seems to have something sinister living inside of her. The revelations unfold at a satisfying pace, creating tension but not frustration.

The painterly splashes, full-page spreads, and static images are almost too beautiful to believe, and Takeda's style translates surprisingly well to the often visceral action-filled parts of the book. The designs might be the best thing about Monstress: the too-cute, two-tailed cat "nekomancer"; the intricate costumes and armors; the techno-magic implements; and the Cthulu-esque ghosts that plague the atmosphere.

Monstress is a gorgeous epic fantasy with horror elements that avoids oft-regurgitated genre pitfalls with a fresh take on society, relationships, and, well, almost everything. A real gem. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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