REVIEW: Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

Monstress, Vol. 1: AwakeningMonstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first volume of Monstress starts out with a bang and never looks back. This fantasy melding of oriental and occidental fairy tale storytelling feels like I've found something I used to love in a new and shiny package. Marjorie Liu's ability to tell a believable and horrible story of war in the midst of a grand fantasy adventure is quite impressive and though I was fully enrapt in the plot, there were times when parallels to some of the horrible injustices perpetrated in our world were too gritty and real to ignore.

An epic attempt at world building, this is the story of Maika Halfwolf, a half-Human, half-Ancient struggling to find her destiny in a world full of hate and fear. Maika's personal struggle quickly becomes one that may threaten all of existence when she discovers a grave power looming within her. You know, standard epic fairy tale stuff. Buffeted by a war between the humans and the half breed Arcanics, Monstress is fast-paced, but philosophical. A well thought out book full of violence and dirty secrets. If there is a weakness in this book... I don't know, too many cats? Not enough cats? Don't even ask me, this is a story tailor-made for my sensibilities.

And I haven't even mentioned the art yet. Sana Takeda brilliantly weaves Japanese and American styles to create beautiful and surprising images at every turn. I was constantly blown away by the intricate detail in panel after panel. Each character (of whom there are a ton) has its own look and feel. I can't imagine the time that went into character design. And then there are the Old Ones!...Well, just look:

Don't miss this one. There are a couple of similar stories I've reviewed recently, and this is more coherent than Pretty Deadly, and it is more compelling than Habitat. I'm telling you, read this book.

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