Monstress Vol. 1 by Marjorie M. Liu (Book Review)

Monstress, Vol. 1: AwakeningMonstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What this book is about:

Humans are at war with a hybrid race called Arcanics. Arcanics that are captured by humans are sold as slaves to the highest bidder. The Cumaea who are human witches are experimenting on the slaves and extracting from their bodies a powerful, valuable substance called Lilium. Maika Halfwolf is a young girl recently captured and brought to the Cumaea. But little did they know that she is not as fragile as she seems and her hunger for answers can be lethal..


A refreshing graphic novel volume starting with a rather large issue of 70 pages. This volume includes six issues with issues 2-6 being much smaller than the first one. This is a fantasy story with a female protagonist, Maika Halfwolf who is captured in the beginning of the story and is given as a slave along with other Arcanic children to the Cumaea. The story unfolds through glimpses of the past and the present which switch every few pages to add more information to the story line.

The art is much praised by many reviewers and that is because it is amazing. The art style is more mature and the content of the story itself is not for younger readers. There is much attention to details, intricate designs supporting an interesting storyline. The facial expressions and strong emotions especially madness, is portraid through the illustrations that at time could be rather disturbing.

TemplateA story of self-discovering, searching for answers and of a protagonist trying to understand where she comes from and what happened to her.Maika is, in every sense of the word, a badass. She is a girl with a side of her that is dark and twisted. Desperately on the hunt to find answers and to figure out how to save herself from losing her sanity, we follow her journey through various encounters with people and other more magical creatures. Always in danger, always searching.

Getting a clear idea of where we stand as readers and what is currently happening in the world, this graphic novel is easy to follow. Sometimes it is hard to dive into a new story with characters you’ve never seen before. In the first issue of this volume we are immediately introduced to a storyline of a war between humans and hybrid creatures who have both human and animal attributes. This war has brought distruction to the world and a change of hierarchies. The Arcanics are dominated by humans who treat them like nothing more than a source for Lilium. All this information is clear from the first issue and helps the reader to follow the story and not get overwhelmed by the newly introduced events.

Although the story somewhat lacks originality it is well-executed and fun to follow. In the fantasy genre this story has already been told before many times. A protagonist scared of him/herself and their powers. A villain and a supervillain trying to kill the protagonist. Without saying that the story is boring, because it’s not, this is not something we’ve never seen before. But, this whole graphic novel is very well-composed, from the characters to the illustrations, everything comes together nicely. The raw, twisted, sick scenes, the comic relief in the form of a Nekomancer cat, the cute, sweet, innocent animal/children hybrids. Good times!

What at times doesn’t really bode well with the ambience of the plot and era is the modernised language. There certainly exist point where the language is more fitting to the story but through the illustrative narration here are times that we encounter modern, everyday curse words. This is really a minute detail that I picked from the graphic novel but it’s things like that, that bring the story to another level and offer a more fantastical experience into a made-up realm.

Here we have a strong female protagonist with powers seemingly uncontrollable in a mission to find answers about her past and free herself from her bodily “chains”. Along with her three companions she goes on a journey full of danger while humans and hybrids are involved in a war of massive proportions. This is a classic fantasy story that will appeal to most fans of the genre and especially those who enjoy it in graphic form. The illustrations are wonderful but with mature content and language making it inappropriate for very young readers. If this sounds interesting to you I recommend you check it out. A fun first volume with a promising future.



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