Publisher: Image Comics
Date of Publication: July 19th, 2016
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.
My Rating: ★★★★★
I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked up Monstress from my library’s shelf. All I knew was that the cover art was gorgeous, and that I hadn’t read a graphic novel in a while.
Now that I’ve read it, I will tell you this: it is a violent, dark, mysterious adventure that may just blow your socks off.
This first volume doesn’t give too many details about what the heck is going on, which I can imagine has frustrated and will continue to frustrate people. I was not personally bothered by it, though, because the storytelling is so beautifully done that I was hanging on every single word; the authors gave me just enough information to keep up, but never enough to figure it all out in the beginning. If you like suspenseful stories, I highly recommend this one.
I am totally fascinated by this matriarchal world that the characters live in, with all the cat-like creatures and non-human beings. Why are they at war (actually this is answered in there, but I won’t spoil it)? What happened to Maiko that has caused all of this to happen to her? What are the stories of the other characters? I hope to learn more about the different group leaders in future volumes!
I also want to mention that the reveal/cliffhanger at the end left me sitting in my chair, contemplating everything I’d just read. Honestly, this graphic novel is just so cleverly written, with so much intensity that my brain was exhausted by the time I finished it. A good kind of exhausted, though.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the art. Its dark colour scheme suited the feeling of the story so well, adding that extra layer to pull you into the world. The clothing and hair were full of movement, the characters and setting detailed beyond any other graphic novels I’ve seen, and I must say that, though there are many, many instances of bloodshed and violent imagery, this may be my favourite art style.
Overall: A beautifully written and illustrated story that’s not for the faint of heart, but I definitely recommend it to anyone who can handle it!