When I first started going to a real comic book store, I discovered that I have a love of reading comics issue by issue, instead of bound volumes. I still only get the comic book shop every few months or so, but this was the first comic I started reading by issue!
From the Back Cover of Volume 1:
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, 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.
I was first drawn to Monstress by the art – the cover offers a brief glimpse into the sheer greatness that is Sana Takeda’s incredible artistic talent. The entirety of the graphic novel is heavily illustrated and intricately detailed. I’m a sucker for good artwork and will keep reading a story for the art even if I’ve gotten bored with the plot and will leave a graphic novel series if the art style changes and I don’t like it, even if I’m still into the story. I’m a visual person, it can’t be helped.
The good news here, is that both story and art are amazing. I’ve been reading issue by issue as they’re available and I think that up through bound volume four is currently available in that binding style. And while I was first drawn to pick it up by the art, I came to deeply love the story and the characters within.
I was lucky enough to tell Marjorie Liu how much I loved her work at BookExpo last year (where I was supposed to be headed on Wednesday before Covid-19 led to it’s cancellation). She was part of a group of authors doing a morning signing (I made my coworkers leave the Philly area for NYC at 6am just so I could meet her) and while everyone else in the room ran towards Malcolm Gladwell and other bestselling authors, I made sure I was standing first in line for Marjorie. For the longest time, I was the only one waiting and it made me so sad. Did no one else, no other bookseller, understand that they were in the presence of greatness? Did no one else recognize the power of a great graphic novel?
I told Marjorie Liu how much I loved her character development, her morally gray, delightfully frightful, well-rounded characters. I told her all about how much becoming a comic fan changed my approach to reading of all genres. And then I told her more about the awesome two guys at my local comic shop way more than I told her about the bookstore (I routinely send people their way from the store if they want something comic related) – and then she told me how familiar she was with the greater Philadelphia area! I flipped out.
If you’re a fantasy fan, a graphic novel fan, an art lover, or someone who loves the Jazz Age and the 1920s, or pirates, or just about anything cool and fun, Monstress is for you. It’s routed in mythology and feminism and so many other terrific genres that resonate deeply with today’s comic and graphic novel lovers. (Definitely an adult series, maybe older teens.)
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.