Monstress Vol II: The Blood by Marjorie Lui & Sara Takeda.
In past few years through the convenience of Kindle and e comics, I have been diving into graphic novels. And after reading the Joe Hill masterpiece Lock and Key, I was on the outlook for another great dark fantasy horror. And all recommendations pointed to a series called Monstress. And when I read Monstress Vol. I, it was intriguing, unique, and was enjoyable yet very convoluted at points. And with the high costs of e comics, I was not ready to pay much more to continue this series that I thought was for the most part good, but not amazing. But the second volume went on sale. So here is my review of the graphic novel Monstress Vol. II: Blood. It’s written by Marjorie Lui with illustration by Sara Takeda.
So what is it about? First it takes place in industrial era fantasy world heavily influenced by Asian culture. In this world there are animal like gods and those who are mixed race descendants known as Arcanics. The story follow Maika, a young Arcanic with memory loss taking care of a young fox Arcanic child. In the past novel, Maika had become infected with this monster that can grow out of the stub of her missing arm. Cursed with this awful beast, she has decided to learn more about her mother to find answers and hopefully the curse itself.
This book begins in a port city safe for Arcanics where Maika, Kippa and their cat friend Ren are far away from the witches and politics of the prior novel. She meets an old friend she sees as an uncle and he agrees to help her. He allows her to use his ship and crew to head out to a forbidden island. It’s a place her mother once traveled to and Maika intends to find what her mother found. And she is doing this against all warnings as people don’t returned from island.
Now the good and bad? First off, this book, has some of the best art work I have ever seen. It is so intricate, detailed, and beautiful. Seriously some of this still is this book are worthy of hanging on a wall for display. The story itself, I feel was told better this time around. It was tighter and easier to follow. In the last book, there was a million things introduced, half a dozen groups and/or races to keep up with, politics, some long lost best friend and the whole story ran at a break neck pace. In fact, every thirty pages or so, the last book had interspersed cartoons with cats lecturing the reader about the world. And to be honest if it wasn’t for the cat lectures, I would have not have understood volume one. But here volume two, the cat lectures were not needed. It was not convoluted at all. This time around, I thought it was better story wise. With the slower pace, it was easier to connect to Maika, Ren, the monster and Kippa. They seemed much more developed this time around. Also, I have to say I love that this book managed to keep things dark and scary. It’s not over the top, but is so simple. For instance, there are these masked folks on the island. There are three random holes in their masks for eyes to match the freaky faces of these beings the reader doesn't get to see. It’s this unsettling obscure horror I really think is great. Also the villain is just great. Also the little fox girl Kippa is the cutest character ever.
The bad? This for the most part was fantastic. One thing that I found very weird though are the gods. They are upright walking animals with human shaped characteristics and it’s weird. It the film Cats level weird. But I guess since humans to have children with the things I guess it make some sense. It just a whacky aspect of the story. I still have trouble getting on board with.
Overall, I actually did like this one much better than the first. I like Maika and the gang much more and the journey had a lot more heart to it. It’s spooky, imaginative and beautifully told tale with glorious artwork. I say this is a must read. So I recommend it.
5 smoothies out of Five.
Overall Rating: This Second Round Creates a Dark Fantasy Masterpiece worth Reading