I love this series so much.
Maika has been explicitly confirmed as queer! I mean, it was pretty obvious from the first two volumes too, but there are people who will ignore every hint when it comes to women liking other women. Her past romance and complicated relationship with Tuya is both very compelling and heartbreaking to read and I want to know more.
Maika isn’t the only queer character – I described this book as a “gay steampunk Asian matriarchy“, because by now I pretty much assume that every character here is queer until it’s confirmed otherwise, and I love this.
I love the way women are portrayed here. They’re beautiful without being sexualized, and they’re not written for men – it’s clear that men are not the intended audience. (Also, I don’t think there are any white people in this book.)
Another thing I love about this series? It trusts its readers. Which means that yes, sometimes it’s confusing. Sometimes I have to go back and reread parts, sometimes it takes me a while to understand what’s happening. But I love how it doesn’t talk down to the reader, how its world is just as complex as one you’d find in a fantasy novel – and even more beautiful, of course. This series has some of the most gorgeous panels I’ve ever seen. Sometimes, I went back and reread parts just for that.
But I have to say that with this volume, the many PoV changes lost me sometimes. I couldn’t follow so many storylines at once, with all those setting and time jumps, which added to my confusion. Also, I’m here mostly for Maika’s story – both present and past – and some of the subplots just aren’t as interesting.
Monstress is a story about war, about a traumatized teenage girl with a terrible past and even worse secrets. It reads like a darkest, less romantic, more diverse Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It’s everything I want from a fantasy comic, and I’m glad it’s getting the recognition it deserves.
I can’t wait for the next volume – I especially want to see more about Tuya, both in the past and in the present.
My rating: ★★★★½