March 6, 2020

Review: Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen

Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen by Marjorie M. Liu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know they're not usually found in graphic novels, but there are two things that would improve this book's reading experience: 1) a plot recap; and 2) a dramatis personae list. As I worked my way through this, I occasionally wondered if I needed to stop and re-read the first three volumes just to get back up to speed. Eventually I managed to stumble through, but that's just one indication of how dense this story has gotten. 

That's not a knock on it, by the way. Marjorie Liu has constructed an incredible world, comparable to a multi-volume fantasy series. There is a weight of history here, bearing down on protagonist Maika Halfwolf in particular, that would almost be better served by a fat doorstopper of a print book. That this story is being told in graphic novel format is a testament to Liu's writing skills, and especially Sana Takeda's art, which will carry the reader along even when the occasional page isn't making much sense.

Having said that, this volume did seem noticeably slower than those preceding. We do find out what happened to Kippa--she was kidnapped by Lord Doctor, who took her to bring Maika to him. The Lord Doctor is Maika's biological father and he held the Old God Zinn before her, learning many of its secrets. Kippa, meanwhile, does some growing up of her own--though she remains a beacon of goodness and loyalty in this twisted, cynical world--becoming awakened to her own arcanic gifts. They end up in the Lord Doctor's custody as all sides prepare for battle, against themselves and against more ancient Lovecraftian monsters waiting to be unleashed.

This is a dark story, and I wonder how long the creators can keep stretching out its intrinsic grimness. Still, it's more than absorbing enough to keep me reading, so far.

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