That just changed. I picked up this graphic novel early last year, attracted by the beautiful artwork. But almost as soon as I opened it, I knew I had made a mistake. This was an incredibly dark story, and I wasn’t in the proper frame of mind to handle that level of darkness.
Fast forward to yesterday. I decided I was in the mood to try Monstress one more time, and I consumed it. There is something about the balance of the exquisite art with the bleak story line that spoke to me and held me in its thrall until the final page, at which point I immediately sought out volume 2. I was blown away by the beauty of the artwork, and I was entranced by the dark plot and disturbing characters. The setting was lovely and scary at the same time, and I loved the hints of Eastern influence in the art.
While I found it absolutely gorgeous, I can’t give the graphic novel 5 full stars. For me, some of the story was overpowered by the art, resulting in a weakened plot in certain areas. But its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. The art reminded me a bit of the Miyazaki anime movie Princess Mononoke, which I’ve also found fascinating. The plot reminded me a bit of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, which I absolutely love. And yet, Monstress stands out as a story completely unique and original, which I greatly appreciate.
I will definitely be reading volume 2 of this story, as well as future volumes. It’s actually made me want to give other graphic novels another try. Should I finish the Saga series? Should I give Neil Gaiman’s Sandman another chance? I think the answer to both of those questions might be yes, thanks to Marjorie Liu.