The multiple Eisner-winning series Monstress follows the journey of Maika Halfwolf, daughter of powerful Arcanics, as she tries to figure out what happened to her mother, and what exactly is inhabiting her body. In Vol. 2: The Blood, Maika, the fox Arcanic, Kippa, and the cat-poet, Ren, set out from the pirate city of Thyria, retracing her mother’s steps in her quest to discover the secrets of the Shaman-Empress, the first and most powerful Arcanics in history. Maika believes this quest will lead to answers about the vicious being who has taken up root in Maika. Her quest brings her to the Isle of Bones where an Ancient dwells and tortures the souls of those who unluckily end up there. 

Vol.3: Haven sees Maika, Kippa, and Ren retreat to the refugee city of Pontus, but the shield that has protected the city for generations has stopped working. Only a person with a blood connection to the Shaman-Empress can run the technology and help fix it. By now, the monster inside Maika has grown strong enough to take on a full physical form and remember pieces of who he was. Zinn seeks to know more about Maika as he uncovers Maika’s memories that have been long since forgotten, and he shows Maika more about himself and his connection to the Shaman-Empress. The list of Maika and Zinn’s pursuers grows longer, and their list of allies shrinks. 

Maika is not a stereotypical heroine in need of saving. She’s rude, unfeeling, and singularly focused on finding out what happened to her mother. She doesn’t want to kill indiscriminately, as Zinn wants, but she has no qualms with kicking the butts of whoever gets in her way. Kippa steals the scenes constantly with her childlike innocence and her oversized heart that cares for everyone, even those who betray her and Maika. Maika scares the daylights out of Kippa frequently, but since Volume 1, The Awakening; Kippa has been steadfast in her opinion that the safest place to be is with one of the most dangerous beings.

Sana Takeda’s art is one of the biggest stars of this series. The amount of detail in each panel is breathtaking. Each piece of clothing and technology is intricate and lush. The color palette is likewise beautiful—a striking mix of pastels and jewel tones with plenty of gold accents throughout. The full page splashes are definitely worth a moment to pause and take in, despite the need readers will feel to keep reading.

There are some content warnings for this title. Characters are not shy about dropping f-bombs frequently, elevating this to a rated-R movie status within the first few pages. There is also a lot of violence and bloodshed. There are a few panels of suggested nudity where most of the body is covered by hair or other objects. For readers (and library collections) comfortable with the prevalence of strong language and violence, this rich fantasy is a worthy purchase for fans of intricate stories like The Wicked + The Divine, or epic high fantasy stories like Game of Thrones and anything by Patrick Ruthfuss.

Monstress, Volumes 2&3
By Marjorie Liu
Art by Sana Takeda
Vol. 2: The Blood
ISBN: 9781534300415
Vol.3: Haven
ISBN: 9781534306912
Image Comics, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: Mature
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)

  • Sara

    | She/Her Teacher Librarian

    Sara is the Teacher Librarian at a high school in a small, rural town in California. Previously, she taught for 6 years in the English department at the same school. Her passion for manga began early in life when a friend introduced her to Sailor Moon. She jumped on the comics bandwagon with the popularity of comic-inspired movies, and she has recently come to enjoy publishers outside of the superhero genre. Graphic novels are a big hit at Sara's school, so she has carefully collected thousands of volumes that frequently fly off the shelves and into students' hands.

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