MONSTRESS 4: The Chosen: More evocative storytelling from two masters

Monstress: Volume 4 by Marjorie Liu and Sana TakedaMONSTRESS 4: The Chosen by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda

Monstress: Volume 4 by Marjorie Liu and Sana TakedaThe saga continues with the fourth volume of Marjorie Liu and Sana Takenda‘s epic fantasy MONSTRESS, which at this point is so complex and intricate that it’s difficult to properly summarize it.

Set in an alternate matriarchal 19th century Asia, with a steampunk/art deco/Egyptian aesthetic, this is the story of Maika Halfwolf and the terrible demonic presence that resides within her, one that sporadically bursts forth to cause destruction and mayhem, but occasionally offering her advice and companionship as well.

Her world is in the middle of a devastating war, in which magic and science are constantly finding new ways to spread ruination, and increasingly powerful forces threaten to end all of civilization. Maika finds herself in the company of a man called the Lord Doctor, who claims to be her long-lost father — though Maika doesn’t trust him at all.

This volume, which is comprised of issues nineteen to twenty four, feels more like a transition than a continuation. The characters are shuffled around, questions are raised and (partially) answered, and you feel as though things are being brought to the brink of a massive change. A lot of Maika’s background is explored here, as well as some focus on Kippa and resolution for Ren.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda(MONSTRESS Vol. 4: The Chosen (2019) is a great volume for Kippa in particular; after being a tagalong kid paralyzed by fear for most of this journey, she finally starts to act with bravery and cunning).

At this point the politics are impenetrable: I honestly couldn’t tell you who is allied with who or what each faction’s ultimate goals are. I’m here for Takeda’s gorgeous artwork and a story that is overwhelmingly populated with female characters — good and bad, young and old, rich and poor. It’s exhilarating to have so many dynamics between such a wide range of women, and this aspect has always been the major drawcard for me.

Hopefully things will start to head towards a climactic finish after this volume; I feel that all the necessary characters have been introduced, and all the pieces put in place for a strong conclusion.

MONSTRESS Vol. 4: The Chosen contained everything I love from the MONSTRESS saga: the female characters, the extraordinary illustrations, the complex world-building, and the promise of more adventures to come.

Published in 2019. Maika and Corvin make their way through a warped and lethal land in search of Kippa, who is faced with her own terrible monsters. But when Maika comes face-to-face with a stranger from her deep past, startling truths are uncovered, and at the center of it all lurks a dangerous conspiracy that threatens the Known World. Maika is finally close to getting all the answers she ever wanted, but at what price? With war on the horizon-a war no one wants to stop-whose side will Maika choose? Collects MONSTRESS #19-24.

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REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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