Monday, January 23, 2017

Curses x Two • The Cursed Queen & Monstress

The Cursed Queen book cover
The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine
Series: The Impostor Queen #2
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)
(I'm a Book Depository affiliate! It would be lovely if you used my referral link if you wanted to buy this book, as I get a very small commission from it and will be putting that cash towards giveaways and other blog-related things.)

The Cursed Queen, companion novel to The Impostor Queen, is about a girl named Ansa, who was orphaned at an extremely young age and taken by the tribe that conquered her village. She grows up with them, determined to prove that she is worthy of being called Krigere and that she belongs among their ranks. Together with her best friend and the chieftain’s daughter Thyra, Ansa accompanies their warriors on a trip to wage war against the country of Kupari for glory and fortune – only to have the tides turn, and a full massacre take out everyone except Ansa, Thyra and their friend Sander. As the Krigere are forced to embark on a journey away from the place they’ve called home, everything Ansa believed in is called into question and she must figure out what ought to be done – for the clan, for Thyra and for the curse that threatens all of her dreams of the future.

I was really impressed by The Impostor Queen, and I’m happy to be able to say that I loved The Cursed Queen just as much, if not more, than its predecessor. It was incredibly interesting to read about Ansa, as she marries two things that I love in a character – a fierce, smart warrior and a girl not afraid to be vulnerable, even if only on her own. It’s because I loved seeing her growth that I truly fell in love with this story! Also, Fine does a really good job weaving both Ansa’s individual problems and those she takes on as part of the Krigere clan into one cohesive story. It made her so much more complex than I expected, and I really liked that a lot.

Clearly, I’m very attached to Ansa. But there are other things to love about The Cursed Queen. There is the way that Fine expanded this world she created in The Impostor Queen, including subtle details that readers who have read the first novel will definitely pick up on. There is the additional ensemble of characters, majority of whom are morally gray instead of just good or just evil. There is the story itself, which is a great balance of plot, world and character and also manages to be extremely compelling. All in all, it was a winning combination of elements that resulted in The Cursed Queen and I really enjoyed it! I’d highly recommend reading this book, as well as The Impostor Queen, if you haven’t already or if you’re in the market for a new YA fantasy series to read.



Monstress book cover
Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda
Series: Monstress #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Source: Purchased at New York Comic Con 2016
(I'm a Book Depository affiliate! It would be lovely if you used my referral link if you wanted to buy this book, as I get a very small commission from it and will be putting that cash towards giveaways and other blog-related things.)

Monstress is the story of a young girl named Maika Halfwolf, a girl determined to suss out the truth of her past and the situation in her present. And if that mission requires a touch of violence and murder, well, she's up for it as long as she arrives at the understanding of herself and her history that she needs. What complicates things for Maika, however, is that the world she lives in is a world where two races - humans and arcanics - are in the middle of a stalemate during a war they've been engaged in for many years. As she continues to dig for the truth, Maika faces opposition and friendship in equal measure.

I loved Monstress, y'all.

This first volume of Monstress includes the first six single issues, and it's definitely a substantial amount of story for this trade paperback collection. Readers will get a real glimpse into the incredible world that Liu & Takeda have created as a backdrop for their tale, including detailed art that allows you to get to know the world and characters on a visual level, as well as a couple of randomly inserted history lessons that explain the state of things. It is, without question, one of the most diverse and female-centered stories I've ever read, and that definitely made me happy! The word volume is a bit denser than I expected, but readers are not likely to notice considering the amount of action our characters see as well. There are battle scenes and conversational moments, and they all tie together to become the beginning of an epic saga.

My favorite thing about this story is the main character, Maika Halfwolf. I love that they portrayed her as a girl who can take care of herself in extremely difficult circumstances, a girl driven by her determination to understand, a girl who is also surprisingly vulnerable and unwilling to risk her safety and her mission to be close to others. It makes for a complex character with both an external and internal conflict to contend with, and the authors depicted that very well in these first few issues. I certainly look forward to reading more of her story in the next volume to come, and I definitely would recommend checking out Monstress if you haven't already.

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