My wife and I went to our local comic shop several months ago, and this was one of the books she grabbed. I liked the art, she liked it was a story about women, by women.
I want to get out of the way right that the outset that the art of Sana Takeda is absolutely beautiful. I mean, that’s immediately obvious from the cover.
Beyond that, there was almost nothing about this book that I liked.
We start off with Maika Halfwolf, an Arcanic, trying to uncover what happened to her mother. She gets captured by Cumaea, an order of sorceresses who feed off Arcanics. She rescues another Arcanic, a child, from being eaten by the Cumaea.This Arcanic is scared that Maika is going to eat her.
While that all seems simple enough – it’s obscured by not so great storytelling. We don’t know who any of these characters are, or what Arcanics are, or what Cumaea are, or what this world is. We, the reader, have to figure it out largely from context clues, which makes the story fairly opaque and confusing.
On top of that, the Cumaea, the villains of the story, feed off Arcanics – who are often children. So there’s a lot of torture in this book. Torture of children. And so much child eating.
I wasn’t a fan.
The biggest issues, though, was it was just hard to follow what was going on. This is an entirely new world, and everything needs some kind of explanation – but those explanations are few and far between. I don’t always need everything clearly explained to me – but there has to be something to hold on to. I don’t think Liu was successful at explaining enough to get me invested without spoiling the mystery (assuming she’s actually trying to create some mystery). There’s a way to do that, and a way not to. This is how you don’t do it.
So, while there were a lot of pretty drawings to admire – I can’t recommend the book to anyone because it simply wasn’t enjoyable.