Maika Halfwolf (17) is a human-passing Arcanic, a race of magical creatures captured by humans and sent to a slaving camp. She is missing and arm and has been branded with a strange eye symbol on her chest. She is also orphaned, her mother having been killed in the ongoing war. Maika is ultimately sold to Sophie, a witch-nun (sorceress) who is part of the Cumea. The Cumea is an order of witches who consume Arcanics for power and use their corpses to create “lilium,” a material ultimately used against the people it is sourced from.
After briefly being tortured with a lilium weapon, Maika’s power - an ability to unlock locks - is unleashed. She unlocks the cells of all of the enslaved Arcanic imprisoned alongside her and encourages them to escape. She returns to the compound and meets Yvette, a sorceress who says she knew Maika’s mother, Moriko. They were colleagues searching for the tomb of an Arcanic shaman-priestess. They never found the shamen-empress, but it is clear that Maika’s power is linked to a fragment of a mask Moriko found in the tomb. That mask is what took Maika's arm. After killing Yvette, she realizes the Cumea have another piece of the mask. She grabs it and then escapes the compound with two other slaves. Once beyond the walls, Maika is overwhelmed by the mask’s hunger for flesh and collapses onto the floor.
BTSYA / Teen Reader (16):
The first installment of Marjorie Liu’s graphic novel series wonderfully blends her dark fantasy story with Sana Takeda’s beautiful art. Maika’s bravery, and tale of survival is simultaneously bleak and inspiring. Her journey humanizes those who have survived a war, while also commenting on the trauma that results from such an experience.
This series is written for adults, so it is geared towards a mature audience, as it incorporates themes of war, slavery, dehumanization, and survival to create a gripping tale. Further depictions of death, rape, partial nudity, and child slavery are also triggering content. This book would be a great gift for someone sixteen or older interested in dark fantasy and the effects of war.
Amazing, eye-popping illustrations and a strong heroine will appeal to mature readers who love graphic sagas.
Profanity, grpahic violence, sexual scenes (including rape), partial nudity, and enslaved people. This is an adult graphic novel that has "crossover appeal" for teens.
This is an adult graphic novel series that has shown its appeal with teens.
The story is set in Asia of the early 1900s, so there may be cultural context that can be gleaned from the story. It is largely meant to be enjoyed as a visual read.
16 and Up
15 and Up
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 16
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