Monstress takes place in a world where Ancients, beings of various appearances and powers, exist alongside humans. Long ago they lived peacefully enough together to intermarry and have children of mixed heritage known as Arcanics. There are also witch-nuns, an order known as the Cumaea. The world is complex, the plotting going on among the different races (and factions within them) is convoluted, and the loyalties of the various characters is hard to determine. The mix of magic, science (of sorts), and odd weaponry provides danger from every direction.
The central character of Maika Halfwolf is driven by a need to find answers about her mysterious past, but others are looking for her and have their own plans. While she tries to track down the truth about her mother and what happened when she was a child, it seems like members of every group within her world is out to get her. Whether it is for the power of her blood, magical relics she might have, or to question her over an attack on a Cumaean enclave, everyone wants her for something.
The illustrations for the story are incredibly detailed. The Arcanic with their wings, fox tails, and other animal features are so carefully drawn and colored that they seem as if they might really exist. The intricate patterns on the robes of the Cumaean witch-nuns and the Council's Inquisitrix officers are beautiful. And the construction of the giant airship would make the heart of any steampunk fan flutter with joy. Bits of history are worked carefully into the story, so that readers learn a little at a time what happened before the events in the book. The lectures from esteemed Professor Tam Tam are very helpful in making sense of the backstory, and it is very amusing to hear a history recitation from a talking cat with multiple tails.
Readers who enjoy a mix of steampunk and fantasy will find this a well-developed world with plenty to delve into and enjoy.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher for review purposes.