Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2018
Source: Kindle Copy
|Content warnings: Torture, plague, explosion, drug abuse, vomiting
My current favorite thing to witness in sequels is actual reckoning with consequences of the previous entry. Monster picks up right where Traitor left off. I’ll avoid spoilers, but it leads Baru on a chase around the known world, helping her masters figure what made the Oriati Mbo so powerful while furthering her schemes of tearing up the Masquerade from within. As you can imagine, this makes her immensely popular.
The scope of the world is absolutely massive in this second entry. There are new colonies to explore, old civilizations, new customs, and a whole additional cast. But the plot itself remains so focused, with economies to collapse and other machinations which lend so well to political fantasy without the added complication of magic. Of the new intros, my heart hurts for both the Apparitor (who is done with everyone’s crap) and Tau-indi, a third gender Prince burned by their station and friends alike. The non-European world-building throughout is such a nice reprieve from other models, and the variety is astounding. The real-world analogues are there, but the presentation of names and societies create something befitting a secondary world.
What really shines in the sequel is the amount of processing. Baru is a mess, to put it gently. The book goes to great lengths in terms of exploring what trying to dismantle major world powers does to people. Neither her interior journey nor the various shifts in POV let us, the readers, catch a break from the overwhelming guilt. My personal favorite was Aminata, who knew a few versions of Baru and truly wants to keep her safe. But Baru seems to be her own worst enemy, losing sanity and digits along the way.
A fabulous sequel which blossoms in scope but maintains its untrustworthy tone and darker elements. I am immediately reading Tyrant next.