Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery
By Kurtis J. Wiebe (Author), Roc Upchurch (Artist)
Graphic Novels, Fantasy, Humour
Buy on Amazon
So just a heads up that from the very beginning, this is going to be a crass review and not my normal write-up, but then this is a crass/unusual book so… fair game?
Meet the Rat Queens. Four women who make up a gang of mercenaries, who work hard and play harder. To quote the back of the book: “They’re a pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hir and they’re in the business of killing all the god’s creatures for profit.”
At first glance, I was just expecting a funny adventure. It had been hyped up to high heaven to me and I was worried that the hype would overwhelm any sense of enjoyment that I would have. That was thankfully, not even close to the case.
First things, first: mega points for making me giggle in public multiple times while reading it.
Rat Queens is incredible and unapologetic. It’s crass, bloody, and unashamed in its female focused narrative. It is unabashedly sex positive, queer positive, mental health positive, and it just goes on from there.
There’s Hannah, the Elven Mage who think she knows the best way to do things and is determined to it that way. She’s crass and forward facing, willing to take matters into her own hands.
There’s Violet, the Dwarf fighter who shaved her beard off before it was cool. She’s the tank who acts as the foundation of the group and is the first to run into battle.
Dee was my favourite. She’s an atheist human cleric who is shy and has anxiety around parties which basically makes her the cutest thing ever. Her parents worship a giant squid which makes things a bit awkward for her.
And last but certainly not least, there’s Betty who is a Smidgen thief. She’s the most perceptive of them all, and helps them to pull together loose ends to solve the mystery Sherlock-style.
The entire book has gorgeous characterization which doesn’t mean that they’re pleasant people or even admirable people. What I mean by gorgeous characterization is that within ten pages they felt real. I could see that there was more to them and to this world than what was immediately being spoon fed to me. The world felt deep and vibrant and real in a way that I don’t normally get to see in graphic novels.
Even the supporting characters get their own arcs throughout the story, feeling like more than bit characters. That’s a lot to fit into 130 pages, but somehow Rat Queens manages to pull it off.
Actually, that made it seem like they only just managed to pull it off, but Rat Queens made it seem effortless.
They didn’t just stick the landing, they destroyed the world with the perfection of their landing.
I’d recommend it to anyone who likes diverse, sex-positive, queer-friendly, and crude adventure stories. Hell, I’d recommend it even if that doesn’t seem like it’s up your alley. You’ve gotta try this.
Fucking flawless fantasy fiction.