As a disclaimer, I went into To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts Volume 1 with absolutely no idea of what I was getting myself into. Which was perfect, as I would argue is the best way to get into a new story is simply by diving right in. That being said, reading this review will deprive you of that chance with the benefit being that you have some idea if it’s something you’d be interested in. So let me say this instead; if you enjoy dark fantasy with a focus on hunters of monsters (think Bloodborne), you’ll probably enjoy this series.
To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts takes place in a world that is recovering from a massive civil between two sides simply labled the North and the South. In the course of the war, the outnumbered Northerns found themselves at a disadvantage and thus in need of using alternative tactics to win the war. This led to the use of dark magical arts and the creation of super-soldiers that take on the forms of various monsters. These soldiers are known as “Incarnates”.
With the war won, the Incarnates returned home to find themselves heroes. This praise quickly faded and turned into fear of the Incarnates monstrous forms, leaving these soldiers in a society that no longer accepted them after they fought hard and gave up so much to preserve it. The only choice they are left with is finding a way to rejoin society, for if they lose control of themselves the only destiny they have left is being hunted down by Beast Hunters.
The story begins following Nancy Schall Bancroft, the daughter of John William Bancroft (an Incarnate soldier), that has been hunted down by a Beast Hunter. Nancy sets out to kill her father’s killer, a Beast Hunter named Hank. Through Hank, Nancy (and we as readers) quickly learns that many of the Incarnates have started to go mad and, while unfortunate, need to be put down for the sake of peace.
That last bit may sound basic but when you read the story it’s a lot heavier. We learn that Hank is an Incarnate, served as Sergeant of John Bancroft’s squad, and that his hunt for the Incarnates isn’t simply that of a mercenary getting paid to wipe out the old heroes of the country. Hank’s hunt of his former comrades is a sad, lonely, and conflicting hunt.
As far as character development goes, I was very satisfied with To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts Volume 1. The first volume of the series does a good job of subtly illustrating that Hank is not having the easiest time putting down his fellow veterans. I only had five chapters with the character and really felt for him by the end of the volume.
Nancy fills the role as a the moral compass and the naive character who learns about the world as the series goes on (and liaison for the reader in this way). This role can be limiting at times but I still found myself fond of Nancy and her unique traits by the volume’s end. Seriously, she’s hunting Hank with a goddamned revolver elephant gun and can make a hell of a cup of tea on the spot.
Within the first volume, each of the Incarntes feel unique and well built. My favorite was definitely Theo, the Minotaur that constructed fortress filled with loads of deadly traps. His chapters truly got me sucked into the story of the series and made me feel for both Hank and Nancy as characters. Still, I meant it when I said I liked them all.
The setting of the world is strong so far as well. It definitely feels like it could be the United States after the Civil War, though that’s obviously not specified. If I had one complaint, it’s that beyond the Civil War we didn’t learn much else about the world. Simply a few cities and one important railroad.
Overall, To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts Volume 1 is an excellent introduction to a new series. To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts shows promise in its setting, story, characters and style. In fact, it only took one volume for me to be a fan of each of those individual aspects of the series. With a lot of room to grow, I’m happy to say that I await with bated breath for look the future of To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts.
Publisher: Vertical Comics
Translation: Jason Moses
Production: Grace Lu, Anthony Quintessenza
Release Date: May 17, 2016
MSRP: $10.95 USD
Disclaimer: A copy of To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts Volume 1 was provided to BentoByte by the publisher for the purpose of review.Tweet