Disciples of the Soil

Avery Hill. (Ismyre, Bk. 5). Jul. 2024. 88p. ISBN 9781910395790. pap. $12.95. FANTASY
Creator Mure’s latest volume (after Terrible Means) about the lives of anthropomorphic characters living in the fantastical city of Ismyre opens with the world in upheaval against a move toward industrialization. Furious at being forced to work tirelessly in dangerous conditions, miners in the South Republic of Ismyre are on strike; in the city, protestors swarm the grand-opening ceremony of a new rail station, demanding explanations as to why the Ismyre spent so much money on a railway system when the people are suffering, and how exactly a train with spindly, spiderlike legs is supposed to travel on rails. When the prime minister’s attempt to undermine the crowd with an act of political theater further escalates tensions, Ismyre is pushed to the edge of anarchy. Meanwhile, members of the Church of Our Lady Who Slumbers Under the Earth prepare for the awakening of their snakelike deity, which will usher in a new age—but for better, or for worse?
VERDICT Mure’s watercolor and pencil illustration brings this fantasy steeped in real-world political issues to life so vividly that readers might find themselves worrying the characters will pop up off the page and scurry away.
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