Page 45 Review by Jodie Paterson
It started when the plants began to wilt, and was swiftly followed by the river turning black. Something unpleasant is happening in the Republic Of Ismyre and the government seems to be suffering from a bit of a blind spot. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. But then, they are rather preoccupied at the moment. A charismatic aristocrat has arrived in town with a marvellous new invention, and along with the endorsement of the utterly self-absorbed Lady Morwen, the powerful and wealthy have all gathered to witness the dazzling new product. Swilling champagne and cooing in awe, their greedy eyes are treated to a masterful display of magic like nothing they have ever seen before...
We're back in ISMYRE, but in this prequel we are taken beyond the confines of the city boundaries into the rolling hills of the countryside. Here we meet botanist Henriett and his dear friend Sybil, both quite distressed by the condition of the native plants, and mischievous young wizard Emlyn, who is somewhat perturbed by the sudden darkening of the river. What is certain is that all of them have reached the end of their tether with the government wilfully choosing to ignore the dwindling magic of the countryside.
A book as colourful as its cast of characters, Mure uses lashings of translucent layers of watercolour to create a vibrant world that positively glows throughout. With ever so subtle shifts in colour palette the story is given a real pacing, as we begin in a summer-coloured afternoon that transitions to glowing warm dusk, then we're subdued with sultry, cold blues and purples of the night, before finally being whisked back to life with a pastel-coloured sunrise. It's a brilliantly executed storytelling device that serves to highlight the sense of urgency felt by our anthropomorphised cast, as we see their story unfurl over just a few short, rebellious days.
A tale of defiance and of fighting the good fight. You'll be rooting for this unlikely gang of disruptors and be inspired by their determination.
"I'd rather live fighting than die having never tried"