Review: Terrible Means (Avery Hill Publishing)

Terrible Means is the follow up to Ismyre, one of our favourite Avery Hill books of 2017 from B. Mure. While it is more of a prequel/parallel tale than a direct sequel it does a fantastic job of build more depth and layers into the curious and quirky mythology of this wonderfully weird watercolour world.

Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing
Writer: B. Mure
Artist: B. Mure
Price: £8.99 from Avery Hill Publishing Big Cartel

Henriett is a disgraced scientist who is returning to the capital city of Ismyre in order to talk to the government about a potentially dangerous environmental epidemic which she has noticed near here home. Meanwhile, Emlyn is an idealistic young rabbit whose home has been similarly affected, yet he prefers more direct action. When the two worlds collide they end up on the run, but ultimately resolve their problems together and help sow the seeds for actions that will take place in the later Ismyre books. But not before they encounter the dark underbelly of the city’s corrupt government and it’s wealthy party set.

All that is a very brief glimpse into the glorious subtleties that B. Mure instils into every page of Terrible Means. The world of Ismyre is a glorious one, filled with doomed scientists, frustrated government bureaucrats and frustrated magicians. Every character is packed full of quirks and foibles, neuroses and nuances that makes them so much more interesting that your average cookie cutter hero and the world they habit is intensely intellectually curated to perfection. This kind of fussy world, it often helps that the cast are are animals, and the world of Ismyre is one built on magic and so when all this is combined it create a truly unique and wonderful read that manages to balance mainstream indie readability with small press smarts and cool to create a really one of a kind read.

Terrible Means and the world of Ismyre

The story builds slowly and surely, but really erupts when it needs to and creates a really compelling read along the way. It has moments which require a bit of careful consideration, and sometimes a couple of reads to truly get to grips with, but it is definitely worth giving your time and brain space to. After all, where else could you read about an eco-terrorist wizard rabbit who explodes plants into buildings, or a power hungry dog who uses magical crystals to wow party guests?!

B’s artwork has no small part in making Terrible Means into what it is. The mix of scratchy pen and ink line work with lush watercolour washes that create unconventional rainbows of colour on every page. The unorthodox colour combinations  make every page looks as magical as the action on the page. At times the rawness of some of these pages can cause the book to feel a bit chaotic (especially with the hand drawn lettering which is quite ragged in places), but it is one of those books where you have to forgive the minor quibbles over things not being quite precise, as to tidy them up would be to remove part of the heart and soul of the book.

While Terrible Means may not quite have the freshness of the first Ismyre book, that is perhaps a reflection on how unique that first volume was. Both are definitely well worth checking out and B. is a worthy member of the Avery Hill roster. In fact, Ismyre feels like one of those series which has the potential to build and build and before you know it, we’ll be looking at something very special and unique indeed! Certainly the way that Terrible Means plants seeds for Ismyre, but without fully exploring them, makes us want to re-read both as soon as we can, not to mention pick up any and all future volumes to find out just what is going on in this remarkably constructed and magical world.