Heart of Millyera: Prelude
Written by Jess Cate
Art by Jana Hoffman
Review by Shaneyah Galley
The ocean has fascinated humanity for centuries.
The source of much art and scientific exploration, Heart of Millyera: Prelude promises to be a story of magic, adventure, and heartbreak. It takes place in an alternate, steampunk version of Australia, which is simply known as ‘the Colonies’.
In this prelude we meet a trio of explorers: Ida, Gil and Celeste. The book begins with an ominous castle, during a storm. Gil is pleading with Ida over the radio, but she has already made up her mind. She fires a single shot at a green-haired figure – and the result is explosive. Ida drops her lantern and an enormous tentacle batters down a door, sending pieces of stonework flying. The mystery of Ida’s choice is something readers will have to get used to, since the book moves us back in time to examine how the story began, six months ago.
Ida, Gil and Celeste are on the beach of a lake, about to dive and investigate the remnants of an early settler town, which flooded approximately thirty years ago. Compared to the gloom of the mansion, the beach is bright and sun-soaked, making the water look inviting. Ida is full of excitement about what they might find down there. Gil, as usual, is cynical and Celeste is quietly grateful that she herself isn’t donning one of the heavy copper-coloured diving contraptions.
Inside the lake, the water is a dark, dappled teal. The ruins of the village are surprisingly intact. Their dive, however, is cut short when Ida pulls the alarm. Celeste quickly pulls her friends to safety. Ida is insistent that she saw a girl in the water, one who wasn’t wearing a suit. The logical conclusion is that either she saw a gruesomely preserved body, or the air supply wasn’t quite right and consequently, Ida is hallucinating. Sure that she did see something, the trio appeal to the local constabulary for assistance. This is where things begin to get very complicated!
If you enjoy mythology, want to read more Australian stories, or are a fan of steampunk, then I recommend spending some time with this wonderful story. Heart of Millyera is an adventure worth embarking on. You can get a copy of the prelude, or continue reading, at their website: