With Sword of My Mouth, Jim Munroe returns to the post-Rapture dystopia he introduced in 2007’s Therefore, Repent! Working with illustrator Shannon Gerard (who takes over from Salgood Sam for this instalment), Munroe has created another stunning, thought-provoking work that will linger in the reader’s mind.
Sword of My Mouth serves as a companion to the earlier work, rather than a true sequel. Set in Detroit an indeterminate time after the events of the earlier book, it follows Ella and her infant son. After their apartment burns down, Ella takes up with a small collective of urban farmers who are producing pesticide-free food and trying to avoid the attention of the army of angels that has come from heaven to do clean-up duty following the Rapture. But then Andre, Ella’s partner, returns home from Chicago, where he has been volunteering in the war against the angels, and Famine arrives in town with nefarious plans of his own.
Munroe’s unfettered imagination is given free rein here. Sword of My Mouth includes an angelic occupation of New York, magic and mutations, post-Rapture evangelicals (“Damn Rapture ate up half my flock. Don’t know whether to be flattered that it was so many, or offended that it was only half…”), and astral travel. However, Munroe grounds the work in identifiable human concerns: food, parenthood, companionship, loss, and community. The narrative is well served by Gerard’s deceptively simple artwork; there is much more to these black-and-white illustrations than initially meets the eye.
Which is true, in fact, of the book as a whole: Sword of My Mouth is a complex work masquerading as a relatively straightforward narrative (complete with a well handled twist ending).