At first glances, Rob Davis‘ latest graphic novel, The Motherless Oven, is too damn odd to be considered negatively, or even positively. However, further reading rewards a better understanding of this immensely strange and dark tale of teenage runaways – but does that make it a decent book in general? Lets find out.
To start with, the characters in the world of The Motherless Oven don’t have birthdays, they have deathdays instead, and schoolboy Scarper Lee’s deathday is catching him up. But Scarper’s deathday is the least of his worries, because his brass, spick-and-span-polished father (complete with wind-sails) has escaped from being chained up in Scarper’s backyard and has run away.
Oh, did I forget to mention? The children in The Motherless Oven make their own parents out of scrap metal. Yeah, I know, I pulled that face too.
The majority of The Motherless Oven sees Scarper, along with delinquent new girl Vera and the somewhat mentally deranged Castro, escape school, and their lives, to go searching for Scarper’s dad. That is, if they can escape the raining knives and Stour Provost. The more one reads The Motherless Oven, the more one takes it as a pik’n’mix of metaphors for teenagers learning to grow up, and how they either must accept their adult fate or escape into their own dreams of how they wish their lives to be lived.
The darkness of the story is brilliantly reflected in the watery, sketchy black and white artwork of the novel, which is surely the hight-point of this book. The story itself is told with a decent level of pace – its neither rushed or slow, and the trio’s adventures as they search for Scarper’s dad remain an entertaining source of viewing into this bizarre world.
Ultimately, I can only suggest that The Motherless Oven is deserving of as many readings as possible before one can reach a satisfactory conclusion. I’m still not sure of this book is bad or good, but it remains a thought-provoking, engaging and often thrilling read. You can’t really ask for more than that in a story.
The Motherless Oven is available now from SelfMadeHero – grab your copy here! And once you’ve read it, why not let us know what you thought of it in the comments section below or send us your thoughts on Twitter!