The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
Publication: October 21st 2014 by SelfMadeHero
Format: Paperback Pages: 160
‘In Scarper Lee’s world, parents don’t make children—children make parents. Scarper’s father is his pride and joy, a wind-powered brass construction with a billowing sail. His mother is a Bakelite hairdryer. In this world it rains knives, and household appliances have souls. There are also no birthdays—only deathdays. Scarper’s deathday is just three weeks away, and he clings to the mundane repetition of his life at home and high school for comfort. Rob Davis’s dark graphic novel is an odyssey through a bizarre, distorted teenage landscape. When Scarper’s father mysteriously disappears, he sets off with Vera Pike (the new girl at school) and Castro Smith (the weirdest kid in town) to find him. Facing home truths and knife storms at every turn, will Scarper even survive until his deathday?’ – Goodreads.
Here’s a story I’m never going to forget. Honestly, The Motherless Oven was both the most bizarre yet oddly satisfying stories I’ve read this year. I don’t know what to fawn over more, the illustrations or the fact that despite being such a weird read, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.
If it’s not obvious by now, I really enjoyed reading The Motherless Oven. I did, however, struggle to come to that conclusion. The Motherless Oven is a strange story where, as the blurb indicates, children make their parents. I say ‘make’ because the parents in this graphic novel vary from being a hairdryer mum to a dad that’s a ship or something (they do talk). Appliances like egg timers have souls and are called gods, everyone knows when they are going to die, and it rains knives. If that’s not ‘crazy town’ enough, the characters are obsessed with the weather, they watch spinning wheels, and the police force is made up of elderly people who do some freaky things to the ‘criminals’ they catch. I believe this is what taking LSD feels like.
I just kept saying, “What did I just read?” after every couple of pages. I only decided that I must have liked this graphic novel because I want to read the next one now. But I still can’t figure out what I read!
The characters and illustrations are dark, broody and bloody brilliant. Scarper Lee (the protagonist) is nearing his ‘deathday’, and there’s a new, mysterious girl called Vera Pike in town.
Scarper starts off as a lifeless character who doesn’t do much and doesn’t seem to want to do much either. He doesn’t like leaving his house and doesn’t like having people over. In sharp contrast, Vera is mean but spirited; she’s kind of friend Scarper appears to need. Scarper and Vera are joined by Castro, a fellow schoolmate, to embark on an adventure to find the Motherless Oven and Scarper’s dad, who has gone missing. I definitely liked Vera and Castro but felt like Scarper was a bit of a bore.
The Motherless Oven is a tricky one to recommend as it is quite a confusing and odd read. I would suggest giving it a shot if my review and attached images make it sound like something you might enjoy.