Writer/Artist: Rob Davis
Release Date: 10th October 2019
SelfMadeHero’s The Book of Forks sees Rob Davis bringing his eclectic trilogy full circle, promising to answer the myriad of questions that were raised by both The Can Opener’s Daughter and the British Comic Award-winning Motherless Oven.
It’s difficult to describe the world Davis has created here in simple terms, as it’s so completely different from our own. This is a world where children build their parents, and where everyone knows their death day from the moment they’re “born.” It’s a world which is split into different levels, with the upper ones inflicting totalitarian weather – such as laughing gales and knife rain – on the lower ones. It’s also a world where Gods find themselves trapped in everyday household objects like kettles and clocks.
As you can probably tell, there are some wildly surrealist themes and imagery here, but it never gets to the point where the narrative becomes too difficult to follow. There’s a real logic to everything Davis writes and draws here, and fact that story is built around three fairly relatable school children makes it all the more accessible, in spite of the unconventional concepts.
As with the first two books, the world Davis has created is wilfully unique, and packed with its own distinctive conventions, rules and social structures. It’s also unmistakeably British, and filled with oddly relatable character types – even if they do frequently happen to come in the form of inanimate household objects.
The story here is split into two separate threads, which gradually converge as the book progresses. The first sees Castro trapped in the mysterious “Power Station”, trying to discern whether the structure is a prison, a school or a hospital, and getting to know a girl named Poly while trying to figure out whether she’s part of the system or just someone else like him trying to figure out what’s going on.
The other thread sees Scarper and his definitely-not-girlfriend Vera trying to figure out where Castro is, and how to reach him, accompanied by Vera’s father, a can opener, who she carries in her pocket. To do this they need to navigate woods full of baby-faced bears, bands of God-wrecking scavengers and the mysterious Post Office.
What’s particularly helpful is that in addition to telling a compelling two-pronged story, Davis actually uses this book to try and answer almost every question that has been raised in the first two. Excerpts from Castro’s eponymous book – which he writes in order to try and make sense of the world at large – are interspersed throughout this one, providing informative, annotated snapshots of information about the history of the world (or, at least, the history as far as Castro understands it).
It should probably go without saying by now, but Davis does a typically stellar job with the artwork throughout, bringing his story to life in a striking black and white style. The designs are every bit as wildly inventive as the story itself, and there are some beautifully rendered pages along the way, both as part of the story and Castro’s book itself.
So, does The Book of Forks live up to its claim and answer all the questions raised in the first two books? Well… yes, sort of. There’s still a lot of ambiguity to certain concepts, but the way things wrap up here (along with Castro’s helpful narration and explanation along the way) ensures that this book becomes a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, rather than a head-scratching one.
More than anything else though, at the end of the day, The Book of Forks – and this entire trilogy, for that matter – is like nothing else on the shelves today, and should be considered absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to see just how creative dystopian fiction can be. Highest possible recommendation for this one, as with its two predecessors.
Details on how to order yourself a copy of the book, priced just £12.99, can be found on the SelfMadeHero Website (CLICK HERE)