The Book Of Forks (book 3) by Rob Davis (book review).

October 10, 2019 | By | Reply More

‘The Book Of Forks’ is part three of a graphic novel trilogy, following on from ‘The Motherless Oven’ and ‘The Can Opener’s Daughter’. This particular graphic novel takes its title from ‘The Book Of Forks’, a volume in the story being written by Castro Smith to explain the history of his world.

The first thing to say is that this series is brilliant. It’s a classic of science fantasy that ought to rank with ‘Lord Of The Rings’, ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ and Farmer’s ‘Riverworld’ saga. Every review should have five stars blazing gloriously. I liked ‘The Can Opener’s Daughter’ but sort of went along for the ride in the hope that it would all make sense one day. Happily, it does now. The two books of ‘Forks’ by author Rob Davis and Castro his character make everything clear.

Gnot. That’s the key. Gnot is a superbly malleable material to which consciousness can be attached which explains the infinite variety of forms parents can take and why you can be a can-opener’s daughter, though in fact, children build their parents in ‘The Motherless Oven’, obviously.

The story is a quest. Following on from their adventures in the previous two books, teenagers Vera and Scarper are looking for their good friend, Castro Smith. Vera carries her can-opener dad in her pocket. Their journey takes them through various sections of the world, most of them dangerous. The Bear Park, for example, is subject to rains of knives from Grave Acre above it.

The Black Wood is full of large, dangerous, baby-faced bears. They have to sail Scarper’s dad, he’s a boat, across a sea of whales to get to the mainland. The Post Office is, of course, a vital connection between these various states and will ultimately be responsible for getting Castro’s book to the Printers. The development of these states and institutions is all explained in pages from Castro’s ‘Book Of Forks’.

Castro, meanwhile, is on a quest of his own, a quest for knowledge. He’s imprisoned within the mysterious Power Station, a huge building of at least two hundred floors where no one can understand a word he says and he can’t understand them. Everyone has their own room and meals are eaten communally. Castro’s room has a symbol on it and the symbol also appears, along with a different one, at a meeting room where he encounters a young lady. Eventually, he finds a way to talk to her.

Castro is working hard to finish his ‘Book Of Forks’ which tells the history of the world. Pages from it are interspersed through the narrative and they are informative and entertaining. In a convoluted and choppy fashion, full of footnotes, they fill in the background to this crazy setting. Some philosophical conundrums that led to the actions of major players are also explored such as the ancient bus god dilemma proposed by the Greek philosopher Nektarios in the manual for public service gods.

The characters are well-drawn, in both senses. Scarper is a likeable young fellow, somewhat given to complaining but his circumstances are difficult. Vera is more enigmatic and seems to take things in her stride, even the worst parental trauma imaginable. The art is black and white, standard comicbook cartoon format with rectangular panels and clear storytelling, stylish but not too stylish. The many one page extracts from Castro’s ‘Book Of Forks’ are mostly text but interspersed with illustrations.

‘The Book Of Forks’ by Rob Davis should be taken to award ceremonies and showered with them. Readers really should buy ‘The Motherless Oven’ and ‘The Can Opener’s Daughter’ first to make this experience complete, not to mention comprehensible. I fear starting with this volume will only cause frustration and confusion even greater than the frustration and confusion of reading a review of it. I’m sorry. There’s just so much here and it’s so different and original that any kind of summary is impossible.

How about, a great quest story set in a strange, original, mad world that has plenty of food for thought along with humour, tragedy and pathos. That’ll do.

It occurs to me that something this wacky, far out, surreal and well… English might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Try it anyway. Honestly, it’s brilliant.

Eamonn Murphy

October 2019

(pub: SelfMadeHero, 2019. 200 page graphic novel. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-91059-373-8)

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Category: Comics

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About EamonnMurphy

Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction, fantasy, horror and graphic novel reviewer who writes a bit too. Many of his books are currently free (but not on Amazon).
See website for details.

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