The Motherless Oven

The Motherless Oven

Graphic Novel - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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 following sail. His mother is a Bakelite hairdryer. In this world, it rains knives and household appliances have souls. There are no birthdays--only deathdays. Scarper knows he has just three weeks to live. As his deathday approaches, he is forced from his routine and strikes out into the unknown--where friendships are tested and authority challenged."
Publisher: London : SelfMadeHero, 2014
ISBN: 9781906838812
Characteristics: 153 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
m__c May 10, 2019

Definitely bizarre and difficult to grasp. About a third of the way in, I got a feel for it and ended up liking it quite a lot. This is one of the most interesting and unique graphic novels I've read so far. It's a dystopian type of world, with a dark and somewhat menacing tone. You're plunged into this world where parents are made of appliances by their children, where the weather can be deadly, and everyone has a "death day." Not much explanation is given upfront, which makes it difficult to understand at first. And honestly, there's a lot left unanswered by the end, too. With that being said, I'd still recommend it.

ReadingAdviser_leni Oct 30, 2018

Very odd. I found it difficult to get into as I was unable to figure out the story at all. I did not end up finishing it.

KickyMcGee Apr 26, 2018

First off: This book is seriously weird! At first it will feel like reading an alien language, but by the end it's so very worth the effort! Like it says on the back, it's a coming of age and facing dead story, but it's so much more.

Mar 23, 2017

One of the most surreal, imaginative graphic novels I've read ~ excellent!

Oct 02, 2016

This is possibly the strangest comic I've ever read and liked. I'm not sure how to describe it without giving things away. The narrative begins with this sentence: "The weather clock said 'Knife O'Clock' so I chained Dad up in the shed." Scarper Lee, a teenager, is the "I" in that sentence. Chaining up his father is actually a good thing to do, since in Lee's world, the weather can kill you. So can many other things. It's a bleak world, with a seemingly authoritarian government of some kind, but everyone seems to just accept how things are. But when Vera Pike enrolls at his school, his world changes. New friends mean new ideas, and the possibility of a change in his destiny, if he's willing to try.

I really don't know what more to say without spoiling. The art is dark and brooding, like Scarper's own personality, and it doesn't change, because this is not a happy book. If you're down already, don't read it. But it's a unique, amazing little world with a trio of fascinating characters - Scarper, Vera, and their new friend Castro Smith, one of the few POC characters with a disability that I've ever seen in comics.

The second book, The Can Opener's Daughter, centers Vera, and I enjoyed it just as much. We get more revelations about the world, and I'm so hopeful for a third book because I want to know more.

Sep 05, 2015

A gothic fantasy story suitable for adolescents. And not even an entire story, but only the first part.

JCLChrisK Aug 14, 2015

"The weather clock said, 'Knife o'clock.' So I chained Dad up in the shed." So begins The Motherless Oven.

On its surface this is an intentionally opaque story, with a world so drastically different than ours that it's impossible to not feel unmoored as you read it. In this world it rains knives and the gales blow laughter, parents are mechanistic beings created by their children, devices and gadgets are talking, singing "gods," school subjects include circular history, mythmatics, shrine mechanics, and god science, and so much more that is utterly alien, all presented as normal and matter of fact without explanation. Often it's hard to know just what the characters are talking about. A contemplative reader might try to step outside of the work to see its constructions as metaphors and analogies, but that is a vague and perplexing task with elusive results. Even the characters don't really seem to understand their world much of the time.

And that's where The Motherless Oven works so brilliantly. I may not have understood the facts of the story, but I clearly felt the emotions. The characters are teenagers trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into things, feeling unmoored about most things themselves. On top of that, the protagonist knows he's going to die in three weeks (known deathdays are another of the book's quirks). The world is a strange and confusing place, and Scarper Lee can't make any sense of it or the point of his existence. So part of my experience reading the book was feeling adrift as I meandered with the characters through its confusing landscapes, but the greater experience was feeling enthralled by Scarper's anxieties and compelled to reach his story's bleak yet open ending (I was glad to learn through a bit of research the author has planned a trilogy). Though foreign, it's amazingly effective at capturing and conveying Scarper's teen angst.

I'm not always a fan of black-and-white art for comics and graphic novels, as often it feels a monetary necessity more than an artistic decision, but this time it's perfect. This is a wonderfully drawn story.

Jul 17, 2015

I felt like I was not smart enough to fully grasp the intricacies of this strange and creative graphic novel but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

May 13, 2015

I loved this graphic so much I started to read it again when I finished. Very funny, very bizarre, and very romantic (in a deathly kind of way). The story is set in an alternative universe where parents are made by their children out of household appliances, it rains knives from the sky, and teenagers know their death date. We follow our main character, introvert Scarper Lee whose death date is fast approaching, as he gets yanked out of his shell by the new girl in school, Vera Pike, and her friend, the stuttering but brilliant Castro Smith. The three teens embark on a mission “in search of the motherless oven where all the mums and dads are baked by the children of the world…”. Yes.
Dark, bizarre, and delightful! Supercool illustrations and characters.

multcolib_karene Dec 16, 2014

A surreal ride of a graphic novel!


Add a Quote
Laura_X Jul 12, 2015

Truants like you should understand art. The way to free y'rself from any system of control is to do something useless. But do it as well as you can!


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at CALS

To Top