The Flood That Did Come
By Patrick Wray. Published by Avery Hill
We live in a golden age of technology. Smart phones, smart houses. Automated systems that can order us a cab or warn us of a meteor strike. We also live in an age of disasters. Disastrous climate change which sets entire continents on fire and sets the Arctic Circle soaring into record temperatures. Global pandemics which humble us before nature, social turmoil as the dialectic between progress and reaction continues to dance its eternal dance. And floods. Never forget the floods.
Floods have quite the literary lineage. It might be argued that the story of human civilization wiped away by a great deluge is the original human story. Across cultures it appears again and again. The Epic of Gilgamesh, Noah’s Ark and a host of other stories told across the globe talk of the cleansing flood and the hero who saves the good and righteous.
The Flood That Did Come tells the story of the village of Pennyworth. The village was saved from a great deluge which has drowned the surrounding area. The people of the village, represented by two children Tom and Jenny are rather smug. They care about the misfortune of neighbouring villages which are underwater but is it really so bad, after all, they are fine.
I’ve always wanted to live by the sea. I’m going to set up some deckchairs in the garden.Tom
But when a boat arrives with two heralds of doom in the form of children Jim and Charlotte the safe life of the villagers of Pennyworth comes under threat. The children are from neighbouring town Brook Falls, a wealthier settlement now under water – and they call up an ancient charter that lays claim to Pennyworth.
This book has a very unique style, relying on illustrations created by vintage woodblock stamps throughout. The style is reminiscent of children’s books of the 1950’s or earlier – Ladybird books especially spring to mind. It also reminded me of graphics used by indie record labels like Postcard Records in the 1980s. Scrapbook shabby-chic for a world that never was.
The technique is very effective in evoking a sense of smug, suburban exceptionalism – an Enid Blyton dystopia. Little Englanders who think that pulling up the drawbridge can stop the rain falling, or war, poverty and refugees. The repetitive graphics conjure up the image of a conformist society that is at odds with the catastrophic events taking place around it.
The Flood That Did Come is an original and thoughtful book that shines a light on damp-cagoule worldviews, national myths and wall builders. Paddle out of mildewed monotony and net yourself a copy.
The Flood That Did Come by Patrick Wray
In shops 12th August (UK) / 9th September (USA)