A group of unlikely allies tries to escape from Limbo in Folk’s debut novel.
Welcome to the Seam, “a way station between life as you know it, and death.” The essences of people who are unconscious or comatose go there, and they may or may not be allowed to return to the world they knew. Nine-year-old Frank Frandoza is one of those essences trying to get back to the real world, where the last thing he remembers is the ceiling of his underground fort crashing down upon him. Imagine his surprise waking up in the Seam, with seven talking barracudas swimming around him in midair. He finds an ally in Ivan Blastov, a “cool kid” from his hometown who was recently felled in a brawl by a glass bottle to the head. Frank and Ivan must navigate the surreal, absurdist world of the Seam, populated with such entities as a gorilla in a nurse’s uniform and a polar bear in a leotard. Through an unlikely plan involving electrocution and the formation of a rock band, they manage to return to the real world. The only problems are the difficulties awaiting them there—and all the people still being detained in the Seam. Folk is a writer of unending imagination, spewing puns and ridiculous characters on page after page: “Lou was a human remora attached to a nose. If Lou had been a rock star, his name would have been Schnozzy Schnosbourne, and his stage would have been Nostrilpalooza.” The story is accompanied by full-color illustrations (also by Folk) that are somehow even odder than his literary creations—simultaneously creepy, silly, and brutally adorable. Readers may feel ungrateful for becoming frustrated with such ingenuity, but after a while, there’s simply too much: the plot can’t keep pace with Folk’s manic creations, and the supposedly life-and-death stakes never truly feel urgent. For all the tireless punning, readers may lose interest before the writer does.
An overly chaotic tale from a wondrous wordsmith.