References to pop culture in Fever Crumb

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
fever crumb full book cover

Fever Crumb's puns and references 


If you've ever read a novel by Philip Reeve that's set in the realm of the Mortal Engines, you'll know he as quite the distinct writing style.

There's a wry humor that pervades his writing, it's a knowing joke about English culture and history the language and pop culture.

Which basically means a lot of dad jokes.

Reeve's kept up this approach with Fever Crumb, the first prequel to the wildly successful Mortal Engines book series.

Here's the cultural references Reeve made in Fever Crumb (that this Kiwi from the other side of the un-scorched Earth could figure out).

  • When Fever heads off to get the tram into London city, she needs to buy an oyster shell which signals to the tram operators that she has paid her fare. Real world Londoners will recognise this is a nod to the Oyster Card system which users pay their fares across London's transportation system.
  • The Mott and Hoople tavern run by the wicked Ted Swiney is a shout out to Mott the Hoople, a once popular English band whose signature song was All of the Dudes, a song they did with David Bowie (This author saw Bowie do it live one and it was amazeballs). 
  • The Tram conductor shouting the stop for Liver Pill Street is most probably making a nod to the city of Liverpool.
  • Fever stumbles across of worshipers chanting "Hari! Hari! Hari! Potter!" which is presumably a nod and play on words to the young wizard of  JK Rowling's novels. This would seem to be Reeve's first intentional nod to Harry Potter - the name Gideon Crumb (Fever's father) from The Goblet of Fire was a mere co-incidence.
  • 'Blog' or 'bloggers' is used as a form of swearing. 
  • One tram stop is called Celebrity Square - presumably this is a reference to the popular American television show.
  • "Cheesers Crice" - slang for Jesus Christ - referred to as being some 'some obscure cockney god'
  • We all know that paper boys deliver newspapers that give news about death. In Reeve's world, paper boys are literally walking paper devices in the shape of boys (or girls!) that bring death! 

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