Good satire sharpens our moral sense, kindles our outrage (or shame), and rouses a few good laughs but as a critique of Ukip and middle-class sangfroid, The Constant Rabbit lacks punch. Subtler and far more effective is his critique of “hominid supremacy” — humans’ inherent belief in their dominion over other species and their right to control, and ultimately destroy, the planet. In a line that lays Fforde’s device bare, the rabbits’ spiritual leader admonishes Peter: “You’re trashing the ecosystem for no reason other than a deluded sense of anthropocentric manifest destiny, and until you stop talking around the issue and actually feel some genuine guilt, there’ll be no change.”
In August 1965, the Spontaneous Anthropomorphising Event took place: rabbits, foxes, weasels and other animals were transformed overnight, gaining size and intelligence. Now more than a million rabbits are living in human society; the United Kingdom Anti-Rabbit Party is in power and advocating the rehousing of rabbits in a vast Mega-Warren in Wales. Single father Peter Knox works for the Rabbit Compliance Taskforce, policing their comings and goings. His life changes for ever when a family of rabbits moves next door to him in the sleepy village of Much Hemlock, and Knox is forced to confront his apathy in the face of the speciesism fuelled by the politician Nigel Smethwick and the Two Legs Good Party.