Art and Myrtle Mumby live in Larklight, a house that orbits Earth beyond the moon, with their father, their mother having disappeared years earlier and thought dead in an aethership wreck, until one day, monstrous white spiders attack Larklight and send them scurrying. Can Art and Myrtle save their father, Larklight, and the entire British Empire?
First off, if I was thirteen, this would be my favorite book of all time. Larklight takes place in the 1850s, only it's an 1850's with Jules Verne-esque space travel and space is as it was thought in the Victorian era. The moon is covered with desert and giant mushrooms, Venus is a lush plant-world, and monstrous white spiders from Saturn's rings threaten to topple the British Empire of space. Interested yet?
Philip Reeve crafted one hell of an adventure tale here, fit for kids of all ages. The dry British wit kept the story going, even in the slower parts. I LOVE the world Reeve created for this book, from the pseudo-science of the aether ships to the hover hogs, pigs that thrive in zero gravity and get around by farting.
The characters are very much in the mold of those in Victorian literature: modest, prudish, and very dry. Except for Jack Havock and the space pirates, I mean. Also, Richard Burton, Warlord of Mars, is hardly prudish with his hot Martian wife.
Reeve draws from a lot of sources dear to my heart in Larklight, like Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells, and many others. I'm anxious to see what he draws from the well in the next two books. It also reminded me of other books, like Celestial Matters or Beyond the Moons. Steampunk fans also won't want to pass this up.
So what didn't I like? Not a lot, really. I found some of the twists to be predictable but that's owing to the fact I'm about double (or possibly triple) the target age for this. Like I said, if I was thirteen, I'd think it was the greatest book ever written. I'm giving it a four mostly out of sheer inventiveness and enjoyment level.