“Larklight” – Space Pirates, Spiders and a Prim Victorian Teenager

Book Review : Larklight, A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in                                                                the Farthest Reaches of Space by Philip Reeve

Spoiler Alert!

Art Mumby has a very bothersome older sister, Myrtle, and they live with their father in a quirky house named Larklight which distantly orbits the earth. One day Larklight is invaded by huge white spiders who kidnap their father. Art and Myrtle manage to escape but, crash on the moon and are captured. Art and Myrtle are rescued by space pirates, led by the notorious Jack Havoc. As the children race through space with Jack they begin to suspect that the spiders may have a more sinister plan. Fearing for the great British Empire they race back to earth to save the world and stop those dastardly clever spiders.

Adult Point of View

Larklight is full of fun and rollicking humor paired with stuffy personalities of Victorian England. I found the novel to be engaging and incredibly creative. It seems that the author is referencing War of the Worlds when a large mechanical spider is attacking London, and I liked the connection to this science fiction classic. I particularly liked how Myrtle falls in love with Jack and retains her prim and proper attitude while Art is thoroughly disgusted.

It is also fun to imagine what would have happened if space travel had been discovered at an earlier date. Would Britain have tried to conquer all of space instead of just establishing holdings over the four corners of the earth? In this colonizing space adventure Art and Myrtle are loyal citizens, but come to question some of their held beliefs. The pirate, Jack, seems to be willing to come to the aid of Britain a bit too quickly, but it is only fiction.

There are also references to true historical personalities, such as, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Sir Isaac, Mr. Joseph Paxton (architect of the Crystal Palace) and more.

Reeve has used a rather cheeky writing style that works well for the intended audience and will perhaps give the adults more laughs than the kids in this strange, but wonderful, steampunk space adventure.

A few funny lines include:

The alien shipmates are, “bellowing out a lusty shanty called, `Farewell and Adieu to You Ladies of Ph’Arhpuu’xxtpllsprngg’.”

The title of chapter fourteen, “Another Dip into My Sister’s Diaries, Which May be Welcomed by Readers of a Sensitive Disposition as a Sort of Break or Breathing Space from My Own Almost Unbearably Exciting Adventures.”

Art says, “It seemed so unfair to have one’s father eaten by a spider and one’s sister devoured by a caterpillar on the same day (though I suppose flies must put up with that sort of thing all the time and you do not hear them moaning about it).”

Art says, “It is one thing to write of giant spiders and man-eating moths, but there are some sights too stomach-turning for even the bravest British boy to contemplate, and the soppy way Jack and my sister ran to cuddle and to kiss each other is one of ’em.”

Also to take note David Wyatt has created some wonderful illustrations that made everything by far more delightful.
Larklight is appropriate for children as well as teens.  I am guessing even some 10 year olds will enjoy this adventure even if they don’t understand everything that happens.

3.5 out of 5 stars

– the Mother

If you liked this book you might want to try Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. Another steampunk novel for an older audience is Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams.


About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow cooked in a tagine. Weekly I get together with friends and go to yoga for a bit of mommy time. Some may find me quirky, I prefer to think I am one of a kind.
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