Larklight by Philip Reeve
Ill. by David Wyatt. Bloomsbury, 2006. ISBN: 9781526606617.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Larklight is a rip-roaring adventure science fiction book with a wonderful whimsical story and terrific characters, now a major motion picture. It is set in familiar Victorian times with the added dimension of the British Empire ruling some of the planets.
Larklight is a large dilapidated house that flies around in space in an orbit near the Moon. Art Mumby and his sister Myrtle live there with their scholarly father. One day Mr Webster, supposedly from the Royal Xenological Institute, visits and they discover to their consternation that he is an enormous white spider like creature, one of the First Ones, who captures their father and takes over Larklight. Art and Myrtle manage to escape in a lifeboat and are rescued by the pirate Jack Havock, who takes them aboard his ship The Sophronia. Many hair-raising adventures follow in their efforts to foil the First Ones and save the British Empire.
Wyatt's wonderful, funny and detailed drawings are a joy to look at and add to the enjoyment of the incredible creatures and objects that pervade the story. The book is one that booklovers will want to keep for its beautiful illustrations, (including a final one of the author and illustrator recording a new species of ogleweed), long involved chapter headings and humourous footnotes.
Apart from the breath taking adventures, readers will love the zany humour and references to Victorian customs and the weird beings that live in this world. Hoverhogs whiz around and clean up, winged ships, powered by a device called an Alchemical Wedding, flap their way through the aether and the Crystal Palace attacks London.
Readers can look forward to further adventures and lots of fun.