Larklight; or, The Revenge of the White Spiders; or, To Saturn's Rings and Back: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space
As chronicl'd by Art Mumby, with the aid of Mr Philip Reeve and decorated throughout by Mr David Wyatt
MG fantasy. 400 pp.
It was just another normal morning in space when disaster struck. My sister Myrtle (who is quite irritating, as girls generally are) and I faced the most awful peril, and we hadn't even had breakfast. . . . This is the story of what happened next, and our Dreadful and Terrifying adventure to save each other and the known Universe.
I doubt there are words to describe how much I loved this book. So, so, so much love. Coworker and her husband bought this for me for my birthday. And then finally gave it to me this past weekend. I'm trying to decide if I should be upset at how long they withheld. Because, really, it's that entertaining.
Basically, the book takes place in Victorian England. However, it's a Victorian England wherein Sir Isaac Newton has discovered how to travel in space. So the Brits, true to form, have spread their empire and colonized the entire galaxy. ('Pish,' I told her. 'We do not rule Jupiter, only a handful of its satellites.') They live in an odd house—Larklight—that is in orbit around the moon. The adventure begins when they're expecting a visitor, who, upon his arrival, turns out to be a giant spider. ('Now come, Art,' Father chided, adjusting his spectacles to peer up at the beast as it came creeping towards us across the ceiling. 'It is hardly a spider. There is some superficial resemblance, to be sure, but you will observe it has at least twelve legs, whereas our earthly arachnidae have only eight . . .') And thus begins the adventure. And such a fun, fun adventure. With space pirates. And the British Royal Navy. And the Universe Expo's Crystal Palace.
What I find to be most enjoyable about this book is the voice. It is written with a Victorian sensibility that can only be achieved with a twenty-first century enjoyment of the currently perceived absurdity of the Victorian voice. ("I felt a little like saying 'Eeeeeeeeek!' myself, but seeing Myrtle so afraid reminded me that I was British, and must be brave.") This carries through from narrative voice through chapter titles to even the subtitles of the book itself. The characters are also very likable and fun to spend time with. And they're not the cause of the problems. I really like that in a character.
After I had gotten about halfway through the book, I had decided I was going to give this book to the Boy and go purchase a hard cover copy for myself, because I knew I'd be buying the second book and heaven forbid my books in a series don't have matching binding. But then I got to Devil's Den today and discovered that the second book is being released in paperback next month. So I changed my mind. But then I discovered that the third book is coming out in October. So I'm going to get them all in hardcover. Because I'm not waiting a year for the third one to be released in paperback; I'm not particularly known for my patience.
Abby (the) Librarian
Becky's Book Reviews