Reviews for 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


Booklist Reviews 2006 October #1
Arthur (Art) and Myrtle Mumby's space-fantasy adventure begins at Larklight, an ancient structure that orbits Earth. Attacked one day in 1851 by spiderlike creatures, they escape, only to be marooned on the moon, where they are captured by a moth and encased in jars containing voracious larvae. Freed by a band of extraterrestrial pirates led by young human Jack Havock, they fall into many wild adventures and encounter a mad scientist helping the spider creatures destroy life in the solar system. Robots, aliens, famous explorers, and hoverhogs also play a role in this rollicking heroic romp, which resonates with Victorian England's mores. Reflecting Victorian custom, chapter subheads are long and descriptive, with Wyatt's amazingly detailed illustrations furthering the effect. Both the story line and the language demonstrate Reeve's respect for his readership. Kids can look forward to more adventures, though narrator Arthur is off to "have a nice buttered muffin and a cup of tea" first. ((Reviewed October 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
Art and his prim sister live in an alternate nineteenth century in which Britain has colonized the solar system. When elephant-sized space-spiders attack their home, the siblings must stiff-upper-lip their way through the ensuing adventure. Capturing both the pathos and humor of every absurd situation, Reeve offers a genre-defying work that melds deadpan comedy, political satire, sci-fi epic, and pirate caper. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #6
Art Mumby and his prim older sister Myrtle reside with their father in the nineteenth-century British manor of Larklight, leading quiet, proper lives-except for one unexpected detail. In this alternate universe, Britain has colonized the solar system (and its often squishy, spiny, or rainbow-colored inhabitants) as well as the planet, and Larklight drifts through the "aether" of space. Then elephant-sized space-spiders attack, capturing Art and Myrtle's father, and the two escape to stiff-upper-lip their way through space thugs, rescue plans, and startling discoveries about why the spiders are after them. Abetting this madcap quest are teenage pirate Jack Havock and his motley crew of extraterrestrials. Reeve has a gift for conveying both the pathos and the humor of every predicament: as Art notes of a female crewmate, "It must be quite lonely enough to have hatched from a mysterious space egg and be the only creature of your kind in the known aether; how much lonelier to love someone of a different species, to whom you are just a blue lizard." Reeve (with the aid of expressive line drawings scattered throughout), details his surreal, appealing universe with verve and wit. A genre-defying work that melds deadpan comedy, anti-colonial political satire, sci-fi epic, and pirate caper with aplomb, this deliciously imaginative romp will more than satisfy fans of Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2006 September #2
The glory of Empire meets Star Trek in this space fantasy-picaresque that Edgar Rice Burroughs would have loved. Staunch British citizens Art Mumby and older sister Myrtle live in Larklight, a free-floating home just on the other side of the Moon. When giant white spiders invade and attack their father, the two escape, propelled into a series of adventures that bring them into contact with Jack Havock, teen pirate, his crew of xenomorphs upon the aether-ship Sophronia, Sir Richard Burton, agent of Her Majesty's Secret Service on Mars and Thunderhead, the vast intelligence that is the Red Spot of Jupiter. Reeve brilliantly creates a world where the environs of space are governed by credibly 19th-century assumptions: Interplanetary travel takes place in wooden vessels; the aether has enough oxygen for our dauntless characters to breathe; and a panoply of whimsical aliens populates the solar system. Art, the quintessential boy, narrates this rip-roaring adventure, allowing his very ladylike sister's diary to fill in the holes when they are separated, and the interplay between the two is priceless in itself. Jolly good fun, all around. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection - February 2007
This exciting adventure tale packs in so many storylines that it is not able to fully develop any of them. Aided by Jack, a young space pirate, and his mismatched band of aliens, Art successfully saves his family and home from the dreaded white spiders, which results in the ultimate salvation of the universe. This is a creative story, attempting to take the future of space travel into the 1800s, though the technology does not always seem to fit together. The earthly focus is on England, and Briticisms abound. The adventure and pirate elements of this story will appeal; however, the overall quality of the tale was somewhat disappointing. Additional Selection. Spencer Korson, Media Specialist, Bullock Creek High School & Middle School, Midland, Michigan © 2007 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 August #4

Reeve (the Hungry City Chronicles) evidently has a fascination with giant, mobile structures, but here he turns his considerable talent to a whimsical story of Victorian houses floating in space, a Jules Verne like concoction filtered through the sensibilities of Douglas Adams. Art and Myrtle live with their scientist father in a "shapeless, ramshackle, drafty, lonely sort of house" called Larklight. After fleeing an attack from space spiders, the siblings, adrift on a lifeboat, find themselves on the moon, then aboard the ship of legendary pirate Jack Havock. Readers travel a lot of very strange ground, from the Changeling Trees of Venus and their poisonous pollen, to the offices of the Royal Xenological Institute. Art and Jack discover that the spiders were in fact man's precursors in this universe, and the mad Dr. Ptarmigan is working to help the arachnids reclaim it. Larklight itself is a key piece of the puzzle, as is Art's mother, who was presumed dead and who turns out to be alive and much, much older than anyone suspected ("I was a Dinosaur for a while so invigorating!"). Reeve's humor is oh-so-British and utterly entertaining (the moon is "actually a bit of a dump"; Uranus has been renamed Georgium Sidum because "it provides less opportunity for cheap jokes"), and Wyatt's full-page pen-and-inks and spot illustrations enhance the sense of delight. The climax is an absolute hoot, and leaves the door wide open for any number of sequels. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)

[Page 54]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 August #2
This "whimsical story" about two siblings' adventure through the galaxy "is utterly entertaining.... The climax is an absolute hoot, and leaves the door wide open for any number of sequels," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2006 November

Gr 6-10 This wildly imaginative sci-fi pirate adventure has tongue-in-cheek humor and social commentary on accepting those who are different, among other things. Art Mumby and his sister, Myrtle, proud citizens of the British Empire, which in 1851 includes extraterrestrial territories, live with their father in Larklight, a rambling house that just happens to be traveling through outer space. The arrival of elephant-sized white spiders sets in motion an adventure that takes the quibbling siblings across the universe to battle the forces of evil. The spiders, the First Ones, want the key to Larklight in order to destroy the Empire and rule again. Art and Myrtle, thinking their father dead in the spiders' webs, escape their home, only to be rescued by the notorious space pirate Jack Havock. His ship sails the lunar sea with its crew, including Ssilissa, a human-sized blue lizard, and a gigantic land crab named Nipper. Art is the narrator, but when he and his sister are separated, readers are treated to Myrtle's prim and proper diary entries. With the help of Jack and his merry band, good triumphs, the family is reunited, and Myrtle and Jack begin a romance. Reeve's cinematic prose describes his fantastic universe while also conveying a Victorian sensibility. Whimsical, detailed black-and-white illustrations enhance the text. Readers will eagerly suspend disbelief; they will be riveted by the exciting plot's twists and turns as our heroes face death-defying adventures and narrow escapes, all at a frenetic pace. As Art would declare, Huzzah! Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

[Page 148]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2006 December
What if space and other planets had atmospheres and civilizations? What if the Victorian Empire extended to the moons of Jupiter, with sailing ships powered by alchemy? Myrtle and Arthur live in such a world on Larklight, a large, rambling old house that floats in earth's orbit. There they collect space fish for their father, who studies them, and generally lead a boring life. The arrival of Mr. Webster and a ship of spiders intent on stealing their house sends the siblings on a mad adventure that ranges from London to Saturn. They get help from pirates, strange creatures, explorer Richard Burton, and the great storm of Jupiter while they work to thwart the spiders' plans to take over the solar system and figure out what it is that makes Larklight so important Written like a nineteenth-century travelogue, the story features Art as narrator and commentator, occasionally inserting pages from Myrtle's diary, notes, and asides that further explain the world, and referring to Wyatt's wonderfully detailed etching-style illustrations. At times Art's voice is pretentious and annoying, with British pluck taken to the extreme. Reeve fills his characters with stereotypes of the Victorian era, including the attitudes toward non-Europeans as savages and heathens, pushing them to the point of absurdity. The characters grow up a lot, and the plot twists and turns tightly, with a few subtly foreshadowed surprises and plenty of adventure. This fun read will appeal mostly to fans of the steampunk genre.-Teresa Copeland 4Q 2P M J Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.

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