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(Larklight #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  5,416 ratings  ·  547 reviews
Arthur (Art) Mumby and his irritating sister Myrtle live with their father in the huge and rambling house, Larklight, travelling through space on a remote orbit far beyond the Moon. One ordinary sort of morning they receive a correspondence informing them that a gentleman is on his way to visit, a Mr Webster. Visitors to Larklight are rare if not unique, and a frenzy of pr ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,416 ratings  ·  547 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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-esqu
Oct 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kathryn by: Quasar (thank you SO much!)
2 March 2008

Huzzah! What a glorious tale. I loved it! Certainly one of my new-favorite books; besides being oodles of fun to read, it was thoughtful, imaginative, charming, adventurous, surprisingly well written with delightful illustrations. I would never have believed that a Victorian outer-space adventure with aether-ship pirates, giant talking spiders, plots against the Empire (oh no! God Save the Queen!) and hoverhogs could fit together so perfectly, conveyed by the pen of a brave British
I honestly think this is one of my new favorite books! Absolutely wonderful! Funny, creative, cute, charming, endearing, fast-paced, and sweet!
Delightful characters fill the book from cover to cover. The plot is both intriguing and pretty complex without being too confusing or obvious. The illustrations add to story and seem very fitting to the style of writing.
The book is filled with wit and heart. I adored it!
So, I already love it! Just about 100 pages into it, and it's delightful! The char
Sep 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mary, Elizabeth, Adam, Marsha. Steampunk fans, anyone wanting an easy (but not dumb) YA title
Shelves: steampunk, own, juvenile
It's the steampunkiest!
This book was so much fun. Literally my only complaint is a few things at the end seemed wrapped up a little improbably. But wait... this is a Victorian Space Drama! Who am I to question what's probable? Hah. Anyway, the narrator is a delightful little opinionated boy, and the plot moves along at a quite a clip, propelled by the chemical wedding in the aether engines, no doubt. I would totally recommend this to anybody, it's quick and fun. Definitely giggled outloud a bunc
Kaethe Douglas
Fun for the whole family. No, really.


2009 June 8

I love the steampunk, I love the silliness of the hover hogs, and the swashbuckling and all the rest, dearly.

A rousing tale it was. I'd forgotten how much pluck Myrtle gets to show, hurling herself at the Queen. Well done!
Zen Cho
Sep 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, victorian, kidslit
So much fun! There isn't any other word for the book: just, fun. I'd pretty much recommend this without any qualifications.

More light-hearted than the Hungry Cities Chronicles. I'm not sure if it's better. I think I like it better, though I don't love any of the characters as much as I loved Hester, because I was really quite annoyed by the way the books ended -- I couldn't have told you what should have happened, but what did happen felt like a cop-out. I suppose I might get as annoyed over La
Feb 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
Ugh. That turned into quite the chore to read. The only thing that piqued my interest was the hoverhogs, which are floating pig-like creatures that clean up rubbish. That was it.

I think the general idea of this book had a lot of potential, but only if everything was different. Haha! But seriously -- I would've preferred reading about older kids and leaving the parents out of the picture completely. I basically wanted the entire book to be more mature.

My biggest beef with this book? Censorship.
Oct 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: children, sci-fi
A lot of fun - and I really liked the cheeky references to classic sci-fi, especially H.G Wells!
Jun 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Renay by: honestly mem
Shelves: 2015, 2009, 2007
2016 02 23:
Still as adorable as I remember!!!!

2007 01 01:
I wish I knew how to get people to read this book. This book is fabulous. It's very much speculative fiction, told in a Victorian style, a what-if romp through what might have happened if space had been like people of the 19th century had imagined and the British took their colonization ideals out into the far reaches of the solar system. It is amazing and creative and so full of imagination I am not quite sure how all the fantastic elemen
Nov 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm normally a huge lover of books directed at kids but this one just didn't blow me away and I can't pinpoint why.

It's steampunk and directed towards kids in the 10 year age group (I'm guessing). The science is so completely wrong that it's obviously written that way. I assume because the story is set a century or so ago and knowledge of space would have been very wrong at best, even though space travel is commonplace in this story. For example, space is not a vacuum as we know it - it's aethe
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Aptly subtitled "A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space," this is an enjoyable read for ages nine (or thereabouts) and up.
It is an adventure set in a Victorian space age, written as Jules Verne or H.G. Wells might have imagined it. The plot is exciting, the writing deft and witty, so that adults are likely to enjoy the reading experience just as much as kids. There's some fun and interesting playing with gender conventions, too, as the narrator's older sister yearns
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic book. I laughed, I cried, I wet my pants. Well, the pants wetting part isn't true. And neither is the crying. But I did laugh quite a bit while reading this book.

Before I was even halfway through the book, I found myself trying to convince friends to read it by telling them, "It's kind of like Scott Westerfield's Leviathan series meets L.A. Meyer's Bloody Jack series mixed in with the television show Firefly."

No. I am completely serious. And IT. WAS. AWESOME. And funny. Did
Sarah Churchill
Feb 15, 2014 rated it liked it
In all honesty, I struggled with this book.

It's beautifully presented, well written and filled with fantastic illustrations that support the story perfectly. There's steampunk in outer-space. And pirates. All of these things should make it an incredible read. But for some reason I was bored.

I struggled to read more than a couple of chapters at a time. Maybe it's because I didn't particularly like any of the characters (Myrtle in particular needed a good slap, although to be fair she did get bet
Oct 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This book was a really neat one, a sort of Victorian-era sci-fi. That is, it was set in the 1800s, but in this version of the 1800s, Earth had space travel capabilities, Mars is populated by Martians, and it is far from uncommon to meet alien races.
There were lots of neat characters, space pirates, exciting adventures, and exotic, otherworldly locales, and I loved the semi-Victorian writing style! All in all, I thought it was a very imaginative, clever book. The inside back cover says the autho
Nice story, wonderful illustrations and I loved the various hints to pop culture: Dune, Star Trek, Spiderman, Dracula...
Don't you want to try and find them yourself now? ;-)
Kailey (Luminous Libro)
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
Arthur and his sister Myrtle live in a space home in an outer orbit of the Moon, and they find it very boring. Nothing ever happens in such a remote area of space, and they long to travel to Earth, or see the colonies on Mars, or visit the exciting moons of Jupiter. One day their home is visited by a mysterious stranger named Mr. Webster, and they are thrown into an adventure that takes them across the solar system with pirates, ancient civilizations, and alien spies.

I loved everything about thi
Feb 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade

Another good book for young readers that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys 19th century English culture and imaginative space adventures, for this book blends the two quite admirably. Set in an alternate past in which Newton's discoveries led not only to the advancement of physics and math, but allowed a steam-powered generation of enterprising Englishmen to launch themselves into the depths of space, Larklight follows the adventures of a young (11 year old) Arthur Mumby and his slig
Middle-grade crowd should enjoy this space adventure about Art and his sister Myrtle. It has it all, aliens, pirates, adventure, the strange and wondrous.
May 17, 2013 rated it liked it
As part of my "go back in time and read happy nostalgic books" project, I picked up this wonderful Juvenile fiction novel. As with Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (you can read my review here,) I found myself captured by the simplicity, craziness,and childish charm of this book. Simply put, if I'd read it a few years ago, I would have loved it.

As far as it goes now... I liked it quite a bit, but I was missing depth and more intricate characters. Even though it wasn't amazing, this book was very good. Some reasons why:

Larklight takes many historical notions about space and runs with them. Instead of vacuum we have aether - a breathable if thin atmosphere between planets. The moon is populated by mushrooms, Mars by rust-coloured elves, and the great storm of Jupiter is a thinking being. Colonies are firmly established on Mars, the Moon and (once) Venus, and interplanetary travel a matter of alchemic engines.

There is endless amount of adventure in this middle-grade story, told by Art, and with excerpts from his
Jennifer Wardrip
May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Reviewed by Lynn Crow for

When eleven-year-old Art Mumby finds out that a visitor is arriving at his run-down home, Larklight, which floats in space beyond the moon, he hardly expects to be thrust into a frightening adventure of pirates, plates, and a millenium-long conflict upon which the fate of the solar system rests. He tells the story of this adventure in LARKLIGHT (occasionally giving his older sister, Myrtle, a chance to narrate via her diary), and the story is nothing if
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

A steampunkish space adventure based on the old Victorian adventure stories, complete with huzzahs! to the glorious Empire - but also those against the Empire and characters pointing out how not so glorious it is to come about and muck with people quite happy on their own, thanks much.

It's hard to really say whether this is sci-fi or fantasy. One would expect sci-fi since there are aliens and space adventures; however, there's nothing remotely realistic about the science, what with people ru
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There is a lot to like about Larklight. It has the form of Victorian scientific romance and the stylistic flair of postmodern irony. The touch of absurdity is, dare I say, Lovecraftian, and yet beneath all the nonsensical madness, there is the honest desire for a better past, a better present, and a better future. To be fair, I don't think Reeve intended it to be a story about how things could be better, but you have to admit, writing about a different past reveals more than listlessness but a s ...more
I must have read this series a dozen or more times. Utterly captivating and imaginative. Admittedly, Reeve's casual use of the imperial adventure tropes made popular by H. Rider Haggard and Rudyard Kipling is troubling. For an adult reader, it is easy to attribute a layer of irony to Art's blind patriotism but I suspect that those lines are more easily blurred for the target audience. However, it is true that foregrounding such tropes does make them easy to discuss and easier to debunk, unlike t ...more
Rusty's Ghost Engine (also known as.......... Jinky Spring)
Other than that piece of shit known as The Maestro this book holds the honor of being amongst the first few books I've given up on since I was 9.

Firstly the plot was highly far fetched and rather stupid and infuriating to be quite honest. Ditto the characters. From the first page I found it extremely difficult to connect with ANYTHING in this sad piece of work some refer to as a story. I give this nil stars because (well first of all I didn't enjoy it one bit) the author marketed this as a midd
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok not sure what happened there - lost my original review - right where to start.
How best to describe this book and indeed the series (there are two more to follow) - i think beginners steampunk is a good place to start - i think what appeals to me is that Philip Reeve - is able to take a conventional story and weave a fantastical setting around it (look at the Hungry city series and you will know what i mean) and by doing so he has created something amazing and the totally bizarre and impossib
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Normally I reserve 5 stars for books that make me think or speak to me on a deep level, but this one was simply pure whizz-bang fun from beginning to end. And unlike some other children's books I've read recently (I'm looking at you, _House of Power_!), the prose, the plotting, and the character development lived up to the gosh-wow premise. And also, who wouldn't love a book with a subtitle like "a tale of dauntless pluck in the farthest reaches of space"?

I've already started the sequel, _Starcr
Jan 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I loved the steampunk aspects of this book. As it is the only steampunk novel I've read (so far), I really have nothing to compare it to, but Victorian space travel is very appealing. Some parts seemed a bit detached, though that may have been because the first person narrative only gave one viewpoint. Other than that, it was a delightful, fun and exciting book, and certainly a good introduction to steampunk! ...more
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Much more light-hearted than Reeves's Hungry City books. Like, by a lot. I loved the Victorian adventure story feel of the thing. The world building is fairly well done, and it's a very different version of space and space travel. Myrtle could get on my nerves sometimes, but she seemed to be improving by the end of the book, and I think there's hope for her character. I'm interested to see where this is going, because I generally have a lot of faith in Reeves. ...more
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is captivating tale of adventure of space pirates, giant spiders and mysterious beings. The book kept me on the edge if my seat and I'm looking forward to reading the other books in the trilogy. ...more
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Philip Reeve was born and raised in Brighton, where he worked in a bookshop for a number of years while also co-writing, producing and directing a number of no-budget theatre projects.

Philip then began illustrating and has since provided cartoons for around forty children's books, including the best-selling Horrible Histories, Murderous Maths and Dead Famous series.

Railhead, published by Oxford Un

Other books in the series

Larklight (3 books)
  • Starcross (Larklight, #2)
  • Mothstorm (Larklight, #3)

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  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
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“I felt a little like saying 'Eeeeeeeeek!' myself, but seeing Myrtle so afraid reminded me that I was British, and must be brave.” 7 likes
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