After thoroughly enjoying Larklight, I immediately requested the next book from the library and made a suggestion to buy the third, since it wasn’t yet in their catalogue. Happily, they took up my suggestion (so far, I think they’ve bought nearly everything I’ve suggested) so I have now read Starcoss and have the third volume, Mothstorm sitting on the shelf in the bedroom, waiting for me to get to it.
In this adventure, Art, Myrtle and their mother leave Larklight while it is getting a top to bottom (or, as Art points out, top to top, since it has no particular up or down) refit. They are invited to visit Starcross, a new holiday resort in the asteroid belt. There, they discover Jack Havoc undercover, mysterious goings on, time travel, sea bathing and nefarious top hats. Soon, Art (and Myrtle of course) are fighting another threatening invasion, rescuing friends and family and, naturally, saving the great British Solar Empire.
This was another light, fun, and slightly crazy adventure. Art’s narration remains a lot of fun, Cross’s steampunk-y world is still full of clever and sometimes sly ideas and the illustrations are again lovely. Again, there are silly throw away lines - my favourite was about locations in the asteroid belt:
…and Abnegation, which was woven out of brown string by Presbyterians.
Larklight’s obvious pop-culture reference was from The War of the Worlds. This one from Starcross should be even more recognisable:
“He dreamed of founding a Rebel Alliance which would strike at your Empire from a hidden base…”
All the same, I didn’t enjoy Starcross quite as much as I did Larklight. I’m not sure why, but it didn’t have quite as much sparkle. Maybe it was that the world wasn’t so new to me, or maybe it was the story itself. While the Moobs were a neat idea, I’m personally afraid of spiders, which may be a factor in why I found the Old Ones in the previous book to be a much more successful enemy. Or maybe it’s just that, even in a book that isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, I simply couldn’t take evil top hats as a valid villain. (No, they’re not actually top hats, but I’m not going to spoil it.)
That said, I still enjoyed reading it a lot and I’m looking forward to reading Mothstorm. If you haven’t read anything in this series by Philip Reeve before, start with Larklight, as their are spoilers in this book for the previous one, especially relating to Art and Myrtle’s mother. Otherwise, settle back for another fun adventure and spend a pleasant afternoon or two adventuring across the solar system.
Larklight, Book 2