infobox Book |
name = Larklight
language = English
publisher = Bloomsbury
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 400
followed_by = Starcross
"Larklight" is a
young adult novelby author Philip Reeve. It is illustrated by David Wyatt. It is the first book in the Larklight Trilogy.
"Larklight" is set in an alternate Victorian era universe, where mankind has been exploring the solar system since the time of
Isaac Newton. A movie version will be directed by Indian director Shekhar Karpur.
Arthur Mumby (called Art), his sister Myrtle and their father Edward live in a huge, rambling house called Larklight that orbits around the moon and earth by itself. Their mother, Amelia Mumby, was lost on a space ship ride to earth and Myrtle took on the role of lady of the house.
One morning, the Mumbys receive notice of a visitor from the Royal Xenological Society, Mr. Webster (note the name) and the house becomes a flurry of activity, preparing for this mysterious guest. The next day, Art wakes up to find that the entire house has been encased in webbing and comes down stairs to see that Larklight is being invaded by white spiders of unearthly origin. Mr Mumby tells Art to take Myrtle to the escape pods and leave, before being captured by the spiders. Art and Myrtle do so and crash land on the moon. As they walk, they come upon a mushroom man, the species that inhabit the moon, and the mushroom-man touches Myrtle's locket and squeals, causing Myrtle to run away. Art follows her to the Plain of Jars, where they are both kidnapped and encased in their own jars, with man-eating larva to keep them company, by the Potter Moth. They encounter the fifteen year old "pirate" Jack Havock and his crew who break them out of their jars and kill the Potter Moth. After a small skirmish, Jack offers to fly the two Mumbys to the moon's British residence, Fort George. On the way there aboard the aether-ship, the "Sophronia", a ship of the British Navy comes alongside and orders Jack, who has gotten a reputation for being quite the swashbuckling pirate, to surrender or have his ship destroyed. Jack is ready to give up and surrender quietly, but with a fleeting glance at Myrtle, who has fainted, he comes up with a plan. While he distracts the officers by pretending to hold Art and Myrtle hostage, Ssillissa, the ship's alchemist, has time to perform the chemical wedding and get the "Sophronia" to safety. They then travel to Venus, Jack Havock's old home, to lay low for a while, and Jack tells the story of how his parents and brother got sick and were changed into trees. Myrtle is touched by this story and she finally become friends with Jack and even though he has romantic feelings for her, he doesn't not confess this. Art spots the spider's black ship in the sky and all three of them race back to the ship. Myrtle is kidnapped and taken to
Mars, where she is a prisoner of Sir Waverly Rain, who factories span almost all of Phobos and Deimos. She escapes with a Martian maid by the name of Ulla (the name is probably a reference to war of the worlds) and her husband, Richard. They realize that Sir Waverly Rain was taken by the spiders and replaced with an automaton, and believing the spiders might manufacture something much more sinister, they race to London.
Jack and Art, meanwhile are on the moon Io, of Jupiter. They descend into Jupiter’s atmosphere, where they encounter the Thunderhead (the
Great Red Spot) who tells them to keep the key to Larklight safe. Not knowing what this is, they attempt to leave Jupiter, only to have the man who brought them there abandon them. They escape to a broken down harpoon ship attached to a space whale, and find out that Myrtle's locket is the key to Larklight. The ship begins to loosen from the harpoon holding it into the space whale and Jack and Art panic. The "Sophronia's" crew finds them and returns them to safety and they then head for Saturn. On the way there, Jack steals the locket from Art, to use to bargain for Myrtle's safe return. Art is astonished at this act of kindness and Nipper tells him that Jack loves Myrtle. The white spiders attack and take the necklace.
Ssillissa takes Art into hiding until the white spiders leave and when they come out, they find that everyone has been taken by the spiders. Art and Ssillissa enter the white spiders' fortress and rescue all the "Sophronia's" crew except Jack. Art goes looking for him and finds him imprisoned in the office of a figure from his past, Professor Phineas Ptarmigan, who worked at the Royal Xenological Institute, where Jack was imprisoned until he was twelve. Ptarmigan reveals that he is attempting to use Larklight to destroy the worlds of the
Solar System. After a brief fight and the discovery of Art's very much alive mother (who turns out to be a Shaper, one of the ancient beings who create the solar systems and planets), they head for Larklight. At Larklight, which is secretly a magical Shaper ship, they defeat the spiders, then travel to Earth, where a huge mechanical spider is wreaking havoc in London. Jack refuses to leave Larklight, for all he cares about is Myrtle. They meet Ptarmigan who confesses that he doesn't want to help the spiders at all, only enslave them. Mr. Webster hears this and tries to kill Ptarmigan, but Jack comes to his rescue, flying in from the sky. Myrtle manages to capture the machine, and kill the white spider controlling it, and uses it to kill Mr. Webster thereby ending the chaos and saving London and the Empire. Jack confesses his feelings for Myrtle and she explains that she feels the same way. Art is embarrassed by this and is shown in the illustration peeking out from between his fingers while Jack and Myrtle embrace.
The epilogue explains that while of the white spiders escaped, Ptarmigan put in an asylum. The rest of the Mumby family and the "Sophronia" crew reside at Larklight, whose otherworldly technology was taken out and examined. It seems that all is well and Art comments that he will have many more adventures, but first he must get something to eat.
Mars in fiction
Venus in fiction
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