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Mothstorm by Philip Reeve and David Wyatt

Larklight is the home of Art Mumby and his family. Proudly British, well brought up, and with high morals, they represent the typical high class Victorian family. An average Victorian family, however, does not live in an orbit around the Moon. Nor does it constantly battle with the threat of white spiders, moobs and the Mothmaker, or befriend varying species of martian pirates.

Mothstorm by Philip Reeve and David Wyatt

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Harriet Reed
Reviewed by Harriet Reed
Summary: A witty, gripping and exhilarating adventure combining fantasy and Victorian history.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747594161

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This is the new world created by Philip Reeve in the breathless and inventive book Mothstorm, the third in the Larklight series. It follows the adventures of Art, his sister Myrtle and their friend Jack Havoc as they struggle to maintain a normal life as they repeatedly get embroiled in different adventures.

The plot itself is intriguing and interesting enough, but I found it less fascinating than previous ones in Larklight and Starcross. A shapeshifting woman, more powerful than Art's mother, wants to take over Earth using her army of Snilth and Moths, and realises she can only do this once her one potential foe is exterminated: Emily Mumby. As the narrative jumps from character to character and situation to situation the storyline builds up and different families are reunited. The battles and skirmishes are exciting, but I found myself more interested in the subplot of a potential cure for the Venus sickness, which Jack's family suffers from. This was pushed to the side until the very end to concentrate on the main problem: an invasion of Earth and specifically the murder of Queen Victoria.

Mothstorm brilliantly describes an alternate world that explains what would have happened if space exploration had evolved in Victorian times, with the colonisation of planets combined with the same Victorian style of manners, wording and law. It may sound ludicrous, the combination of sci-fi and history, but they are blended perfectly and gloriously illustrated by David Wyatt.

The pace is fast, enough to keep young readers interested, yet also dense enough to hold a complicated plot and appeal to adults. It flies through different locations and situations, pulling you along with the characters and their thoughts. I especially enjoyed the shifts from Art's and Myrtle's perspective, making it more available to girls who wouldn't be able to sympathise with Art. Philip Reeve has made this book engaging for everyone and created a series totally unique to the genre.

Much of the humour comes from Myrtle's obsession with decorum even in the most inappropriate situations, and Art's constant desire to play the hero. However, there are a few modern private jokes for adults, especially when dealing with real celebrities of the Victorian era. It also deals with some important themes: friendship, loyalty, morality, and the abuse of power.

The only quibble I could make is that at some points Art's childish narrative irritated me slightly, dispelling the tension and disrupting the flow of the story. However, this probably wouldn't bother children.

Mothstorm will keep you hooked, make you laugh and convince you entirely. I sincerely hope Philip Reeve and David Wyatt produce a fourth book!

Thank you to the publishers for sending the book.

We've also enjoyed Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve.

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Buy Mothstorm by Philip Reeve and David Wyatt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mothstorm by Philip Reeve and David Wyatt at


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