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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Starcross: Larklight 2 by Philip Reeve



Starcross: Larklight 2 by Philip Reeve
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (370 pgs)
Rating: 5 suns
Reviewed by Orchid

Art and his family are invited on a fantastic free holiday to the exotic Asteroid Belt, in a remote part of space near Mars. Taking the train, they arrive to discover that nothing is quite as it seems – the hotel slips curiously back and forth through time, and the guests behave rather strangely too. What is behind these bizarre goings on? It’s up to Art, Jack Havoc and his sister Myrtle (against her will) to get to the bottom of things. But the giant sand clams and man-eating starfish which roam freely nearby are nothing compared to the True Enemy, which is cunning, sinister, and almost unstoppable, and may resemble a hat . . .

I couldn’t believe it when the invitation arrived. A free holiday in the Asteroid Belt sounded too good to be true. Regrettably, it was.

With a hook like that on the cover who could resist reading the second volume in the Larklight adventures? Just when things had settled down and the Mumby’s could enjoy family life again, the universe has another surprise for them.

Art and his family are enjoying a well earned free holiday at the Starcross Hotel in the Asteroid Belt. Art is suspicious when he finds the hotel slips backwards and forwards in time, as does the sea on the beach across from the hotel. There is also the matter of the strange hats. Everyone seems to be wearing them, but as soon as the hats are on their heads, they start to act strangely.

Myrtle is a bit miffed when Jack Havoc arrives, she hasn’t forgiven him for not contacting her after he left Larklight some time before. Necessity draws the three of them together to try and rescue old friends, defeat old enemies and discover the True Enemy.

Myrtle, Jack and Art are separated when the True Enemy makes his move, but all behave with heroic bravery to fight back and hopefully win the day.

Myrtle remains a well brought up young lady who always follows the path of well bred females. Art is still the cheeky young man who loves to tease his sister, but at the same time is protective of her. Jack is now working for the British Empire and he and his varied crew of aliens are eager to trounce the enemy and win the war.

Once again the story is filled with bravado, derring-do and adventure. Enough excitement and chases to stir any young person’s interest. The train journey through space was intriguing. The logical mind had to be suspended as the train track went from asteroid to asteroid and eventually puffed into the station at the asteroid called Starcross. The story moves from Starcross to the main asteroid station, and out into space, each scene keeping the reader on the edge of the seat and hurrying to read more.

Philip Reeve is an expert world builder and although we know in our world traveling by steam train through space is impossible; he makes you feel that in another world it might just happen. Once again the author has brought Victorian England to life in a very surprising way. To Art and his family their lives are fairly normal. To those of us bound to Earth everything they do is truly amazing.

Starcross is an excellent sequel to Larklight but also can be read alone. Be warned however that to read one is to hunger to read them all. Definitely a book for all ages.

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