Word on the street is that Larklight is a steampunk must-read. It’s also on Goodreads’ Trippy Books list, so my curiosity was spiked.

The book has a great premise: in Victorian England, Sir Isaac Newton discovered that alchemy could power spaceflight, an event that accelerated human exploration of space by centuries.

Her Majesty’s Empire now stretches across several parts of the solar system, an ideal setting for this epic Victorian space-opera. 12-year-old Art, 15-year-old Myrtle and their father live a quiet life in a boat/ship called Larklight, until a mysterious visitor throws them into an adventure across space, where they must fight against evil forces to save the universe.

I was completely in love with the story until impossibly wacky things started to happen. Of course you can argue that steampunk itself is impossible, but it’s still based on some  sort of reality and partly grounded on the laws of physics. On the other hand, walking and talking fungi inhabiting the Moon is less than likely…

The language of the book is enjoyably Victorian and Art is a fun (if clueless) first-person narrator, but I quickly get bored with books where anything can happen, as was the case with Alice in Wonderland, which I didn’t even finish. I’m afraid my lack of appreciation for surrealism in paintings, sculpture and film also applies to literature.

However, I might have ignored the lack of boundaries if Reeve had included an interesting female character. Unfortunately we’re left with a choice between whinny Myrtle who while escaping from certain death refuses to run across the villain’s lawn because of a “keep off the grass” sign, and a blue she-lizard pirate who decides to dress up like a lady to get the attention of the human boy she’s in love with.

If you don’t mind a stereotype or two, and if you think you might like something that a tripping Verne might have written, this is the book for you!

Book read for the Steampunk Challenge.


Other thoughts: Book Clutter (yours?)