Philip Reeve’s Starcross (Amazon) is perhaps one of the more nuts books I’ve read this year â€“ the British Empire is under attack from fiendish top hats. In Larklight (Amazon) we were introduced to the Mumby’s when they saved the universe from the white spiders a discovered that their mother was a very old alien. Whilst doing so, Myrtle met Captain Jack of the Sophronia (reviewed earlier by me here).
Art and Myrtle Mumby are called on by the British Empire by an absence of adults (they’ve carelessly been turned into Venusian Changeling trees). After an accepting a gift far too good to be true, they are whisked off to the new holiday destination of Starcross, a timeslipping hotel. Myrtle has been writing to Jack but he has not yet responded â€“ piquing her which is somewhat inadvisable. Whilst trying to uncover the hat’s fiendish plot, they discover a counter plot by the dastardly French Empire seeking to overthrown the British.
Inventively told in two distinct voices, Reeves captures the essence of the brother â€“ sister relationship as the bickering goes on between the siblings. It prevents the novel sliding into a plain adventure novel or a time slip novel but provides a different perspective. Once again the illustrations work so well with the text. This is a book which takes various genres and uses them shamelessly to provide a compelling read. It is wise enough to know the limitations and undercuts them in its changes. The Adventures of Art and Myrtle Mumby are an essential good time read and the illustrations by David Wyatt are a joy.