Art Mumby and his older sister Myrtle live alone with their father in a huge twisty house called Larklight. It's old and rambling -- full of extra rooms, multiple staircases and family history. Art is perfectly happy living out in the boonies; Myrtle wishes that they lived closer to London, so she'd be up on the current fashions and closer to the balls and parties. But Larklight is quite some distance from genteel society -- it's in outer space.
Larklight could totally have worked as a serial. What with the fact that each chapter ends on a cliffhanger AND works pretty well as its own adventure (rather like the Oz books) AND the subject matter/time frame, it would have been perfect.
Hooray for Philip Reeve. Larklight is RAD. You get the fun of Victorian-speak combined with funny footnotes, interstellar travel with space pirates, CANNONS, space spiders, automatons, squabbling siblings, a Big Family Secret, a visit to Jupiter's Red Spot and much, much more.
Art is a fantastic narrator -- this passage really highlights how fabulously (and hilariously) Philip Reeve combined the Victorian era and science fiction:
Among my mother's books I had once discovered a volume of stories by a gentleman named Mr Poe, who lives in Her Majesty's American colonies. There was one, The Premature Burial, which gave me nightmares for weeks after I read it, and I remember thinking that there could be no fate more horrible than to be buried alive, and wondering what kind of deranged and sickly mind could have invented such a tale. But as I lay there immobilised in a jar on the wrong side of the Moon with only a ravening caterpillar for company I realised that Mr Poe was actually quite a cheery, light-hearted sort of chap, and that his story had been touchingly optimistic.
See what I mean? And while Art is the main narrator, Myrtle even has some of her own chapters:
Chapter Fourteen: Another Dip into My Sister's Diaries, Which May Be Welcomed by Readers of a Sensitive Disposition as a Sort of Break or Breathing Space from My Own Almost Unbearably Exciting Adventures
Fans of Baum will like Larklight, and maybe even fans of Gilliam's Baron Munchausen. Give it to just about anyone -- kids and adults alike -- who's looking for a smart, funny, rip-roaring adventure yarn.