• Malcolm Fernandes

BOOK REVIEW! STARCROSS By Philip Reeve & Decorated Throughout By David Wyatt

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

Written by Philip Reeve and illustrated by the awesome David Wyatt, Starcross is the second book in the Larklight trilogy. Set in a steam-punky world with everything from space SHIPS, colorful characters, strange creatures, time travel, diabolical antagonists AND ALL the trappings of a colonial nineteenth century (western) world (or universe? Mmm..), this book was absolute fun!

Told in the first person (except for the prologue), the story revolves around the adventures of Art and Myrtle Mumby. The two tween (I guess) siblings (along with their mother) are lured into a menacing world after accepting an invitation to visit the Starcross hotel in the asteroid belt near Mars. Art's mother immediately suspects that Starcross is built on a piece of Mars itself and their adventures begin when Myrtle discovers that two agents of Her Majesty's Secret Service — Sir Richard Burton and his Martian wife Ulla have been changed into trees.

The opening illustration from the book

What I love best about this book:

1: From the meticulously decorated end papers to the final portrait scene of the author and himself, I love all of David Wyatt's mind blowing work in the illustrations department

2: The prologue: It very successfully sets the tone and establishes the world of Starcross. (That first illustration of Richard and Ulla leaping off the promenade and onto the beach of Starcross just did it for me)

3: Everything about Reeve's fantastical world and characters

4: The edgy period (and world) appropriate prose (that required me to have google/merriam-webster.com at click-reach on more than one occasion)

Just a snippet of the particularly detailed end-papers.

Published by Bloomsbury, I read the paperback version of the book and it is absolutely worth it! Between the story, the writing itself and gorgeous illustrations this book reminded me of why I think physical books rock! Yes, eBooks have all their benefits, but there's nothing that delivers an experience like something that you can touch and feel. And congratulations to all who worked on this one; this book delivers!

Now there are a few very, very minor things that I would have liked to see in this book (based on type of book this is, my own taste and the type of reader I am):

1. Higher stakes/more danger - though everything about this book comes together rather nicely, I knew from the very beginning that all was going to be fine with our heroes, and that they were in no "real" danger (but I guess: a: this is a children's book and the tale is light-hearted in that regard. b: when a story is being told in the first person, the fact that all's well in the end is sort of already given away). But still, I would've loved to see a little more danger, peril and intrigue.

2. The prose is period/style appropriate, and though it's one of my fav aspects about the book and the author, it may however be a little lofty/ not age friendly (being that this is a children’s book). Again, this is just my opinion and could be viewed as a good thing as well.

Overall, this is an awesome book. I cannot wait to check out the other books in the trilogy... and can't wait for the full-blown color illustrated version of the book to come out, as well :):).

Final Recommendation:

1: If you're an adult/ young adult and love children's books, good fun-Sci-fi-Steampunk, or love work featuring awesome author-illustrator collabs — DO read it!

2: If you're a parent/adult thinking about getting a book that's fun:

a: for your fiction-inclined, art-inclined or book-loving kiddo — THIS ONE’S GREAT!

b: for a kiddo you're not so sure will like this, take them to the library/bookstore and be sure to point this book out to them

3: If you're a student of illustration/art/literature and/or if you're interested in the topics of world building, studying how strong prose and strong picture work can come together for the reader/viewer... THIS BOOK IS AWESOME!

5 Stars!

Check out my book review with pics here...


Starcross by Philip Reeve

Illustrated by David Wyatt

Genre: Children’s Fiction

First published by Bloomsbury in 2007


good fantasy books, books for kids, mystery books, chapter books, Short story, middle grade school, Strange Tales, Adventure books, adventure books for tweens

Want more book recommendations? Check out our 121 Children's Book Recommendations


My Interview with David Wyatt - Illustrator of Starcross

In September last year we posted our interview with sci-fi genius, Andy Weir — writer of Cheshire Crossing, Artemis and of course, the Martian. This time around we speak to David Wyatt – illustrator extraordinaire to some of the top in the lit world, including — Philip Reeve, Jasper Fforde, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Janina Ramirez and more.

David grew up in West Sussex — England, reading a lot, drawing a lot and messing around in the rivers a lot. He reports that not much has changed except, he’s now based in Dartmoor. He also loves playing music, cycling, dancing the Argentinian Tango and growing things to eat. I recently stumbled across David’s work on Philip Reeve’s Starcross by total accident and boy, was I glad I did. Starcross is littered with some fabulous work in ink and brings Reeve’s already awesome prose to spectacular life. Loved it so much, I had to seek out more of his work, and then the man himself — to prod him on just a few things😀😀. So, without further ado, let’s get to it…

Read the full interview POSTED ON FACEBOOK SEP 26 2019. Click here or the below image to jump to the page...

What do you think of this book review? Have you read Starcross? What's your fav Philip Reeve book? Go ahead, let us know by posting a comment OR popping us an email to malcolmfernandesbooks@gmail.com


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