Thursday, 3 September 2009

Mothstorm - Philip Reeve

The third (and concluding?) part of the adventures of Art Mumby and his family is as rip-roaring and rollicking (sorry Myrtle) as its predecessors. With the same blend of humour and invention, the Mumby family are about to celebrate Christmas when news of an impending invasion of the solar system reaches them and their guests.

As with all such adventures, nothing goes smoothly. From the very beginning, their forces are divided as the intransigence of representatives of the Empire upset Jack Havoc. He takes his ship off in one direction whilst the Mumby’s head outward to face the coming Mothstorm.

There are battles, revelations, soppy bits (and a fine throwaway about boarding kennels for older sisters), and an adversary greater than any they have so far faced. As such, this is a more straightforward tale than the previous two. We know the characters well enough now for developments (such as they are) to take a firm back seat to a break neck story.

Well-written with those odd touches of humour and jokes thrown in for adults (echoing the recently published Mortal Engines prequel); this proves that a book can be literate and a great deal of fun. The illustrations are equally delicious. And together they provide a wonderful and affectionate send-up of all those boy’s own adventure stories written at a time when there was still an Empire and it was considered a ‘good thing’.

This book provides a satisfying conclusion to all three volumes, yet there is undeniably a whole solar system of trouble out there and it is to be hoped that the author will one day give us more.