Written by: M.K. Hobson
Pages: 387 (Mass Market Paperback)
The premise: ganked from BN.com: The year is 1876. In the small Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pine, the town witch, Emily Edwards, is being run out of business by an influx of mail-order patent magics. Attempting to solve her problem with a love spell, Emily only makes things worse. But before she can undo the damage, an enchanted artifact falls into her possession—and suddenly Emily must flee for her life, pursued by evil warlocks who want the object for themselves.
Dreadnought Stanton, a warlock from New York City whose personality is as pompous and abrasive as his name, has been exiled to Lost Pine for mysterious reasons. Now he finds himself involuntarily allied with Emily in a race against time—and across the United States by horse, train, and biomechanical flying machine—in quest of the great Professor Mirabilis, who alone can unlock the secret of the coveted artifact. But along the way, Emily and Stanton will be forced to contend with the most powerful and unpredictable magic of all—the magic of the human heart.
Worth the Cash: I'll admit, I started this book while in the hospital, doped up on painkillers, and I was a little worried at first that I wouldn't make it through. However, I set it aside and tried again later when painkillers weren't quite the issue, and I was very pleased at how quickly the pages turned and how enjoyable the world-building was. Hobson interjects the right amount of all her genre-ific elements to keep me on my toes and keep me guessing as to just how the nature of the story will work out. Emily, for the most part, is a heroine to cheer for too because she's so resourceful and determined to get what she wants, even though her motivations can lead her to make mistakes. I'll admit it wasn't until I finished with the book and re-read the prologue that I realized how said prologue related to the rest of the book, but that's a me-on-painkillers issue rather than a writer not working the prologue in well. In fact, in retrospect, the prologue might be a wee bit obvious, but others who read this book with a clear head are better fit to comment on that than I.
As for me, Hobson is promising a sequel slated for next year called The Hidden Goddess, and while I was a bit scared of The Native Star because I was afraid the romance would overwhelm the rest of the story, I'll show no such hesitation for the sequel. This book was fun, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what further adventures await our heroine in this magic-infused alternate history. The Native Star is a happy hybrid of Emma Bull's Territory and Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series (and for giggles, let's add a splash of Cherie Priest's Boneshaker too), and if you enjoyed two or more of these books, you should have fun with this one too.
Review style: Because this review is mirrored over at Dreams & Speculation, I'm going to keep it short (okay, maybe not THAT short) and sweet by discussing what I think are the roots of this book in terms of what's come before (publication-wise), and then talk about what this book adds and why it stands out. No spoilers, because that would be mean. The full review is at my journal, for those of you interested. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)
REVIEW: M.K. Hobson's THE NATIVE STAR
Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!
September: So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson
October: Feed by Mira Grant
November: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin