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The Native Star Mass Market Paperback – August 31, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Veneficas Americana Series

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A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly
"A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly
THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel and casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Clever and original, Hobson's splendid debut is a colorful journey through Reconstruction-era America. Young country witch Emily Edwards battles a horde of zombies and winds up with a mysterious magical stone embedded in her hand. Escorted by the academically-trained warlock Dreadnought Stanton, who is afflicted with a magical disease and a very superior attitude, Emily reluctantly sets out to meet with warlocks from the Mirabilis Institute in hopes of getting the stone removed. Betrayal sends Emily and Dreadnought fleeing on a rollicking cross-country trip, with military blood-warlock and torturer Captain Caul in hot pursuit and the fate of all magic at stake. Clever techno-magical artifacts with steampunk flair, evil Aberrancies, and a unique tripartite magical system provide a colorful backdrop to the politics of the warlocks, the secrets of the stone, and the mystery of Emily's past. The growing attraction of Emily and Dreadnought is convincingly portrayed, while Caul's willingness to commit evil act in the service of patriotism makes a timely political point without belaboring the issue. The story is complete in and of itself and will leave readers eagerly awaiting the sequel.
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"The Native Star is engaging, atmospheric, and lovely. I was quite taken by the concept of an Old West built on a foundation of magic and zombie slave labor. Oh, and giant raccoons. Bring on the coons! And how spectacular is the name Dreadnought Stanton? This book utterly absorbed me from start to finish—these days you have no idea how rare that is. You have something special in your hands—no pun intended." —Gail Carriger, New York Times bestelling author of Soulless

“M. K. Hobson dazzles! The Native Star is an awesome mash-up of magic and steam-age technology—call it witchpunk. This debut novel puts a new shine on the Gilded Age.” —C. C. Finlay
“Splendid! In The Native Star, M. K. Hobson gives us a Reconstruction-era America, beautifully drawn and filled with the energy of a young nation—and magic! Her heroine, Emily Edwards, is outspoken,  rash, loving, and true; a delight to spend time with. Could there be a sequel, please?” —Madeleine Robins

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; 1st Printing edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553592653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553592658
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,145,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

M.K. Hobson recently decided to follow a time-honored authorial tradition and become a bitter recluse. She swore off all social media and left her website to go to seed. At the moment, she exists only as a voice on short fiction podcasts such as Podcastle and Cast of Wonders.

She leavens the tedium of her vastly expanded free time with misanthropy, paranoia, and weight lifting.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Native Star" is, I believe, the first solo work published by author M.K. Hobson. (she has published other short stories in a collection series of fantasy works with other authors). This Kindle ebook edition is 400 pages in length.


The era is the 1870's and the location is in the American west. Fate has intervened and thrown together two very different individuals...a benevolent witch by the name of Emily Edwards and an out of favor warlock, Dreadnought Stanton. Unusual circumstances lead them to the site of a strange mining accident where Emily finds a beautiful blue gem...and upon picking it up, it becomes embedded within her hand. This gem has mysterious powers and once its presence in known, every necromancer, every magician of any renown, wants to have it for his own. Our heroes flee with the hopes of getting to New York, where the one person who might be able to provide some answers and help resides...the story begins and the chase ensues.


Author Hobson weaves a fine tale. I had the feeling at the beginning that this would be a light hearted 'western' (romance, horses and small towns etc.) with a few zombies thrown in the mix. However, such was not the case, because not only did this turned out to have some very well developed, interesting characters, but also the 'light-hearted' (mentioned above), soon turned out to be exceeding gory and unpleasant at times. All this because of some interesting evil-doers doing whatever was needed to accomplishes their goals...in this case gain possession, at any cost, of the blue gem.

Previously, an unknown author to me; I picked up this book mainly because of an intriguing cover and the high number of 5 star reviews.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A fast paced, heady blend of adventure, romance, western and fantasy, I found The Native Star to be a delicious, compulsive read.

Young Emily Edwards, the local enchantress of a remote California timber camp, begins the book by making a series of very bad decisions involving love spells, a young man she's adored since childhood, mining camp zombies, and a hotly pursued magically reactive mineral that has not only embedded itself in her hand, but also seem to have something to do with her dimly-remembered murdered mother. To top it off, Emily is saddled with an irritatingly attractive New York City-slicker wizard who knows much more about magic than she does, and isn't afraid to rub her nose in it -- when he deigns to tell her anything at all.

Emily's adventure avalanches from there, chasing her from her childhood home across the United States by trans-continental train and clockwork-magical flying machine. In quick succession, this rural girl has to run from the wood-fired rustic Sierra Nevada backlands to San Francisco's red light district, and then to the glittering arcane lights and overcrowded hoopla of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Along the way, Emily must figure out where her own backwoods spell casting fits into the world economy of magic systems, and discover how cheaply life is bought and sold by the political and magical power brokers of the U.S. and the terrifying, ruthless underworld overlords.

The Native Star is original, blisteringly paced, satisfying, and compulsively readable. The author has created her own new sub-genre of fantasy (she calls it Bustlepunk but I'd name it Spellpunk Western.) She reports that a sequel is in the works, and I personally hope for many more. As quickly as possible, please!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I will start this review by pointing out I adore period pieces. I have a soft spot for urban fantasy. Urban fantasy set in a wonderfully rich historical setting? Sold.

The Native Star takes place in a slightly different late 1800's America. Witches and Warlocks are standard fare and there are competing schools of magic. The schools themselves are amazingly well thought out and each have a fascinating culture of their own. Strong world building is what pulled me in to this novel, and a wonderful cast of characters kept me reading. Apart from the magical schools (credomancy being my favorite for the sheer brilliance of it's design) there are the Aberrancies, creatures (and occasionally people) twisted by a dark matter the magical core of the earth exudes from time to time.

The protagonists are wonderfully human, with all the flaws and failings that implies, and the best of the villains are perfectly chilling. It is a love story worked very well into a grand tapestry of adventure, violence, and betrayal.

The book opens with a love charm gone terribly wrong, works its way through zombie miners that would kill to keep something buried, and the woman who unfortunately gets past them and winds up with an artifact of unprecedented power embedded in her hand.

And all of the competing magical schools would kill to have it in their possession.

What results is an excellent, fast-paced read that is very hard to put down.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Plot Summary: Emily Edwards is the resident witch of Lone Pine, California. Her homey remedies and herbal treatments have earned her a place in the community, but one day Emily uses her magic for a dishonorable purpose and before she can correct her error, she becomes burdened with a stone that zaps all of her powers. When the townspeople casts her out, the only person who can help her is an insufferable warlock from New York named Dreadnought Stanton, who thinks that Emily is a primitive, ignorant camp witch. Stanton realizes the importance of the stone, and he convinces her to visit his institute for assistance. From there the pair encounters rabid, house-sized raccoons, a holy Indian woman, blood sorcerers, and flying bio-mechanical animals. This is just the warm-up.

I think the time is ripe for novels like The Native Star. Part fantasy, part historical, part romance, and with a sprinkling of steampunk, it's a colorful mix of all of my favorite styles within one book. My goodness, there were even zombies! There have been a few of these cropping up here and there, like Soulless by Gail Carriger, and I certainly hope to see more, but what sets M. K. Hobson's debut apart is that it's set in the American West. The setting spans from San Francisco all the way to New York City, and it's hard to top that kind of big, bold, cross-country adventure. This is the type of story that can satisfy so many different kinds of readers that I have no idea where I'd shelve it in a bookstore.

The Native Star works because Ms. Hobson did not take all of these elements and toss them randomly like a salad. Her fantasy world is robust and complicated; those who possess the ability to work with magic are divided into multiple factions who operate with all the fervor of religious zealots.
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