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The Native Star (Veneficas Americana) Mass Market Paperback – August 31, 2010
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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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.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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
Top customer reviews
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I agree with others who said they liked Emily, but couldn't warm up to Stanton. Their blossoming relationship lacked credibility and was probably the book's greatest flaw.
While the story definitely fuses history, fantasy, and romance, the publisher's statement: "In the Tradition of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" is cringe-worthy. I can't imagine two books less alike in tone or writing style. This is a perfect example of trying to ride the coattails of a popular book, but in this case the author is not to blame since it was the publisher's misguided idea of a good sales strategy.
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.
I loved Stanton from the moment he walked on stage and was really glad to see that the things I enjoyed about him remained intact despite his character transformation over the course of the book. Emily took a little while for me to warm up to. She came off as a little whiny initially, but eventually I grew to like her a lot. Caul is appropriately sinister and mad, and I particularly enjoyed his savage stuttering. The underlying love story was satisfying as well.
Things I didn't particularly care for: I was really meh about the whole Aztec sangrimancers angle, with them wanting to destroy the world. I feel slightly less annoyed with it now that I've read the opening of The Hidden Goddess and see that it's more complicated than that, but on the whole I would like to see a more diversified portrayal of Aztec religion in fiction. They seem to be an easy boogey man to slap on things as mindless, border-line psychotic villains and paints Aztec religion with too broad a brush. The mass human sacrifices the Spanish saw when they arrived was the byproduct of the political philosophies of one particular Cihuacoatl that reigned in his position through 4 different Emperors, and these practices weren't widely popular with the people, even in the valley of Mexico itself. Otherwise Cortez and his band of conquistadors wouldn't have encountered so many tribes eager to aid him in overthrowing Tenochtitlan. I'm not entirely sure that the next book is going to go far enough to correct this stereotype, but I'm willing to see where Hobson takes it. I hope it's in a good, diversified and thoughtful direction.