Monday, June 27, 2011
Native Star (Native Star #1) by M.K. Hobson
In the tradition of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, this brilliant first novel fuses history, fantasy, and romance. Prepare to be enchanted by M. K. Hobson’s captivating take on the Wild, Wild West.
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.
A western witchpunk fantasy.
Curious yet? What a mouthful, right? Immediately after putting it down, I had this big grin on my face. It was fun; it was exciting but what had I just read exactly? "Western witchpunk fantasy" is perfectly apt because there are witches and warlocks. There's blood magic, spirit magic then faith magic. There are doors to other dimensions and zombie miners. What a splendid surprise this was!
This story is just what readers impatient with today's current crop of books that are copies of each other need. It offers a great introduction into witchpunk. Who here has never heard of that? I hadn't. I had no idea how to peg it. At first, it was very horror-gothicky, with ghosts and soldiers and a haunted warehouse, then it felt like a western, especially with a small town girl taking care of her father, then later on it was her weaving spells and making charms. So surprising? Most definitely.
Add the fact that the two leads were practical, impatient, passionate, and opinionated. Emily is twenty-five, but still relatively ignorant of what goes on outside her town. Her wants are simple: take care of her father, practice her craft in peace. In hopes of answering all those wants, she's set her sights on Dag, the town's most affluent bachelor. But there's Dreadnought Stanton to contend with. (awesome name, yes?) He's the credomancer she finds a little too pompous and arrogant. The great thing is they were exctly what they thought each other to be (save Stanton's big secret in the end,) where Emily says Stanton is stuffy, pompous and arrogant, he really is. In the same vein, where Stanton describes her as untutored in modern methods, she really is. But the other great thing is they develop. They don't stay the same. Each thing that happened to them had a hand in them going from merely interesting to good to impressive characters.
Then the romance. Could this book not get any better? It was sweet, it was cute... and I saw it develop! Their connection was not instant; in fact, it was the complete opposite. Brought together by necessity, there was no choice but to get to know each other.
The one thing that had me questioning the five point rating I was leaning toward was the villain. He came across as just your average but necessary crazy evil guy. He was not enough to sway me it seems espcially when I think back to how much I really enjoyed the warlock and the witch with a blue gem in her hand.
UNEXPECTED and DELICIOUS