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OVERVIEW: Emily Edwards makes her living as a local “witch” for a small settlement in the Sierra Nevada but business isn’t doing so well after a big-town mail order magic system starts to make its way into the small town. With hopes of helping her family advance in society, Emily casts a love spell that happens to be a little too powerful and it’s all downhill from there.
After a precious enchanted artifact falls into Emily’s hands (literally) strange things start happening and a band of evil warlocks make their attempt to steal the powerful artifact. Emily, with local warlock Dreadnought Stanton, must make her way across the country to seek the answers as to what this magic stone is, how to remove it from Emily’s hand and why these evil warlocks want it in the first place.
FORMAT: Native Star is a mixture of steampunk, action-adventure, mystery, alternative history and a tiny tiny bit of romance. It is published by Spectra and stands at 387 pages. It is a first of a series but the plot elements stand enough on its own that there are no major cliffhangers.
ANALYSIS: Remember the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well Native Star goes by the theory that you shouldn’t judge a book by its book description. When I first received Native Star I saw words like “romance” “love” and the last line that refers to the two main characters, Emily Edwards and Dreadnought Stanton having to face the most “unpredictable magic of all – the magic of the human heart”. Those lines alone were enough to make me chalk this book up as a soupy romance with magical elements and toss it aside, yet something kept nagging me to read it – and I’m glad I did because I would have missed out on this excellent book.
Native Star is nothing like the book description and that’s a good thing. It’s about 10% romance and 90% action, adventure and mystery.
Hobson knows just how to create and build an alternative history version to what the 1870s would have been like if there were witches, warlocks and magic systems running wild. Readers may find it slightly confusing the first chapter or two but after a slightly shaky start it’s smooth sailing and everything starts to piece together.
The bulk of this novel revolves around Emily Edwards and Dreadnought Stanton taking a cross-country trip to seek information about a precious gem that has found its way into Emily’s hand. Hobson knows how to bring readers to the edge of their seat by giving them scenes that are filled with action and adventure. While there are plenty of adventure scenes there is just the right amount of information and plot movement that readers are never stuck too long in a certain place or time and it’s almost impossible to get bored with this novel.
Another major bonus that came with Native Star is just how detailed the characters and magic system really are. Hobson doesn’t need thousands of pages to develop a detailed magic system that is complex but not so complex that it requires footnotes and extensive explanations. The characters are very real in the novel. Emily, the main character of sorts, is three-dimensional, makes mistakes and acts like a real human being. Dreadnought Stanton is a mystery for most of the chapters but Hobson slowly pulls the wool from the readers eyes by revealing little bits and pieces of the character until readers are left with a full character by the end of the book.
If there’s one thing that frustrated me with the book I would have to say that it was the whole unveiling of the secret society. There wasn’t much given in this book and I am assuming it’s being reserved for future books in the series but I would have liked to see a tiny bit more unveiled to readers in the first novel. There is so much action, mystery and adventure that this isn’t too frustrating but some readers might feel a little “cheated” or that it’s a “teaser” for future novels by only mentioning some of it in passing and not really developing it until later in the series.
Native Star is by far my favorite read of 2011 and I regret not having read it when it came out in 2010. I feel in love with the book within the first five chapters and literally could not put it down until it was finished.
Don’t let the romance factor get in the way because you just might be missing out on one really great book. I know I almost missed it.