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The Native Star by M. K. Hobson
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The Native Star (original 2010; edition 2010)

by M. K. Hobson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4123225,790 (3.72)1 / 30
Member:jennieg
Title:The Native Star
Authors:M. K. Hobson
Info:Spectra (2010), Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:2011, TBR Eradication, Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:Fiction

Work details

The Native Star by M. K. Hobson (2010)

Recently added byautumnturner76, KelMunger, private library, MidnightFae, Irena., JennyJen, galphin, mark_wagner
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  1. 00
    Warrior by Zoë Archer (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: It is a little heavier on the romance, and is categorized as such, but has the same historical steampunk adventure feeling, with a bit of magic thrown in. Part of a series of four, Zoe Archer's Blades of the Rose battle a colonialist brotherhood to keep magic in the hands of those who it belongs to. Read the series if The Native Star left you wanting more between Dreadnought and Emily!… (more)
  2. 00
    Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede (SockMonkeyGirl)
    SockMonkeyGirl: Not necessarily intended for the same age group, but with similar worlds.
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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
This book had a wonderful beginning. It started with intriguing characters -- a good ol' country witch (the sticks and herbs and perfumes and potions kind) in the Dr. McCoy vein, a hearthrobby lumberjack, and the stuck-up city boy with horrible secrets. It was an intriguing universe too -- the old west with magic. It's a hero's journey story. The first half is great, but the second half feels paddy, where magic can "suddenly" do things just because it can. Just to provide obstacles for the heroes.

At a certain point the story feels more concerned with showing off what this universe can do and the "neat stuff" in it than it does on resolving the plot. It even needs a prologue to tie its beginning and ending together. And nothing in the prologue has any bearing on the plot in-between. I'm surprised this got past the editors -- it's one of the worst reasons for a prologue. It unmade the story for me from the best thing I read this span. ( )
  theWallflower | Mar 14, 2014 |
I don't really know how to rate this. I think it's really more than 3 but less than 4 stars for me. But I think I was just in the mood for a more traditional romance so in another mood I could have loved this book. The world is a very interesting mix of Western, magic/fantasy with a smidgen of steampunk. Emily and Stanton are both interesting characters although we never really get Stanton's POV so he's a little harder to get to know. It was a book that I enjoyed while I was reading but I also found it easy to put down and get distracted with something else. I'm definitely intrigued enough to read the sequel but I'm going to wait for more of a "fantasy" mood. ( )
  CCleveland | Nov 27, 2013 |
Imagine a world where magic, instead of science, ruled and that it kick-started and fueled the industrial revolution. A world where rampaging mutated animals threaten the landscape and the people who lived there and where witches and warlocks are the masters behind spells that cause mayhem as well as a place of sanctuary. This is the world where The Native Star takes place. Within the first few pages of this book, I got well and truly sucked in, and I could not put it down because it was such a fantastic and imaginative joyride of a read!
Emily Edwards is a herbal witch whose magic is based on natural elements and herbs. Due to increasing competition from a mail order Hex company, she is forced to take drastic action so that she can support her ailing father. However, this plan goes horribly wrong when a travelling Warlock called Dreadnought Stanton finds out she miscasts a love spell to the richest man in her town so she can secure her family’s well-being. Emily and Stanton have had several run ins previously, and both find each other’s attitudes to magic as polar opposites – as well as their personalities. But Emily and Stanton soon find themselves in deeper trouble. After investigating zombie miners who have gotten loose, Emily, while battling them, somehow gets her hand infused with a mysterious magical stone that was unearthed in the mines.

Stanton — who realises the stone is a Native star and is a source of untempered magic — offers Emily the help to get out of her predicament as she cannot cast spells. But they both find themselves on the run as dark magical groups are after the stone for their own agenda.
I loved the fact that there was a character called Dreadnought Stanton! That name alone for a hero would have perked my interest in a book, and like what the name implies, Dreadnought is a stickler for propriety and is very straight laced which annoys Emily to no end as she is the polar opposite to Stanton.
Emily is more intuitive and casual, and I loved how she would ruffle Stanton’s feathers. When they clash its very fun to see – especially since I am such a romance fan of bickering couples, and when first impressions go wrong. I also think their relationship is a highlight of the book from their very first encounter. They have locked horns because of their views about magic as well as their personalities. Their exchanges were very entertaining, funny and witty which underlined the growing romantic tension between them. I have to quote this scene when they both checked into a hotel, because it really sums up their snarky and humorous relationship:

“Riding on a little farther up the street, they came to a hotel proudly dubbed the Nonpareil. At the polished oak reception desk, Stanton pulled out the small black silk purse Emily had seen before, again withdrawing coins to pay the clerk. He signed the ledger in a jagged angular script: “Mr.Dreadnought Stanton and sister.”
“That’s it? Sister?” Emily limped up the carpeted stairs on legs that had somehow turned to jelly during the course of the day’s ride. “Would it have killed you to come up with a name?”
“I have three sisters, Miss Edwards. I didn’t think you’d appreciate being burdened with any of their names“
“Try me,” Emily said.
“Euphemia, Ophidia, and Hortense.”
Emily wrinkled her nose. “What fool did the naming in your family?”
“My father is the fool in question. He is a man who feels the need to publicly memorialize his esoteric and obsessive passions—passions which have included the later history of Rome, reptiles, eighteenth century Flemish aristocracy, and clipper ships.” Pointing to a door, he handed Emily a key. “Early start in the morning. Downstairs by seven.”
Downstairs by seven, Emily mouthed in a snotty voice as she let herself into her room.

The world-building was so well thought out with each different type of magic having their own rules and precepts which I really liked. It made the premise really well structured but also full of imagination, and I loved how different types of magic would interact with people and the environment.

M.K Hobson also has a great eye for historical detail, from the rich language to the setting. It really felt like I were ensconce in post civil war America, but with magic! There different types of magic, such as the mass produced Hex’s by Bough’s Patent Magicks, which is mail ordered spells and hexes. Then you have the more natural magic that Emily practices which added to the tapestry of different types of magic in the world-building. There were also elements of steampunk, such as a biochemical flying machines which Emily and Stanton use to escape from their enemies that was a very fun and awesome scene.

The Native Star also had a cast of memorable characters who were very well drawn out, from Emily and Stanton’s quirky and eccentric family and friends, to the creepy villains who just added to the rich tone and atmosphere of the book. There were also a few surprises and twists that I did not expect but they helped drive the plot to a great pace and ending in the book.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. For me it’s definitely one of the best debuts I have read this year, and I absolutely adore the characters and the setting. If you are fan of Gail Carriger and Leanna Renee Hieber, then you will enjoy The Native Star as it shares similar elements with these authors books. Emily and Stanton’s romance was a joy to read, and although it had a slow buildup and it may not be as steamy as other romances, their snarky dialogue sparkles off each other and adds to their great chemistry. But for me it was a unique take on Fantasy Romance with engaging, memorable characters, humour and spades of imagination! I cannot wait for the sequel, The Hidden Goddess, which will be released next year. But go and pick up this book! You wont regret it!

http://thebookpushers.com/2010/08/31/the-native-star-by-m-k-hobson/
( )
  Has_bookpusher | Sep 20, 2013 |
I need to find more books like this, because 95% rocked. I'm a history buff and am particularly interested in the whole 1850's to 1900's America era (my latest project takes place in 1852, so naturally I've been reading quite a bit about it in the non-fiction arena. Note to folks: if you want to be able to use all the cool Old West trappings, set your story after 1860, because a lot of that stuff wasn't around in the 1850's) and while I think this still qualifies as Steampunk, it's distinctly American and I rather like that.

I loved Stanton from the moment 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 boogy man to slap on things as mindless, border-line psychotic villians 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. ( )
  TLMorganfield | Sep 4, 2013 |
Opening: "Five loud, hard, sharp crashes. Someone was knocking--no, not knocking, rather pounding at the door of Mr. Everdene Baugh's house on Church Street."

This is a slightly misleading opening, mostly because Mr. Everdene Baugh disappears after the prologue, never to be seen again. Though he begins the story, it is really about Emily Edwards and Dreadnought Stanton. After a series of spectacularly bad decisions and unhappy events, Emily is forced to leave the town she grew up with Mr. Stanton. They end up journeying across the US, from San Francisco to New York, wreaking havoc along the way.

The good old journey story is obviously a key factor here. Our main characters are on a literal physical journey, but also on a personal one. In this case, the final showdown comes after they reach New York, but the journey itself is what sets up the whole thing, both plotwise and in terms of character development.

The central image of the story is the magical stone that becomes part of Emily's hand. I found this somewhat disturbing and creepy, as I think it was meant to be. At the same time, it was a very difficult image for me to grasp somehow. It just never quite made sense, and yet I'm at somewhat of a loss to explain what about it was bothersome.

The main relationship in this story is between Dreadnought and Emily (though her parents, real and foster, are important as well). I found it fulfilling, but not ultimately surprising or particularly original. I had called it from the first time Dreadnought appears. That said, there are times where a predictable romance is fine. And in this case it didn't fall into the instant-attraction theme we're suffering under currently.

All in all, I didn't feel unhappy with the book, but I didn't feel impressed either, and I wanted to be. Once again, it was a book where I felt like the concept was great and the result wasn't quite what I wanted it to be. I'm beginning to think that this genre is just like that for me--the idea will always seem shinier than the execution. In short, I always want to like the steampunky books, and I rarely actually do.

However, if you do like steampunk, I think this would be a fabulous book. It doesn't have the egregious annoyances that you sometimes encounter, and the story and characters are largely fulfilling and enjoyable. It has a nice flavor, with the California mining towns, the two cities, and the journey between them.

Book source: public library
Book information: Ballantine, 2010; adult (there wasn't anything particularly shocking, although there is a fair amount of violence; upper teens might also enjoy it)
Recommended by: The Book Smugglers ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
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Epigraph
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration'; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
Listen! The mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
a sound like thunder - everlastingly.
Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If though appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thous liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
And worship'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.

William Wordsworth
Dedication
For Nora
First words
Five loud, sharp crashes.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The year is 1876. In the small Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pines, 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.

Dreadnaught 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.
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In 1876, witch Emily Edwards is forced to run for her life when an enchanted artifact falls into her possession, and she teams up with a warlock from New York City to unlock the secret of the mysterious artifact.

(summary from another edition)

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M. K. Hobson chatted with LibraryThing members from Aug 30, 2010 to Sep 6, 2010. Read the chat.

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