In 1876, fancy mail order magic is driving out homespun magic, the kind Emily Edwards practices. As her and her father’s situation gets more and more desperate, she decides to snare a wealthy husband with a love spell. Her efforts, though meant well, completely backfire, and soon she finds herself racing across the country with Dreadnought Stanton, a snobbish warlock from New York City, on a frantic effort to reach the centre of the warlock’s world before it’s too late.
This was a great book in so many different ways. I love the setting – like other reviewers before me have said, it’s that wild west meets magic that is surprisingly appealing. It reminds me of Firefly in a way, both set in a world full of cowboys but with added twists to make them fresh and new. Here we have not only magic but echoes of steampunk and a few other bits and pieces.
Hobson’s ideas about magic are different from anything I’ve personally read, but the contrast is so apt for the time period when the mass catalogues started going out and people began to crave something other than homespun, homemade goods. This is a few years before that started to happen in real life, but it has that feel about it of the new pushing out the old, and the old struggling to survive in any way possible. The magic system develops very much along the course of the book, with new discoveries coming rapidly. It’s obvious that Hobson has a lot of ideas and I’m really looking forward to her fleshing this version of our world out more. The end of the book hints at a sequel and I am crossing my fingers that this is true, because I would definitely like to spend more time here.
And then, of course, there is a fantastic romance, and I can’t spoil that for anyone as it’s right on the back cover. Plus, tension sparks between Emily and Dreadnought almost immediately, and I think it would be difficult to miss their eventual romance from the opening chapters of the book. It’s a well done romance, too, without getting at all in the way of the plot. Instead it feels natural, inspired by the tension they’re both experiencing and the chemistry that springs up between them. There are very few types of novels that I like better than a good fantasy with a side romance, so needless to say this book ticked all of those boxes for me.
The Native Star is a solid satisfying indulgence of a read, well worth the time for anyone who likes fantasy or romance. And it was a nominee for the Nebula award this year, which is a third-party agreement of this book’s excellence.
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