Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Native Star - M.K. Hobson

About the book

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.

387 pages
Published on: August 31, 2010
Published by: Spectra


I’ve been into “weird west” books recently. Weird west is different than what I usually read, and the difference really appeals to me. I’ve read two western themed books before The Native Star and I enjoyed both. While I was aware that The Native Star had a bit of romance in it, I decided to give it a shot and see how I liked it. It seems like most people enjoyed this book. I think I missed that boat.

The Native Star opens with a scene which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the book. Our protagonist, hedge witch Emily Edwards, in an attempt to make her adopted father’s life easier, decides to cast a love spell on a well-to-do man who lives in her town. She overdoes the spell, thus setting the stage for the rest of the book.

I must admit, this opening scene caused me to roll my eyes a bit. Our dear Emily Edwards is the very definition of cliché. She’s different than everyone else, which makes her feel lonely and isolated. She has a mysterious past which is never fully uncovered but hints to greatness, and somehow, through her own naiveté, stumbles into a problem much bigger than anything she can handle, thus forcing her to embark on an adventure grander than her wildest imaginings. Of course, Ms. Edwards wants nothing more than to return to her small-town Nevada abode, which, after all the mistakes she’s made, she knows she’ll never be able to do. Cue tears.

I’m sure you can guess that, through this adventure, Ms. Edwards decides that her real love-interest is the very man, surly and cold though he is, that she is stuck with on her cross country journey. I usually wouldn’t put something like that in a review, in fears of adding spoilers, but seriously, people, how much of what I’ve said so far haven’t you already guessed?

That’s the real problem with The Native Star. It’s so completely predictable. Set in a cozy-yet-different western location, with an incredibly charming magic system, some steampunk elements and a character who, despite all my qualms, has a charming innocence about her – it is the sheer predictability that really affects the book the most. The issue here is that the only real differences between The Native Star and plenty of other mediocre romance books out there are the things I listed above, the setting and magic system, and that’s just not enough to make the book float.

The Native Star is an excellent piece of fluff, which, despite all its issues, has a fast paced plot that makes it a real page-turner (though aspects of the plot had a haphazard, nonsensical feel to them). This is a book that requires little to no thought and works well for individuals looking for something to read with a side of popcorn. You could read all the words, or skim the pages and glean just as much from them. That sounds like a bad thing, but it’s really not. I read The Native Star on a day where I needed a break from thought and reality and this book fit the bill. It gave my brain a much-needed vacation and I'm honestly not sorry I read it.

See, there are times that fluff can work in a book’s favor.

The Native Star is the first book in a series and honestly, I doubt I’ll continue with it. I don’t see the point. The Native Star is a romance dressed up in fantasy clothes, which is unfortunate. The romance smothers all the gems this book holds so much so that they are almost completely overlooked. Hobson has a way with words, and the plot is tight and fast paced, the setting is unique and the magic system is interesting. If this book had focused more on the magic and adventure and less on the romance and the lonely-backwoods-girl-fated-for-something-more plot it would have really shined. As it is, I feel like The Native Star is a missed opportunity. Hobson had all the right ingredients to make this book shine and stand out from the crowd, but instead decided to go cookie-cutter and The Native Star pays for it.

2/5 stars

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