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The Native Star (Veneficas Americana #1)

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  2,653 ratings  ·  435 reviews
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.
Paperback, 387 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Spectra Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Soulless by Gail CarrigerLeviathan by Scott WesterfeldBoneshaker by Cherie PriestPerdido Street Station by China MiévilleThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 02, 2011 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking for an adventure filled with romance and magic in a historical setting
Recommended to Tatiana by: Jillian -always aspiring-
The Native Star is for me what (I assume) Soulless was for many of my dear Goodreads friends - a romance wrapped up in a steampunky adventure. I thought Soulless was a trite fanfic stuffed with ripping bodices and an occasional gadget or two, but The Native Star, IMO, is the real deal, a well thought-out and original alternative universe romp.

The story takes place in 1870s AU America. In this America witches and warlocks stopped being persecuted and now are a legitimate strata of the American s
I get ridiculously animated when I am excited about books and boy, you should’ve seen me explaining this book to people I encountered in real life who asked me what I was reading. “There’s this woman who lives in backwoods California in the late 1800s but in, like, a slightly different universe with all sorts of magic. So she and her pa, who isn’t really related to her, are the local witch and warlock who create hexes and spells for people and their business is in trouble from a mail order compa ...more
Emily May
Jun 04, 2012 Emily May rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Emily May by: Tatiana
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk, 2012

The goodreads and Amazon descriptions for The Native Star promise so many elements that it's hard to believe the novel could possibly deliver them all successfully: historical fiction, fantasy and magic, steampunk, western, and romance. And yet, this book is one of the rare cases when an idea that crosses so many genres and brings in many different aspects actually works well.

Emily Edwards is the local witch in a small town in California. The year is 1876, but this isn't quite the past that his
This book is really tough for me to review.

Let's start with this: the world was fabulous. It was unique and fascinating. Flavors of steampunk, and the varieties of magic were cool. So this author gets an A for world-building.

Now let's chat about everything else. First and foremost:

What the fuck is going on in this book?

It is strange to reach the end of a book and feel like you understand less about what is going on than you did in the first couple of chapters. I think that the combination of the
mark monday
EH? EH! i tried to like this one, i really did. but after the sorta well-done and atmospheric prologue, it became so increasingly aggravating that my eyes felt almost fixed in their rolled-upwards position. i gave up on page 210. the magic in this alternate version of the western is rather interesting - particularly the idea of credomancy. but everything else... Dear God, make it stop! an insufferable heroine who is chock-full of uninteresting motivations and corny pluck, who one minute spits ou ...more
Oct 15, 2011 Catie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Catie by: Flannery, Tatiana
3 1/2 stars

This is an absolutely enjoyable ride that will appeal to fans of urban fantasy or maybe even historical romance. It is best described as an alternate history, western, magical and mystical steampunk romance with a side order of zombies. Initially that made me almost overcome with excitement, like a kid given free rein* of the pic n’ mix aisle. Imagine all the possibilities…all that sugary goodness, in endless varieties, and mixed together!! I’ll take one of these and one of those and
Jun 27, 2013 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: blog
Take a pinch of the Wild West, a dollop of whimsy, just a dash of romance, and a heaping helping of magic and you apparently get a helluva good time!

On the surface, The Native Star is fairly formulaic. There's the Austen-esque dynamic of the stubborn and headstrong (but always proper beneath it all) woman who finds herself at odds with a pompous and equally headstrong jerk (who remains, fundamentally, a gentleman beneath it all). I have to admit that I'm a sucker for this dynamic because nothing
Emily is a simple, marginally-educated country witch struggling to make a living in a world that is in the process of shifting to more modern, mass-produced magics. When she investigates a problem with zombie miners and ends up with the mysterious stone in her hand, sorcerer Dreadnaught Stanton (yes, really. Practically everyone but Emily has ridiculous names) persuades her to accompany him to San Francisco to consult specialists there. But even once they've survived Indians and Abberancies to r ...more
When I first heard about The Native Star, I expected it to be an epic fantasy tale in the sweeping style of the Lord of the Rings, or the Wheel of Time. Oh boy, was I in for a surpise! It's like setting out to watch The Last Airbender and instead ending up at a screening of A Knight's Tale.

Jillian's review first inspired me to pick this book up. I read the review, I read the blurb, I got excited. However, I was still expecting it to be a weighty tome, along the lines of "thou shalt fulfill thy
Oct 17, 2011 Jo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: e

Much to my granddad’s disgust, Westerns aren’t usually my thing. I think in my life I’ve seen two Westerns.
Fieval Goes West and Back to the Future 3.
Told you.
Not my thing.
But, I tell you, if this book was made into a film (with Adrien Brody as Dreadnought, naturally) I would be the first in line… riding a horse and pretending I was a witch and wearing lovely lacey gloves.

When the lovely Flannery suggested a readalong for this book I was a bit dubious. I wasn’t a massive fan of Ms Carrige
Gail Carriger
Review pertains to an uncorrected galley given me to blurb by the editor.

A delightful Gaslight Fantasy romp set slightly later in time than The Parasol Protectorate series and in, as you may have gathered, the heathen Americas. It features parochial upstart witch, Emily Edwards, and the deliciously named Dreadnaught Stanton.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It took me a little while to get into it and I had a few problems with info-dumps, but it takes A LOT for me to even finish a book these days.
I really loved this book! It was a Steam-Punk=Fantasy-Western-Romance hybrid, don't see every day? haha. I really liked the characters, the magic system was quite interesting and the romance didn't make me roll my eyes, it was actually sweet. HIGHLY recommended!!
I like Westerns, magic, and romance very much… so why didn’t this book do it for me? I’ve been mulling over my lack of enthusiasm for a little bit, and I think it mostly comes down to poor characters. They behaved in ways that struck me as super convenient, clichéd, and/or unrealistic.

I found Emily Edwards, the heroine, very tiresome – her and her foolish assumptions and pointless tirades and confrontations. I liked her imperfections at the beginning because I thought they were actually imperfe
Allison (The Allure of Books)
I picked up this book after seeing it reviewed at The Book Smugglers. The historical fantasy/romance mix has always been one I enjoy - and this novel was certainly no exception. In fact, it might be my new favorite historical fantasy novel. The mixture of great characterization, world-building an plot make it practically perfect in every way.

I was intrigued from the beginning - the prologue threw me a little, but once the main storyline started with Emily in Lost Pine, I was hooked. She was a g
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.

I am a “character oriented” kind of girl, to the point where, given witty dialog or a relationship I care about, a story’s premise is entirely irrelevant to my enjoyment (case in point, Aaron Sorkin’s “Sports Night”. What on earth do I care about sports TV? Handsome men with witty dialog? Yes, please.). Given my proclivities, imagine my surprise when I found myself ranking the world building in THE NATIVE STAR right along side my interest in the hero a
Erica (daydreamer)
The Native Star is a breathless, intriguing adventure that drew me in utterly with its magical allure, and historical appeal. It shone to me so brightly, shining brilliant radiance into my mind and soul, pulling me straight into this old western tale, suffused with old as time magic. Hobson expertly crafted a truly enlightening tale, weaving history and science and the old west with intrigue and magic and a dash of romance. I am truly astounded with how amazingly well this story was told and plo ...more
Here’s something I haven’t had for a while: A GOOD BOOK! Amazing, huh? I just had this burning need to read this after glancing over at so many positive reviews and with my current reads not ending up so great, the urge built up more.

This book rocked my socks. I love how feisty the main character, Emily, is. She totally doesn’t sit back like a weak, passive protagonist. She speaks up and quite plainly too. Emily might panic but she keeps her head together and is always trying to find a solution
The Native Star is a fantasy set in a West that never quite was: the West of tall tales, dime novels, and cheesy patent-medicine ads. M.K. Hobson realizes this mood perfectly, peoples the setting with memorable characters, and spins a compelling and well-thought-out plot.

When we first meet the heroine, Emily Edwards, she’s preparing a love spell to ensnare a local lumberman. The new patent-magic companies have cut into Emily’s business as a witch, and she can see no other way but marriage to kee
Katrina Passick Lumsden
It's been over 24 hours since I finished reading Native Star...and I have no idea what to say. It, I just don't know. Perhaps if I use enough ellipses, the words will come to me...

Nope, nothin' doin'. I didn't really like this book, but gave it two stars because it really is just OK. What would have made it better? Well, a little less condescending hatred of science would have been nice. Oh, and a decent female protagonist. This has proven to be, by far, my biggest personal hurdle in r
Aug 30, 2012 Heidi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Heidi by: Flannery
3.5 Stars.

You know that expression “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”? Yeah…whoever first said it was obviously trying to make themselves feel better about that awesome road trip they had on the way to stay with their boring Aunt Mildred for the summer. Because honestly, when it comes to reading, I like both the destination and the journey to rock my socks off. I want the payoff, and I can’t help but feeling that while I enjoyed the lead up in M.K. Hobson’s The Native Star very much, I
So steampunk, huh?

I've heard there are better examples of the sub-genre than MK Hobson's The Native Star but as its my first time venturing into the unknown, I suppose its better I am gently eased into it, rather than thrown right in. The idea of steampunk never really interested me. I think I developed quite an aversion to it actually. I like old school magic, and the concept of merging that with innovative gadgetry was just a turn off.

But I liked it, relatively speaking. The plot is straight
joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire*
brilliant, engaging, and wryly humorous

consider the following examples --

our plucky hero and heroine enter a gambling house, to find it is more upscale than anticipated

there were "a variety of men at the bar who seemed, if not complete gentlemen, men to whom behaving gentlemanly at least remained an option."

"his long fingers were tearing apart a pinecone in a way that seemed to indicate a personal grudge against conifers"

*rapid-fire dialogue and observation made me smile on nearly every p
Kelli Lee
Jan 16, 2011 Kelli Lee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Urban Fantasy fans looking for something different and everyone else!
Recommended to Kelli by: myself
Simply stated, I adore The Native Star.

Personally, I detest anything wild, wild west, yet M.K. Hobson somehow managed to draw me into this era with such ease. Aside from the western era, this book has it all (sounds like Stefon from SNL recommending a NYC club): magic, adventure, human fire hydrant people, Teddy Graham people (Just joshing, or am I; you'll have to read for yourself), whimsical romance, steampunk; the author even throws in reality is what you make it mumbo-jumbo, which to some i
I feel about steampunk the way Justice Stewart famously felt about pornography: I can’t tell you categorically what it is, but I know it when I see it.

And this ain’t it, aside from the gratuitous insectile flying machine. Wrong esthetic, wrong – oh, whatever, I just know what it isn’t.

But putting aside a marketing attempt to profit off a fad, this was pretty good. Alt history nineteenth century California with magic. Young woman narrator makes mistakes and learns from them, gets tangled up in wo
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±

When a book is compared to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, I expect not just an alt-history with magic, but a lushness of prose and ambiance - which I didn't quite find here.

I was also thrown, a bit, by the description referring to it as a tale of the Wild, Wild West - which, for me, conjures images of dusty towns and tumbleweeds and saloons and gunfights more than a small, rural town in the frontier somewhere. But that's more on me than the book.

But while what I got wasn't quite what I w
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
Steph Su
THE NATIVE STAR, M.K. Hobson’s debut novel, is an original blend of witchery and the Wild, Wild West. It didn’t leave a particularly long-lasting impression on me, but was definitely an enjoyable and well-written romp of a read.

For me, the strength of THE NATIVE STAR lay in its inventiveness. Just when I thought I had Emily and Stanton’s world figured out, Hobson throws in another twist and element that takes me by surprise and forces me to reorganize my thoughts about the story’s world. The boo
Nov 28, 2012 Eric rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of weird west steam-punk tales
Recommended to Eric by: Nicole Evans
Shelves: book-club, steam-punk
The broad premise of this novel -- a young and naive protagonist pulled from a simple life into a whirlwind adventure traversing the continent, climaxing in a confrontation with an abhorrent antagonist -- is not groundbreaking or original in any way, but honestly, not every book needs to be. Sometimes an interesting version of a well-worn story can be literature's comfort food. And with the interesting elements in this book including a steam-punk weird west varnish, an interesting (if not airtig ...more
Sherwood Smith
Sep 01, 2010 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: fantasy
I ripped through this novel in a day, sneaking back to it every chance I could get.

Emily Edwards is a Witch, actually pretty much of a hedge witch, in a just-past-Civil War frontier town of Lone Pine, one universe over from our own. Desperate to save her old Pap and herself from starvation, she overcomes her better judgment to cast a love spell on a man who is decent, kind, successful, and strong.

But . . . right after she does it, an irritating Warlock named Dreadnought Stanton appears and scold
Missy Ann
Woo boy! Where to start? I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. I finished the first chapter before I knew what hit me. It was an absolutely brilliant beginning, it sucked me right into Hobson's 19th century America and made me hungry for more.

And she delivered. Some of the finest world building I've read this year. Quite possibly top 10 ever. Hobson is referring to this as "bustlepunk" I can't tell the difference between this and Steampunk and I really don't care, I think defining dif
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M.K. Hobson is one of the co-hosts of the short fantasy fiction podcast Podcastle and lives in Oregon City, Oregon with her husband and daughter. Born in California, she was raised in Portland, Oregon. She attended the University of Oregon, where she ran Catalyst Films (the campus film society), helped launch The Student Insurgent (a radical progressive 'zine that's still being published) and drov ...more
More about M.K. Hobson...

Other Books in the Series

Veneficas Americana (4 books)
  • The Hidden Goddess (Veneficas Americana, #2)
  • The Warlock's Curse (Veneficas Americana, #3)
  • The Unsteady Earth (Veneficas Americana #4)
The Hidden Goddess (Veneficas Americana, #2) The Warlock's Curse (Veneficas Americana, #3) The Unsteady Earth (Veneficas Americana #4) The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2011 Edition Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal  and Romance

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