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The Native Star

(Veneficas Americana #1)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  3,665 ratings  ·  511 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. Atte
Paperback, 387 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Spectra Books
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  3,665 ratings  ·  511 reviews

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May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Emily May by: Tatiana
Shelves: 2012, fantasy

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
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
May 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Megan Baxter
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Native Star is set in 19th century America, an America which is vaguely steampunky, but much more magical. Both sides in the Civil War used magic, which is presently divided into three schools: animancy (that may not be right, but it's close), traditional magic using herbs and things from the earth. Credomancy, which uses belief in magic and its abilities to power said abilities. And sangrimancy, blood magic.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads
Oct 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
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.
Aug 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, adventure
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
Dec 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was another one of my series-sampling audio listens, to see if I might want to pursue it in print someday.

Audio Narration
The narrator is Suehyla El-Attar. I liked her pretty well. Her narration was easy to listen to and didn’t annoy me. I did think the voices she used for the male characters were difficult to distinguish between at times, but then there were quite a lot of male characters popping up for brief passages. The text made it pretty easy to realize who was talking anyway, and I wa
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it

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
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!! ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. I think I like the concept of this story more than the book itself. It's a story somewhere between fantasy and steampunk set in the United States.

Perhaps the best part of the book is the magical world created by the author. There are some well-known ideas in here, however, presented in a new, interesting way. Everything blends into a new fascinating whole world. Different magic systems coexist in one world. But I may not have read this book careful enough b
Lost Planet Airman
Fun. 1876 wild West with magic and a star-crossed (heh) protagonist pair. The magic system got a little complex for an easy audio read, so it might be better as a visual read, eyes vs. words.
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: western, fantasy, sci-fi
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
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
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
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
Stephanie Swint
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly good. I downloaded the second immediately. So far not that impressed with it, but the first was good YA. Review coming soon...
Erica (storybookend)
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
Sep 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Althea Ann
May 13, 2011 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book, but I felt like I was enjoying it in spite of myself.
It was so, so, so like Cherie Priest's Dreadnought (& Boneshaker) in tone, plot elements and setting that I could almost have believed it was a new book from Priest - except that I don't think she'd use such a trite romance as a driving plot device. (I really dislike the whole romance trope of "I hate you - but wait, that means I'm actually in love with you!" People just don't work like that.)
It also, several times
Maggie K
Apr 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
So I finally finished this, and am really even more annoyed than I thought I would be. I thought about giving up about half way through, but figured I paid for the dang book, I really should finish it.
So now I not only wasted the $7.99 but I also wasted some valuable reading hours.
It had a pretty decent magic system, which was kind of fooling me for a bit there, but there really isnt anything that can cover up unlikeable protaganists and a sketchy plot. You know it's bad when they are all at th
Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
I liked the setting and the timeframe, and for the most part I enjoyed the prickly, pragmatic heroine. The overall concept of the three schools of magic was also great.

The first half of the book hummed along fairly well, but after that the story started to feel hectic and messy. My biggest disappointment was that by the end, the character-driven drama got a little lost in a soup of gadgets, magical terminology, and last-minute antagonists.
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M.K. Hobson recently decided to follow a time-honored authorial tradition and become a bitter recluse. She swore off all social media and left her website to go to seed. At the moment, she exists only as a voice on short fiction podcasts such as Podcastle and Cast of Wonders. She leavens the tedium of her vastly expanded free time with misanthropy, paranoia, and weight lifting.

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)

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