cover image The Native Star

The Native Star

M.K. Hobson, Bantam Spectra, $7.99 mass market (387p) ISBN 9780553592658

Clever and original, Hobson's splendid debut is a colorful journey through Reconstruction-era America. Young country witch Emily Edwards battles a horde of zombies and winds up with a mysterious magical stone embedded in her hand. Escorted by the academically-trained warlock Dreadnought Stanton, who is afflicted with a magical disease and a very superior attitude, Emily reluctantly sets out to meet with warlocks from the Mirabilis Institute in hopes of getting the stone removed. Betrayal sends Emily and Dreadnought fleeing on a rollicking cross-country trip, with military blood-warlock and torturer Captain Caul in hot pursuit and the fate of all magic at stake. Clever techno-magical artifacts with steampunk flair, evil Aberrancies, and a unique tripartite magical system provide a colorful backdrop to the politics of the warlocks, the secrets of the stone, and the mystery of Emily's past. The growing attraction of Emily and Dreadnought is convincingly portrayed, while Caul's willingness to commit evil act in the service of patriotism makes a timely political point without belaboring the issue. The story is complete in and of itself and will leave readers eagerly awaiting the sequel. (Sept.)