My rating: 4 of 5 stars
With the notable huge, huge exception of Cherie Priest, steampunk is not my thing. This is not to say I dislike it–it’s just that as sub-genres of SF/F go, I don’t favor this one in particular over any other, and won’t go out of my way to read something just because it’s got the steampunk label slapped on it. If on the other hand the story sounds like it’ll engage me anyway, then if it happens to be set in a steampunk-flavored world, awesome!
Which is about what happened when I decided to read M.K. Hobson’s The Native Star. Magic is much more the emphasis here than steampunk gadgetry per se, but Hobson has both of them in this book and combines them to charming effect. Charming, too, were both of the main characters. Our heroine Emily Edwards starts off strong but clearly flawed, making a seriously ill-advised attempt to use her magic to land herself a husband in the name of taking care of her aging father, and getting herself thrown out of town in the process. Squared off against her is our hero Dreadnought Stanton, whose name is as overblown as his initial personality. Yet, as he and Emily must flee across the country with evil warlocks in pursuit, the two of them have crackling good chemistry, and I was happy to cheer them all the way.
I didn’t quite buy the villains a hundred percent; there were parts of the story where they were coming across as Evil Because They’re Supposed To Be Evil For the Sake of the Plot. But that said, the ending had some genuine weight and cost to our protagonists, which I appreciated as well. I’ll be continuing on with Book Two. Four stars.