The Native Star, by M.K. Hobson—being an enthusiastic review with minor spoilers
This is a gem of a novel, faceted and full of fascinating world building. The characters all live on and off the page, pig-headed, brave, and as loud with inner life as the earth of Hobson’s alternate age of industry America is with magic. There are biomechanical flying Cockatrices, magic gone wrong creates a mutant raccoon and zombies, and there's Credomancy—an entirely awesome school of magic that runs on belief. It’s a great ride, and Hobson’s sure handling of everything from magic’s class system, economies, and technologies to the course of rocky true love keeps it effortlessly engaging.
While Miss Penelope Pendennis, trade union representative for the Witches’ Friendly Society, is easily one of my favorite secondary characters ever, the book bursts with a lively supporting cast, from a Miwok holy woman and a revolutionary farmer to slick, politically minded warlocks and a secret society called the Sini Mira.
The machines of industry run on magic in this alternate America, and there are enough serious players with their own complex agendas ranged against our heroes Emily Edwards and Dreadnought Stanton (Best. Name. Ever.) to make me excited for The Native Star’s sequel, The Hidden Goddess.
If you need a taste, or if the book isn't on the shelf at your local bookstore today, you can read the first chapter here.