The Native Star
M. K. Hobson
Bantam, Aug 31 2010, $7.99
In 1876 in Lost Pines high in the Sierras Mountains local witch Emily Edwards struggles with a failing business as technology has changed and her neighbors mo longer purchase spells from her as they can mail order them. She decides to cast a love spell to catch a man she has adored since she was a child. She mouths the rhyme while dancing nude and applying lavender.
However, success proves a failure as she has her man adoring her, but she realizes it is not the real thing. Making her feel worse about her error is the exiled wizard from the East Coast Dreadnought Stanton who snottily enjoys telling her she is a snafu. However, Emily has a bigger issue to contend with as minors are turning into hungry berserker zombies and raccoons as large as whales due to ill advised magic appear. Finally, after finding an artifact Emily eludes witch hunters, mindless assassins and evil blood sorcerers. She figures if she flees California for New York, all will be right in her out of balanced world; Dreadnought accompanies her.
This is an entertaining alternate historical fantasy as M.K. Hobson does a great job setting up a United States in which the government uses magic to enhance national patriotism and magic can be bought through the mail. The story line is fun as Emily struggles to undo her error while Dreadnought smirks at her until both are running, riding, and railing for their lives. Sub-genre fans will appreciate The Native Star as alternate Reconstruction Era America comes vividly alive.