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. Attempting to solve her problem with a love spell, Emily only makes things worse. But before she can undo the damage, an enchanted artifact falls into her possession—and suddenly Emily must flee for her life, pursued by evil warlocks who want the object for themselves.
Dreadnought Stanton, a warlock from New York City whose personality is as pompous and abrasive as his name, has been exiled to Lost Pine for mysterious reasons. Now he finds himself involuntarily allied with Emily in a race against time—and across the United States by horse, train, and biomechanical flying machine—in quest of the great Professor Mirabilis, who alone can unlock the secret of the coveted artifact. But along the way, Emily and Stanton will be forced to contend with the most powerful and unpredictable magic of all—the magic of the human heart. (via Goodreads)
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 great character to get to know – not perfect and not fully formed. She had a lot of growth throughout the novel, and that is something I always enjoy reading. Actually, all the characters had layers, especially Dreadnought (unfortunate name that somehow fits him anyway). Although he gives you plenty of reasons to hate him at the beginning of the story, I could never quite pull it off. And as things progress, his background and personality come out and make him very complicated and real…I loved him by the end. He is not your typical hero.
The world that unfolds throughout the novel is an intriguing one, I loved every aspect of it. Same goes with the plot – there was a lot of action and a lot of intensity. The few breaks from the action give the characters a chance to interact – there was never any point where I was bored with the story.
Another thing I love is that things more or less wrap up at the end of the book. It is the beginning of the series, so a new conflict is referred to at the end…but the main plot of this story is wrapped up. If you aren’t intrigued enough with the book to continue with the next one, you’ll get a fulfilling ending. I, however, can’t imagine reading this and not wanting to continue the series! I fell in love with the characters and their world, and am now anxiously awaiting the sequel, The Hidden Goddess.