Covered in dog hair, Obsessed with books, Wondering what it's all about. I suspect the answer is ice cream and the ocean.
Format: Audio (from Audible.com)
Narrated By: Suehyla El-Attar
Original Publication Year: 2011
Series: Veneficas Americana #2
I read a blog post(Savidge Reads)a few months back that posited that the most important reason for writing a book blog is a passion for spreading the word about really awesome books. I like this idea and it certainly drives some of my book posts but this is the first book where I want to consciously promote a series of books and spread the love I have for them. I really enjoyed book one in this series, The Native Star, and it was nominated for a Nebula Award in 2011. In the middle of devouring this 2nd installment, I looked greedily to see if there was a book three. I was surprised to see that there was and it was self-published with the help of a Kickstarter campaign (the first two of the series were published by Spectra). I haven’t really been able to find the why of this – perhaps it was just something M.K. Hobson wanted to do – but regardless of the reason I feel it necessary to make sure at least one more word about how awesome these books are gets out into the ether.
The story takes place in the latter part of the 19th century in an America similar to our own except that magic is an accepted part of society. In The Native Star, rural California witch Emily Edwards is forced to travel cross country with academy trained warlock Dreadnought Stanton. It’s a grand adventure which ends with the rescue of the earth’s soul from blood magicians, Dreadnought being appointed as head of his field of magic and an engagement between he and Emily.
The Hidden Goddess opens with Emily feeling stifled and bored as she tries to adjust to life as a New York socialite. She hasn’t even had much of a chance to spend time with Stanton as his new responsibilities as head of the institute keep him constantly busy. And then she has a disturbing vision which urges her to go back to her California home where her Pap gives her a jar full of her youngest memories and a warning that her mother was evil hence the bottled memories. From this point on Emily begins to have visions of a coming apocalypse and develops the certain knowledge that she, as her family before her, must play a crucial part in stopping it. Meanwhile, Stanton is struggling to hold on to his professional position as things start to fall apart around him. As Emily learns more about him on his home turf she begins to question how much she really knows and can trust him.
This all sounds very dire and it is - there is lots of adventure and drama and fountaining blood (squeamish beware – it is a rather gory book) but it is saved from being overly wrought by the steadfast and awesome characters and Hobson’s fantastic sense of humor. It is chock full of clever wit and is, at times, laugh out loud funny. Hobson has the knack of achieving just the right mix of humor and pathos to make the drama very personal feeling. She fits so much into the book…a complex and fast paced story, a feminist message, a conservation message…effortlessly and in a way that completely absorbed me and never made me feel like I was getting preached at.
Two of the biggest strengths are the characters and the elaborate and fascinating system of magic. Emily Edwards is a character I will miss dearly. She’s practical and independent, loyal and clever, and most importantly down-to-earth. She is the perfect heroine, not in the sense that she’s perfect but in the sense that she is someone I would love to hang out and play cards with. There would undoubtedly be lots of laughter and likely some kind of small disaster.
The magic system is one of the most interesting I’ve encountered and is very organic, literally. Learning the rules behind it is actually really interesting and ends up being one of the best reasons to read the book. The idea of Credomancy is explored more in this book and a wonderful new character is introduced, Miss Jizenka (sp?), who helps flesh out all the fascinating intrigues that make this magic system work.
That’s all the specifics and I’m not sure I’ve really sold it. So let me finally say that I could not put this book down. I was listening to it on my ipod and I kept inventing house work to do so I could listen some more. Let me say that again: I was inventing housework so that I could spend more time with this book. That is probably ‘nuf said but I’ll end with this: it is so much fun, the writing is fantastic and it won’t cause any brain rot either. It also has a lovely and very satisfying ending. So, if you like books that blend genres (Alt-History, Fantasy, Romance), great characters, and seamless world building you MUST read this series! I cannot wait to jump into book three!
So has who else has read this series? What do you love or hate about it?