The Native Star - By M. K. Hobson
The Native Star
“M. K. Hobson dazzles! The Native Star is an awesome mash-up of magic and steam-age technology—call it witchpunk. This debut novel puts a new shine on the Gilded Age.”
—C. C. FINLAY
“Splendid! In The Native Star , M. K. Hobson gives us a Reconstruction-era America, beautifully drawn and filled with the energy of a young nation—and magic! Her heroine, Emily Edwards, is outspoken, brash, loving, and true; a delight to spend time with. Could there be a sequel, please?”
A book is like a pearl. The author supplies the grit in the middle, but it is friends and colleagues who add the thin bright layers that make it shine.
(Following this metaphor through, one might suppose they do this because they find the author and her grit so damned irritating—but let’s leave such hobgoblinish consistency to littler minds, shall we?)
There are many writers who have given freely of their time (and nacre) to help me make this book smooth and fine, including Sara Mueller, David D. Levine, Sandi Gray, Robin Catesby, Jim Fiscus, Douglas Watson, John Bunnell, Denny Bershaw, Simone Cooper, Francine Taylor, George Walker, and the late Chris Bunch. To these comrades-in-arms, I offer my humble thanks.
Thanks as well to my fierce and fabulous agent, Ginger Clark, who contributed at least three layers of opalescence before she even took me on as a client. Thanks to the splendid Juliet Ulman (who picked up the book) and the creative team at Spectra (who ran with it): my brilliant editor, Anne Groell, copy editor Faren Bachelis, David Pomerico, and everyone else whose names I either don’t know, can’t spell, or am afraid to say three times out loud.
Additionally, I am deeply grateful to the kindred spirits who have bolstered my sanity or encouraged my insanity at critical moments: Douglas Lain, Ellen Datlow, Shawna McCarthy, Jessica Reisman, A. M. Dellamonica, Camille Alexa, Heidi Lampietti (and Kiri), Madeleine Robins, Nancy Jane Moore, Serge Maillioux, Karen Berry, and the entire graduating class of Clarion West 2005.
And finally, of course, thanks to my family: Dan and Nora, Mom and Dad, Rachel and Albert. It’s from them that I got the grit to begin with.
Chapter One - Ashes of Amour
Chapter Two - The Corpse Switch
Chapter Three - The Rule of Three
Chapter Four - The Flight of the Guilty
Chapter Five - The Aberrancy
Chapter Six - Lawa
Chapter Seven - San Francisco
Chapter Eight - A Man Calls
Chapter Nine - Mason Street
Chapter Ten - Basket of Secrets
Chapter Eleven - The Wages of Sin
Chapter Twelve - Hemacolludinatious
Chapter Thirteen - Mother Roscoe’s Eye-Opener
Chapter Fourteen - The Aberrancy Hunters
Chapter Fifteen - Ososolyeh
Chapter Sixteen - Rose’s Thorns
Chapter Seventeen - The Cockatrice
Chapter Eighteen - The Cynic Mirror
Chapter Nineteen - Senator Stanton
Chapter Twenty - The Otherwhere Marble
Chapter Twenty-One - Hidden Knives
Chapter Twenty-Two - Cupid’s Bludgeon
Chapter Twenty-Three - The Skycladdische and the Sangrimancer
Chapter Twenty-Four - The Grand Symposium
Chapter Twenty-Five - Blood and Bile
Chapter Twenty-Six - Skycladdische’s Revenge
Chapter Twenty-Seven - Heavy Weather
Chapter Twenty-Eight - The Man Who Saved Magic
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquillity;
The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the Sea:
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder—everlastingly.
Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year;
And worship’st at the Temple’s inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.
Charleston, South Carolina
July 15, 1865
Five loud, hard, sharp crashes. Someone was knocking—no, not knocking, rather pounding—at the door of Mr. Everdene Baugh’s house on Church Street.
It was well past midnight. A violent tempest of bird-shot rain and screaming wind—the biggest storm to hit Charleston in a decade—was raging outside. Anarchy and insolence, Baugh fumed as he fumbled his way down the dark, narrow stairs, wool-stockinged feet sliding on bare wood. Every day he was unpleasantly surprised at how much closer to savagery the world had drifted.
Baugh threw open his door with the intention of telling the pounders to go to Hell and exactly how to get there. But when he saw that it was a detachment of Union soldiers on his doorstep, their rifles gleaming, the words froze in his mouth. Before the soldiers stood a hulking officer with dripping muttonchops, who seemed hardly to notice the rain sluicing down on him from the broken gutters above.
“Captain John Caul,” the man introduced himself curtly, not bothering to touch the brim of