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The Hidden Goddess by M.K. Hobson
Cover Artist: David Steveenson, based on a photograph Herman Estevez (woman)
Review by Cathy Green
Spectra Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553592665
Date: 26 April 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

When last we saw our heroine Emily Edwards, she had defeated the evil conspiracy of sangrimancers and other practitioners of magic with the help of the Earth Goddess Ososolyeh (and Dreadnaught Stanton) to poison the earth (see The Native Star, reviewed in July 2011), losing her hand in the process. She also became engaged to Stanton. The sequel, The Hidden Goddess, starts with Emily facing an even scarier threat--her future in-laws and New York City high society.

Hobson opens the novel with a prologue that introduces the new threat--an Aztec goddess allied with sangrimancers who wants to destroy/remake the world in order to be reunited with her one true love, her former high priest, killed by the conquistadors. The Hidden Goddess then shifts to the Stanton drawing room where Emily is trying to cope with corsets, the heat, and her future sister-in-law's dreadful reading of Wordsworth. Stanton, meanwhile, is preoccupied with the preparations for and politics of his investment as Sophos of the Institute and not paying as much attention as he should to Emily. He has, however, provided Emily with a suitable chaperone in Miss Jesczenka, a high ranking teacher at the Institute and thus a formidable credomancer in her own right.

Stanton's investment does not go as planned, and Emily and Miss Jesczenka are forced to take refuge with Stanton's family. Emily also learns more about her own family. On a quick trip back to California via the Institute's magic cabinets, her adoptive father informed her that he had removed all her early memories via a magic technique called Lethe Draught because her mother was an evil woman. He gives Emily the draught so she can decide whether she wants her memory back or not. Discovering that she is still being pursued by the Sina Mira, Emily decides she needs to know everything. This leads to some interesting and unfortunate discoveries about her biological family. Via Miss Jesczenka and Emily, Stanton and the Institute are restored to full strength because of some good press leading to the general public's belief in the rightness of Stanton's position and Emily's place in his life.

Not that this gives Emily and Stanton any time to relax and enjoy things, as the Sina Mira is plotting to end magic in order to protect the spirit of the earth and the sangrimancers have allied themselves with the Black Glass Goddess in order to remake the world in a different and even more unpleasant manner. Ultimately all the parties come together for a dramatic confrontation in the Temple of the Black Obsidian Goddess and the book comes to a satisfying conclusion.

The Hidden Goddess is a fun fast-paced sequel to THE NATIVE STAR and builds nicely on the plot threads established in the first book. Hobson does a great job playing out what a battle between credomancers would look like. The book is also full of fun magical elements such as Hallenback cabinets for near instantaneous transportation, Faery writing, reincarnation, and people's spirits being housed in plants. Gender roles play out in interesting ways as well, as people keep dismissing Emily until it is almost too late because important magic is done by men. Similarly, Miss Jesczenka is able to play a long game and wreak havoc on her enemies because they never really saw her -- just a vulnerable girl and lowly immigrant -- and failed to recognize her and her power until it is too late. And even Emily's future mother-in-law practices a form of credomancy in the way that she has propped up and supported her husband so that his image of himself reflects the honorable civil servant he wants to be and not the rather flawed person he actually is. The Hidden Goddess is a worthy sequel to The Native Star.

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