Newt’s Emerald (Garth Nix)

October 29, 2015 Book Reviews 7 ★★★★½

Newt’s Emerald (Garth Nix)Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on Oct. 13, 2015
Genres: Historical Fantasy, Historical Romance, YA (Young Adult)
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: the publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Lady Truthful will inherit her family’s most valued heirloom on her eighteenth birthday. Until the Newington Emerald is stolen.

Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt” by her boy cousins, discovers that to her horror, the people closest to her have been framed for the theft. But Newt won’t let their reputations be damaged by rumors from a false accusation. Her plan is simple: go to London to recover the missing jewel. Despite her best intentions, a young lady travelling alone is frankly unacceptable behavior. So Newt and her aunt devise another plan…one that entails men’s clothing and a mustache.

While in disguise, Truthful encounters the handsome but shrewd major Harnett, who to her amazement volunteers to help find the missing emerald under the assumption that she is a man, Henri de Vienne. But once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure, Truthful realizes something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.

Truthful has far more than romantic complications to worry about. The stolen emerald is no ordinary heirloom-it is the source of the family’s luck and has the power to yield vast magic. It would be completely disastrous if it fell into the wrong hands. The fate of England depends on Truthful securing the emerald.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Review

Regency romance, mystery, and a strong infusion of magic combine to make Newt’s Emerald pure delight! Nix writes with a light touch: his slyly funny prose, unlikely situations, and oddly apt names kept me smiling, his characters are charmingly eccentric, and the whole effect is of a frothy confection, deliciously effervescent.

Lady Truthful (“Newt” to her male cousins) has just turned 18, but before she can inherit the Newington Emerald–a stone of great value and magical power–the gem is stolen. Truthful is determined to get it back, not least because its loss has sent her father into a brain-fever, so she proceeds to London to stay with her exceedingly eccentric aunt, Lady Badgery. Truthful is an appealing heroine; she is determined, courageous, and both decisive and resourceful when the need arises. When it comes to her heart, however, she is as vulnerable as any young Regency lady, and slightly bewildered by her feelings at first. While she’s initally shocked at the idea of disguising herself as a man, she adjusts rather well, and does her best to carry it off with aplomb. Magic is, of course, an asset to such a disguise.

Charles–Major Harnett as we first know him–is a typical Regency romance hero: handsome, competent, and rather grudgingly determined to do the “right thing” when he realizes he has compromised Truthful. When they first meet, he is hostile to Truthful, but grows less so to her male alter-ego. He doesn’t take it at all well when she rescues him, nor when he finds out she’s female. Luckily, he figures out he’s being an ass and becomes more likable as the book goes on.

Lady Badgery is everything an eccentric elderly great-aunt should be, and then some. She had me laughing out loud more than once. After the opening chapters, Truthful’s cousins come into the story less than I thought they would, but almost the secondary characters have little quirks or characteristics that make them both individual and interesting, so I didn’t feel their absence too much.

The book does rely on, or perhaps I should say revels in, some of the traditional Regency tropes, but the plot is more Heyer-like with its intrigues and masquerades (in both senses of the word: hidden identities and a costume ball.) I don’t think you need to be familiar with the genre to enjoy the book, but if you are, you’ll recognize the author’s affection for it even as he gently ridicules some of its sillier aspects.

If you love both fantasy and Regency-era romance, I think you’ll love Newt’s Emerald. It’s very much a YA novel in tone and feel, and there’s no “heat” whatsoever, but I found it enchanting. I guarantee it will leave you with a smile on your face!

 

CHALLENGES: Historical Romance 2015; Witches & Witchcraft 2015; Popsugar #39: A book with magic

 

four-half-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Romance Reading Challenge
  • 2015 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
  • PopSugar 2015 Reading challenge

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