I received an ARC of this novel at BEA 2015!
This has been the year of Garth Nix! It started in October 2014 with the long awaited Clariel, continued with To Hold the Bridge and will end in October with this novel Newt’s Emerald.
Newt’s Emerald is a regency romance with magic and I loved it. It was a fun quick read that departed from most of Nix’s previous novels. The story never really descended into serious darkness, instead focusing on the fast paced, light hearted and fun. I never found myself truly worrying about the characters or whether they’ll solve the mystery of the missing emerald. I knew everything was going to work out in the end, and after a long line of dark fantasy and horror novels, this book was lovely.
Lady Truthful or Newt is a fun character. She’s clever, she’s witty and she’s willing to take some risks for the sake of her family and friends. She’s a young victorian woman who has never questioned her role or the role of women in her society. Instead she finds ways to beat the system by working within the strict rules and morals of her society. When her family’s heirloom a magical emerald is stolen, she heads to London to try and track it down. With the help of her Great Aunt and some new friends she manages to make some headway on the mystery. To do this she dresses as a man pretending to be her french cousin. Craziness ensues.
The side characters are a lot of fun also. Holy crap, her Great Aunt. I want a book about this woman’s younger days. She’s a little wacky, but in the best way. There is definitely a story about her younger days in there.
The romance in this novel is cute. Lady Truthful meets Charles while she’s disguised as a man and therefore is able to get to know him without the pesky victorian gender roles getting in the way. Charles is a fun character and their friendship turned romance gave me a few butterflies (I’m not totally cold hearted guys).
My favourite part of any Garth Nix book is the the world building, and yet again it’s top notch. I don’t know how he always manages to set up his world so quickly. Even though this is a short stand alone novel it feels as detailed as the worlds in Keys to the Kingdom and The Abhorsen Trilogy. Nix creates a Victorian England where magic and magical creatures are common place. Different families have different abilities (this harkened me back to the Guild system in Clariel). glamour, weather magic, etc. Yet, I loved how Lady Truthful doesn’t rely on her own magic to find her emerald.
If you’re looking for a quick read reminiscent of Austen but mixed with all the fun of a screwball comedy, and a little bit of magic than this book is for you.
Also, I loved the little nod to dark magic thrown in there as a one off line, because it’s not a Garth Nix book without a small nod towards the necromantic, is it?