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Garth Nix – Newt’s Emerald

January 4, 2016

Nix, Garth - Newt's Emerald - 40075. Newt’s Emerald: Magic, Maids, and Masquerades by Garth Nix (2013)

Read By: Faye Adele
Length: 6h 27min (304 pages)

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Started: 07 November 2015
Finished: 14 November 2015

Where did it come from? From the publishers for review.
Why do I have it? Garth Nix is reliably enjoyable, and I like fantasy of manners.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 20 October 2015.

A stolen emerald,
a magic moustache, and a
Regency romance!

Summary: Lady Truthful Newington has grown up as a bit of a tomboy, with her three older (male) cousins egging her on, despite the fact that she’s supposed to be a young lady. But when the emerald that is tied to her family’s fortunes is stolen during a storm and Lady Truthful’s father falls into a mysterious illness, it’s up to her to journey to London to do her best to recover the jewel. But a young lady traveling on her own, even with a maid, is far too improper, even for Lady Truthful, so she disguises herself as a young man, with the help of her great-aunt Lady Badgery. She soon meets Major Harnett, who offers to help Truthful (in her disguise as the Chevalier Henri de Vienne) find the jewel, for it is an artifact of far more power than a mere emerald. But it’s not long before they both find themselves caught up in danger and intrigue – not only magical, but societal and romantic as well!

Review: This was a very fun read, full of Regency romance mixed with fantasy adventure. The characters are generally likable without being particularly complex – Truthful, Major Hartnett, and Lady Badgery hue pretty close to type (the sassy young woman who chafes at the restrictions put by society on the feminine sex, the charming but slightly roguish hero and love interest, the older woman who doesn’t entirely care what society thinks and still has a few tricks up her sleeve, etc.). The plot is fast moving and with plenty of action, and a few twists that I wasn’t expecting, although the general outline of a Regency romp/romance is pretty familiar to most readers, I’d wager. The worldbuilding isn’t outstanding or particularly detailed (at least on the fantasy front; the historical detail is certainly present), but it doesn’t need to be: it’s a Regency novel with magic, and the point isn’t to worry too much over how the magic works. (And I *always* want to know how the magic works, but in this case, I was being swept along by the story too much to really bother with it.)

It’s very similar to Shades of Milk and Honey, Sorcery and Cecelia, but I think it reads as somewhat younger than either of those two, due to the relative simplicity and straightforwardness of the characters and the plot. It’s also quite similar to Kat, Incorrigible, although aimed somewhat older than that one. (I’d say late mid-grade to early YA?) It’s a fun romp, a sweet (if predictable) love story, and a nice Regency set piece, and when you throw in girls dressing as boys to get something done (one of my go-to favorite literary tropes), mistaken identities, and a little bit of naval adventure, I can’t ask for much more than that. I’m not sure if this is meant to be the start to a series (it works perfectly fine as a one-off), but if it is, I’ll happily read more of Truthful’s adventures. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Fans of the “fantasy of manners” subgenre will find this book a charming addition, and those who like Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer but find them insufficiently magical should check it out as well.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia, Frances and Lynne, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Of all the birthdays she’d had, Truthful decided her present one was the best and most exciting.

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