Published by Katherine Tegen Books on October 13th 2015
Genres: YA Alternate History
On her eighteenth birthday, Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt,” will inherit her family’s treasure: the Newington Emerald. A dazzling heart-shaped gem, the Emerald also bestows its wearer with magical powers.
When the Emerald disappears one stormy night, Newt sets off to recover it. Her plan entails dressing up as a man, mustache included, as no well-bred young lady should be seen out and about on her own. While in disguise, Newt encounters the handsome but shrewd Major Harnett, who volunteers to help find the missing Emerald under the assumption that she is a man. Once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure that includes an evil sorceress, Newt realizes that something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.
In Newt’s Emerald, the bestselling author of Sabriel, Garth Nix, takes a waggish approach to the forever popular Regency romance and presents a charmed world where everyone has something to hide.
I picked up an ARC of this book at BEA 2015.
I adore Garth Nix’s Abhorson trilogy, so when I saw he was coming out with a new book that was a fantasy of manners, I knew I had to have it. For those who are unfamiliar, a fantasy of manners can be best described as Regency period ideals with magic. Like fantasy+romcom+alternate history+historical fiction. The ones that I’ve read have been light and fluffy, and very tongue-in-cheek, so that is what I expected from Newt’s Emerald and it did not disappoint. It was a funny mix of Regency romance tropes, with some magic mixed in.
But in other ways, it did disappoint. I’m willing to forgive light and fluffy narratives if their characters shine through. While I didn’t dislike any of the characters, they are all rather forgettable. The romance, while very cute and angsty at the beginning, turned into instalove quite quickly. The villain was two-dimensional. And I found the plot to be pretty predictable.
Overall, this is a cute, quick read that fans of the fantasy of manners genre and tropes will probably enjoy, but it will not be for everyone.