Inspired by the works of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, Garth Nix's Newt's Emerald is a Regency romance with a fantasy twist. New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger calls it "charming; quite, quite charming." After Lady Truthful's magical Newington Emerald is stolen from her she devises a simple plan: go to London to recover the missing jewel. She quickly learns, however, that a woman cannot wander the city streets alone without damaging her reputation, and she disguises herself as a mustache-wearing man. During Truthful's dangerous journey she discovers a crook, an unsuspecting ally, and an evil sorceress—but will she find the Emerald?
Cross-dressing girls? Check.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Garth Nix’s newest novel Newt’s Emerald, but I was thoroughly delighted throughout the entire story. Written as an homage to regency novels, Nix merges a world of old magic and old London for a delightful mystery that has just enough romance and misunderstanding for any Jane Austen fan.
As Truthful “Newt” Newington prepares for her coming out in society, the (magical) family heirloom is stolen out from under her father’s nose. The Newington emerald goes missing, and with her father’s ailing health, Newt knows she must take matters into her own hands. With the help from her quirky Great-Aunt Badgery, and the dashing rogue, Major Harnett Newt disguises herself as a boy and infiltrates the seedier side of London.
Through many mishaps, Newt and Harnett discover an insidious plot to bring ruin to all of London. Even though there is a darker magic at work, the tone of the novel remains lighthearted and never takes itself too seriously. I giggled my way through all of the scenarios, and found myself swooning over Harnett right along with Newt.
Since this story is a take on the genre of regency novels, I had to remind myself that this book was doing its job well. I kept hoping that I would dive deeper into the world of magic and darkness, but that wasn’t the purpose of the story - this story is meant to be fun, and fun it is! The world, while not filled with backstory, gives just enough of a structure for the reader to follow along and care about its characters, while not overwhelming the reader with too much detail. The characters are likable, and fully realized. Everyone has their motivations, and the little changes of heart are what make Newt so endearing.
If you’re looking for something lighthearted, but full of adventure and romance, Newt’s Emerald is the book for you!