Book Review: Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

I have been in a bit of a reading slump lately, the risk of leaving a good book hangover untreated. And a severe one at that, because September and October saw and continues to see some fantastic releases. But there is nothing like being confined in a pressurised cabin, high above ground for a few hours to snap you out of it.

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix was picked up at my customary visit to the local airport bookstore (the variety and quality of stock of which have been steadily becoming better) after a trying day at work. It is a YA regency romantic-comedy with a magical twist and more importantly it was just what I needed at that point in time: a charming and easy read that put a smile on my face.

Summary

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.

What I Liked

I appreciated the simple yet engaging plot and the alternate regency era was certainly fun. The world building is unremarkable at first glance but the magical element made it remarkable.

Truthful was a very easy character to like. If you like Jane Austen’s plucky heroines, you’ll love Truthful. What I loved most about her was that despite her various (and hilarious ) departures from what is expected of a lady in her era, she was a regency girl with the idiosyncracies of one.

Major Harnett was equally attractive, possessing all the qualities of an Austen hero with a little Flynn Rider-like flare. I think Nix balanced Harnett’s skeptical broodiness against the enthusiastic-adventurer very well.

Truthful and Harnett had great chemistry, both romantically and otherwise, which was much appreciated. They were a good example of the fact the relationships do not exist in a vacuum and as such their interactions with the supporting ensemble of characters were as interesting as their interactions with each other.

The supporting characters, lead by Lady Badgery and Truthful’s Newington-Lacy cousins, complimented the narrative well and made excellent comic relief.

What I Did Not Like
There was nothing seriously off putting about Newt’s Emerald, but if I am being overly critical, the charming simplicity of plot may irk some. That being said, it was succinct and entertaining, which is a hard thing to balance. The romance could have been a little more elaborate, that is, more interaction between Truthful and Harnett because whatever was there was so much fun!

In conclusion, If you are familiar with Nix’s work, Newt’s Emersld is a departure from his prior works, so if you, like me, did not particularly take to his other novels, Newt’s Emearld will surprise you. Newt’s Emerald is a fun little read of magic, mystery, mayhem and manners. It comes highly recommended, if you are looking for a light hearted read with a unique take on an established genre such as historical romance.

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