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.
This was an interesting read in that it really should have been a book I love, but it just wasn’t. I actually really struggled to get through this – and honestly, I normally give up on books that I’m not really enjoying, so I don’t actually know why I kept going with this.
This novel promises Regency-era excitement, adventure, romance, gender-bending, mystery, bad guys and magic. I mean come on! This should’ve been awesome! It’s also by renowned author Garth Nix. Nix wrote the Sabriel series, which I read when I was a teenager and LOVED. So this was all very disappointing.
Basically, we are introduced to Lady Truthful Newington (she is very rarely called ‘Newt’, this only gets thrown around a couple of times, and I think really only because it’s felt that it’s needed to be, for the sake of the title) and soon after, her 3 male cousins, whom she has a close relationship with. The description of her cousins was an oddly long one that went on for several pages and was a bit pointless, considering they were hardly even in the novel. Chaos ensues when Truthful’s family’s emerald is stolen right from under them during a freak storm that tears through the house. Truthful then embarks on an adventure to London to look for the emerald. Here she stays with her great aunt (basically the only character I really liked) who convinces her to dress as her distant male cousin, so that she can scope around the city unaccompanied to look for clues to finding to emerald. Truthful soon meets Charles and from here onwards and they start hunting for the emerald. From the beginning we know that Charles is hiding his true identity from Truthful and it’s all a bit silly and obvious. I didn’t find Charles particularly exciting, so this didn’t really help me in enjoying this novel. I found the magic aspect of the novel to be a bit confusing. It was really only thrown around when it was essential to the story. There wasn’t a lot of explaining any of it and it was sometimes confusing. Basically, I think the story could’ve actually been better without the added complication of the magical storyline.
The bad guys in this were all pretty obvious and ridiculous and didn’t really provide much excitement. There’s a pretty cool section of the novel that’s set on a pirate ship though, so that was something!
My main gripe with Newt’s Emerald is that I actually have no idea who the target audience for this novel is meant to be. For example, it’s written quite simplistically (which is fine, it’s nice to have a read every now and again that’s simple and easy to get through), however, despite this there were HEAPS of words that I had no freaking idea about. Seriously, I am so glad that I read this on my kindle, as I legit highlighted about 1-2 words every page or so. It was actually ridiculous. So, I learnt a lot of new words, but also, this book is listed as Children’s/Young Adult. I would’ve read this book when I was 12 if it had been around, but 24-year-old Imogen had a lot of trouble with some of these words, so 12-year-old Imogen certainly would have. I just found this a bit strange and unnecessary.
Overall, this should’ve been a quick, easy, enjoyable read for me, but it took way too long, was a bit too silly, and cliche. Garth Nix can be a fantastic writer, but this just doesn’t do him justice.