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.
I picked this book out as an audiobook to listen to on my drive to and from my recent conference in Charlotte from Libby, once again. It was a short enough book to take up my drive there and back again and seemed like a fun and exciting read from an author, Garth Nix, I’ve been wanting to try out. This book was released in 2015, but he has many books that were released before that and few more recently as well.
The main character, Lady Truthful, was a fun protagonist to get to know and explore. She begins fairly demure, unmotivated and unassuming, but goes through great development throughout the story. I enjoyed seeing her be challenged and grow through the conflicts put in front of her. I also enjoyed the complex side-characters, particularly Major Harnett, who Truthful has great chemistry with from their first interaction.
The plot of the story is multi-faceted. The main conflict, of course, is Truthful’s quest to find her family’s Newington Emerald, but there is also the issue of her trying to keep her identity hidden. Her relationship with Major Harnett and her growing sense of confidence is another large part of the story, which I feel by the end of the book had really become the focus of the book, with the restoration of the emerald falling to the background.
The setting of the book Regency-esque alternative London makes for an interesting and unique read. The language that Nix uses is reminiscent of Jane Austen novels from the same time period. This makes the story rich with detail, but also a bit unusual for a Young Adult novel. It makes the pacing slightly slower than you’d expect in this time of book and exposition-heavy. However, the language does make the setting a character of it’s own, which was exceptionally fun to listen to as an audiobook.
Newt’s Emerald is a fun, quick and light-hearted read. The action and romance filled plot line makes for a great story for fans of Jane Austen and The Paper Magician. The language is authentic to the time period the book is set in, but try to let that enhance the setting rather than slow you down.