Newt’s Emerald came out today!
Garth Nix’s latest follows Lady Truthful Newington as she attempts to recover the Newington Emerald, a family heirloom and a powerful source of magic, and save her cousins’ reputations. In London, the handsome Major Harnett offers to help under the assumption that she is a man, Henri de Vienne. As they face danger together, Lady Truthful also finds herself drawn to Harnett. While romantic complications brew, it become essential for the pair to recover the emerald before it falls into the wrong hands and puts all of England at risk.
Okay, before I get into this, I should warn you that Garth Nix is one of my favourite authors, so I might be a bit biased. However, regency romance isn’t really my thing, so maybe that’ll balance things out.
This one is a quick read and it’s shorter and less complicated than many of Garth Nix’s other novels (perhaps because it builds on an era that many of us are at least vaguely familiar with, while books like Sabriel are entirely made up). That said, it’s a tight, action packed narrative with the magic and spots of humour characteristic of Nix’s work.
Lady Truthful is bold and faces many of the challenges that bold fictitious women of the past deal with, namely, that women are not supposed to be bold. Luckily she gets support from her aunt and has the ability to pose as a distant male relative – thus carrying on the literary tradition of female cross dressing. The misunderstandings and oddities of the relationship that forms between Truthful and Major Harnett as a result of this disguise are funny while also providing a bit of commentary on gender roles (Garth Nix has a history of giving readers awesome female characters, which is one of the reasons he has my literary love).
Magic was given an interesting treatment in this novel. It exists, and everyone is aware of it, yet it does not appear to play a huge factor in day-to-day life of the characters. I was intrigued by this (partially because it is so different from The Abhorsen Trilogy and some other Nix books) and I found it added to the sense of danger. The threat of the emerald being used for ill is all the more troubling because of the juxtaposition between the chaos of magic and the polite refinement of the social class to which Truthful and Harnett belong.
Anyway, I shan’t say anything further, as it is a short novel and it’d probably do you better to read some Garth Nix than have me blather on about it.
Final verdict: I’ll never not recommend a Garth Nix novel (though Sabriel remains my favourite). This one might be good for you if you’re into regency romance and would like a little touch of fantasy with it.