BOOK REPORT for Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

Cover Story: Illustrative

BFF Charm: Yay

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

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Talky Talk: Regency Ride

Bonus Factors: Gender Swap, Magic

Relationship Status: Let’s Be Friends

Newts Emerald

Cover Story: Illustrative

Although there’s a lot going on here, I really like all of it. Each little piece speaks to something within the story, and hints at the time period in which the story takes place. Plus, it’s certainly unique, and the colors are very eye-catching without being over the top.

The Deal:

On the eve of her 18th birthday, Lady Truthful Newington has dinner with her three cousins and her father—and the Newington Emerald, a family heirloom that she’ll get to call her own when she’s 21. A sudden storm causes a commotion, and when all calms down, the Emerald is missing.

Truthful’s quest to find the heirloom leads to an adventure filled with assumed identities, magic, and unexpected emotional attachments.

BFF Charm: Yay

Although Truthful (known to her cousins as “Newt”) and I are from extremely different worlds, there’s something about her that felt familiar. When the Emerald went missing, she wasn’t content to just sit around and let the men handle the investigation. Instead, knowing what she did about the society in which she lives, she dressed up like a man and took the investigation into her own hands. But Truthful never became a stereotype: though she played with her cousins and dressed like a guy, she still enjoyed dressing in pretty dresses and attending balls. Truthful’s a well-rounded character, and would make a well-rounded friend.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

In the acknowledgements at the end of Newt’s Emerald, Garth Nix talks about his appreciation for the books of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. And, as with the romance in books by those authors, Newt’s Emerald shies away from anything that would be deemed racy or inappropriate. That’s not to say there isn’t romance in the book, but it’s certainly much more chaste than modern audiences might be used to.

Talky Talk: Regency Ride

I mentioned this above, but Newt’s Emerald is very much inspired by regency romances. Thanks to the mystery that surrounds the disappearance of the Emerald, however, the story is punctuated with a little more action than the books of Austen and Heyer. Originally a novella, Newt’s Emerald is fast-paced and features a not-all-that-mysterious mystery, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Nix has written a book that features amusing characters with a wide variety of personalities, a good dose of adventure, and a pleasing resolution. Newt’s Emerald is very unlike his previous books, but there’s still a sense of his writing in the story, particularly in the characters who use snark to make their viewpoints perfectly clear (think Mogget).

Bonus Factor: Gender Swap

Truthful has to pretend to be a distant cousin in order to search for the missing Emerald—a cousin who is a somewhat effeminate man. Of course, her disguise leads to comedies of errors, but it’s cunning on her part to want to do everything she can when no one else will help her.

Bonus Factor: Magic

Life in Newt’s Emerald is pretty accurate for Regency-era England—minus the fact that magic is real, and most people have some sort of power. Truthful’s family can control the oceans and winds, her great-aunt can create glamours and divine future events.

Casting Call:

Bonnie Wright as Truthful

Relationship Status: Let’s Be Friends

You might not have been the most original or deep date, Book, but you were an enjoyable storyteller. I don’t foresee our relationship ever becoming more than friendship, but I’m always open to having more friends in my life.

Newt’s Emerald is available now.

Mandy lives in Austin, TX, where she's a technical writer by day and a pop culture junkie by night. When she's not ensconced in a book for Forever Young Adult, Mandy can be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.