Nix, Garth. Newt's Emerald.
4Q * 4P * S * NA
Nix, Garth. Newt's Emerald. Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, 2015. 304p. $18.99. 978-0-06-236004-5.
Readers will be quickly drawn into the immersive world of this lovely regency novel. The tale begins with Truthful, daughter of Admiral the Viscount Newington, preparing to celebrate her eighteenth birthday with family in their country home before travelling to London to be presented to the ton. Magic is present in this world: glamour is common (many are not who they appear); Truthful can speak to animals and has a touch of weather magic; Napoleon has been imprisoned in the rock of Gibraltar by earth wizards. The machines of a coming steam-punk era are mentioned, but horses, sailing ships, and magic are still the norm. When the Newington Emerald is stolen, and along with it, her family's luck, Truthful's trip to London becomes a secret search to recover their property. Disguised as a man to enable her to search without compromising her reputation, she literally runs into Major Charles Harnett (another guise).
While the ultimate outcome of this tale is determined by its genre of regency romance, there is plenty of society, machinations, and humor in the form of puns and smart, quick conversation along the way. The writing is both immersive and educational. Liberal use of period appropriate vocabulary (e.g. arsy-versy and moidores) may send readers to a dictionary, but it only adds to the atmosphere of the story. Austen fans will be drawn to the familiar era and strong, stubborn heroine, and the touch of magic makes this an easy next book for fans of Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist Histories. It is also a welcome addition to Nix's own oeuvre. Best of all, while there may be future adventures for Truthful, this is a successful standalone novel.--Beth Karpas.