Not a Diamond in the Rough: Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

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.

Source: GoodReads

I just didn’t like this one.

The style just didn’t work for me.  And it’s not because I’m not a fan of Historical Romances, I am (I read a shit ton of them this year).  I just think this book tried to imitate what it thought a historical romance was (or what it used to be) and didn’t take aspects we see in more modern novels in this genre.

And I’m talking about the sex.

Jeez, I get that it is a YA novel.  But the lack of characterization is pretty apparent in the novel which is a shame because it was a pretty neat set up and Nix has a lot of successful books out there so I thought this would be a slam dunk.

Instead, I gave up for it when I got to the 200 mark.

Yes, I know, yet another DNF.  I seem to be doing that a lot this week.  But I can’t help when I get bored, and bad characterization is very easy for me to get bored especially when the bad characterization effects what could’ve been a romance filled with troopy goodness with bonus magic.

I really like the idea.  I think that’s what kept the book from getting a lower rating from me, I appreciated the spirit of the book but it just didn’t work.  And I’m not sure if it’s because the novel execution is just faulty.  It really tries to stylize itself as a historical romance and while the basic research was done, I did have some issues with how the mannerisms were handled.

Because really, a well to do lady of the period is not going to encourage her niece to pretend to be a boy-even though this trope is used in a whole lot of HR’s out there.  Not the old lady encouraging the girl to throw some dirt on her face, chop off her hair, and hide her tits, or in this case wink up a magcial mustache bit.

And that’s the thing, the whole magic aspect of this book was very poorly done.

I just really didn’t like it.

Which is sad.


Like I said, I ended up not finishing it because the way the book was written didn’t work for me.  I don’t think it was that bad of a book though.  There were some decent ideas there, but I really thought a well versed author such as Nix could’ve came up with something better.

Overall Rating: I DNF’d it.  I think it’s more of it’s a me not you book reason I DNF’d, but the characterization is fairly lousy.  If you like potential for an interesting story though, you might want to give this one a try.


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