Lady Truthful Newington, known as Newt by her friends, will inherit the Newington Emerald next year on her eighteenth birthday. The emerald is not only a family heirloom, it’s magical and said to be the reason for the prosperity of the Newington family. During a dinner to celebrate Newt’s birthday, the emerald practically disappears from her father’s hand. Newt’s father is taken ill from the shock and cannot leave his bed. Not understanding the magical and protective properties the emerald possesses, Newt’s cousins suggest just finding another fancy jewel to replace it and they set off for India as impulsive headstrong teenage boys will do. Left alone to find the emerald and save the fate of their family, Newt decides to search for the emerald in London. But since no respectable lady can go about London asking after a stolen jewel, Newt devises a plan to pose as a man with the help of an enchanted fake moustache.
While posing as a man, Newt meets the handsome Major Hartnett who agrees to help Newt in her search. Not knowing the young man he is helping is actually Lady Truthful Newington, the Major makes some unsavory comments as to the rumor that Lady Truthful is quite beautiful, but also quite conceited. Newt is offended but must keep up the charade. Her reputation will be ruined if anyone catches onto the fact that Newt has been dressing in trousers and a fake moustache and traveling through London unchaperoned. Since Major Harnett is assisting the Newton family in searching for the emerald, he also meets Lady Truthful as a woman. He is clearly not charmed by Lady Truthful, who he assumes is spoiled and fanciful like so many other wealthy, beautiful young woman. Neither Newt nor Major Harnett have made good first impressions on one another, but as they try to unravel the mystery of the stolen emerald, they get to know one another. Newt finds herself caring for more about the Major’s good opinion of her than she ever wanted to.
In the spirit of Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series, Newt’s Emerald gives us a willful female protagonist who is not about to set back and wait for someone else to solve her problems. I was definitely reminded of Pride & Prejudice as I read Newt’s Emerald. Much like Elizabeth Bennett, Newt’s pride is wounded when Major Hartnett criticizes Lady Truthful. Newt then acts the part of the spoiled child out of spite, which only confirms his earlier assumptions of her which Newt later regrets.
Newt’s Emerald is Pride and Prejudice meets whodunnit with a dash of magic thrown in for good measure. Far lighter than Nix’s stunning Abhorsen series, but a fun read nonetheless.