Gail Carriger Reviews Newt’s Emerald & Ridiculous (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Newt’s Emerald was just as much fun on the reread as it was the first time I read it, Gentle Reader. There is something so light and easy about this book. This is a bit of a shock from Mr. Nix. Not that his necromancer YA is labored, just that it is, by necessity given the subject matter, weighty. (Still, I recommend it if you like that kind of dark well-done fantasy. Just don’t go in expecting anything like Newt’s Emerald.)

While I like the cover well enough, as covers go, I do think it does this particular book a disservice. It’s not going to find an eager New Adult or YA market. Nor will it draw in any romance readers with this style of art and price point. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think what market the publisher thinks this cover targets. Perhaps they were after Night Circus readers, but why? The books aren’t at all alike. Regardless, it’s a pity, as I think Newt’s Emerald could do very well with YA, New Adult, and Romance readers. I can only hope with the paperback they change up the cover and that love for this novel spreads. I’d suggest something like the cover of Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal. Not that anyone is asking at me, but they might try a different title too ~ one with better keyword action.

Now, let us put aside the things over which the author (self or the admirable Mr. Nix) has very little control (at least in this instance) and move on to story and writing. It’s brilliant, my dears, just brilliant.

“By the time Truthful had carefully put away her ensorcelled moustache, soaked in her lemon verbena-scented bath, slept for an hour, and dressed in a charming walking dress of green crape with puffed sleeves embellished with silver knot-ribbons, she felt much better.”

I should just like to say that Ensorcelled Moustache is the name of my dub-step meets opera cover band.

“Out of my way, spider-shanks! Fellow with calves like that shouldn’t be seen in knee breeches.”

So right, this is me, all the quotes I pick are going to revolve around clothing. Can’t be helped. Spider-Shanks indeed. Might be my second favorite insult after Poodle-Faker. (All the best insults have hyphens. Incidentally, that’s the name of Ensorcelled Moustache’s first hit single.)

All in all, I felt the story, the characters, and the romance all rubbed along together in a topping manner. It reminded me of my youth spent smuggling illicit regency romances to read on the beach, meets Sorcery & Cecelia. And anything that reminds me of my youth plus a favorite book must be praised.

The character of Lady Badgery greatly intrigued me. I should dearly love to read her story some day.

“As to the impressive score of deaths that may be laid at my door, they all occurred in the six years I lived as a man, in the Army, as a lieutenant to my beloved Badgery. All were in battle, you understand. Oh, there was one duel, but that was an accident.”

“Hasn’t Parkins been with you since you were married?” she asked.
Lady Badgery smiled again. “Sergeant Harkins she was in those days,” she said. “She had the most remarkable beard. I wonder if she still has it?”

I want that book Mr Nix. Pretty please?

Meanwhile, if you are at all inclined, please give this little gem a review? Newt’s Emerald could very much use the boost. And if you want to read something similar go get Sorcery & Cecilia, last I checked the ebook was listed for sale in the US at only $1.99. (Although if you have been having around me for any length of time, you likely already have it. I am constantly pimping it.)

I found Ridiculous by D L Carter a frivolous but very fun regency romance. It has more sexy-times than normal in such books, and a whole lot of pining girl disguised as a boy a favorite trope of mine. Also it is really quite funny. I laughed out loud at least a dozen times.

Again, it has a pretty sorry cover. But with over 1000 reviews on Amazon, a great star rating, and a $0.99 price point I think it’s doing fine for this author. Although, I did see some of the negative reviews specifically complained that there was too much sex. (Despite the author’s clear attempt to manage expectations with: ***Mature Audience Advisory*** Identity theft regency style. Funny. Sexy. Cross Dressing. Not your mother’s Regency Romance.)

If the cover were a little sexier and more modern style, modeled and less traditionally regency sketch (not to mention weirdly awkward) this might manage expectations. (Where are their feet? Why is the perspective & of the background and that of the figures so mismatched? Why is he sucking on his cane?

Why does the blond look like Macaulay Culkin?

It is all very concerning. I have to stop looking at it now, or I’ll keep worrying.)

Here’s the blurb:

After the death of her miserly cousin Antony North, Millicent Boarder is determined her family should never be poor or vulnerable again. To protect them she conceals her cousin’s death and assumes his identity. Now she must face the Ton and the world as Mr. North and accept the price she must pay for her family’s safety — she will never be loved. Which means, of course, at this point she will meet the perfect man.

Here we see Millicent herself put the plan into words:

“There are many types of men in society. If I set out to be deliberately silly, inconsequential, and foolish, then if I should do something odd, people will say, ‘Oh, that is just that odd Mr. North. Think nothing of it.’”

And so she creates a kind of foolish Wilde character, only with far less fashion sense. In order to disguise her body shape she must affect very ill-fitting suits. Again, I tend to gravitate towards and enjoy the quotes that deals with clothing and apparel. Here’s a fun one:

“We met at the assembly,” replied Mildred. “The widow of Sir Richard Whenthistle with the purple turban and astonishingly black hair for her age.”
“And six flounces at the hem,” added Maude with a shudder.

But my favorite things by far in this book are when Mr. North (AKA Millicent) is at his most witty.

“Ah, I realize we have not been properly introduced,” said Millicent to the dark haired creature who sat shivering on her lap. “But I fear you have hopelessly compromised me. We shall have to be wed.”

“Your horses are all well. Merely shaken a bit with one or two scratches. However, I fear it will be necessary to shoot your carriage to put it out of its misery.”

Mr. North as a fribble is released from many societal requirements because of his absurdity. Like the class clown getting away with misbehavior because he makes the teacher laugh.

“Elizabeth Rose Edwina Genevieve Helene, actually,” said Lady Beth. “Good heavens. You should be six feet tall to bear the burden of so many names.”

Mr. North can be either kind or cutting, depending on the circumstances. And Millicent, who is sympathetic to the plight of young lady wallflowers, often uses the foolishness of her alter ego to be kind.

“You have had a London season?” asked Millicent in her softest voice. The answer was the barest nod. “And it did not go well?” An even smaller shake was her answer.
“Whatever is wrong with London?” demanded Millicent.

“Yes, he is a duke,” said Millicent softly. “But what are we to feed him?” demanded Mrs. Prichart. “Food, I imagine,” said Millicent, “since it is only a rumor that they live on moonbeams and starlight.”

I liked how the ending was treated, and I did think it was inevitable, given this is a romance novel. Nevertheless, I was sad to see Mr. North go, and to know Millicent could never be him again and enjoy the freedom of the opposite sex.

“Tea was drunk and stories told of the odd little fellow who had won the hearts of the ton, then died, tragically, before he became unfashionable.”

Mr. North was more powerful than she could ever be, even as a duchess. I have to imagine that after all her liberty she would chaff against the bounds of being a woman once more in the early 1800s. Would marriage and great sex be enough to compensate, do you think? I don’t know.

“When Mr. North’s coffin was carried from the church with Shoffer, Duke of Trolenfield leading on the right side, Mr. North’s brother-in-law to be, a simple secretary, in the middle, and a farmer come hot foot all the way from Wales to fulfill this honor following, the other side staffed by officers in full regimentals, one wag was moved to comment that all that was required was an Indian chief to make the funeral complete.”

Silly stocking stuffers from the Mum

I do hope you are enjoying your holidays. I’ve lots of fun blog posts planned for the next few weeks and this month’s Chirrup contains some Very Good News. 

Talk to you again in 2016!

{Gail’s monthly read along for January is The Raven’s Ring by Patricia Wrede. You do not have to have read any other Lyra books.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Le Moniteur de la Mode Date-  Tuesday, July 1, 1845

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Scientist Tries to Photograph Octopus, Octopus Photographs Scientist Instead

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
How Did Prison Change Oscar Wilde?

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
He Never Wasted A Single Failure

Book News:
21 Amazing Young Adult Series That Ended in 2015

Quote of the Day:
“They are not so very much older than me, are they? I would not want them to laugh at my presumption.” Millicent paused before answering. “Far be it from me to estimate any lady’s age, whether young or old. Let me only say you are taller.”
~ Ridiculous by D L Carter


Posted by Gail Carriger

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  1. Myandria said:

    I couldnt get Newts Emerald on kindle (I'm in the UK) so I read Rediculous and enjoyed it, the er, sexy times did surprise me a little at how graphic it got. Not that I'm averse to a bit, and it was well written but it was a bit distracting rather than enhancing to the story and it also means I'm now a little embarressed to reccomend it to friends which is a shame because I did enjoy the book. I liked Millicents charactor and while the ending is more realistic I also mourned the loss of her Mr North and suspect that after the initial bloom of married life wears off she will certainly chafe in her new role and suspect many frustrating and frankly upsetting years ahead for her. Which is sad.

    Due to that book Kindle reccomended Shades of Milk and Honey which I also read and loved, and then read the others in the series which I also very much enjoyed. The idea of Glamour magic in with the period details worked well, and I enjoyed her relationship with her sister and Vincent.

    Im getting very frustrated with publishing companies these days, like with Newt's Emerald, after I read Tamora Pierce's Alanna books on the read along a while back I wanted to read some more of her books – but there are no ebook versions for me to buy in the UK.

    I've also been noticing a trend at pricing ebook versions of new books much higher than I'd be prepared to buy (for reference £5 is about as much as Im willing to pay for a digital copy of a book so seeing some priced at £10 puts me off especially when you can see a paperback print version nearly half that right next to it on the screen – Im not naming names but it seems to be happening more often).

  2. Gail Carriger said:

    As to Tamora Pierce in the UK that is a different matter. It has to to do with this combined with the fact that ORIGINALLY (the 80s!) she apparently didn't sell well there. So no one has really bothered to cultivate her in the UK and, I presume, he agent hasn't really bothered to pursue it now. I suspect she is one of those authors unwilling to bother with indie even if her rights were available for her to self-pub to your market. A real shame, if you ask me. I even mentioned her to my YA publishing house when I was there and they were excited to be reminded of her. I don't know if they pursue it, but if they did, nothing came of it. It's all very frustrating. It's also a marker of how unsettled the publishing industry is with everyone scrabbling to figure new technology out. ~ Gail

  3. Gail Carriger said:

    I should say that is ALL hearsay and gossip from when I am over visiting. I've no idea what really might be going on with Mz. Pierce and that market. I often find myself talking about her as and author because the UK is one of those places where people are ALWAYS asking about my favorite books as a kid. This is what I've gathered from those convos.

  4. Myandria said:

    Both interesting articles – thanks!
    It's a shame about Tamora Pierce because I was genuinely surprised how old the Songs of the Lioness books were – she was definately ahead of her time writting them and I would think the market is ripe for her now.
    They do at least have the song of the Lioness books in ebook here – just nothing else. Maybe that's a good sign that Random House has realised the treasure they have and more will follow (fingers crossed).

    It must be so frustrating as an author, I can't even imagine. You give up your rights thinking these publishers know what they're doing and then they seem to bumble around with this new fangled digital publishing (You'd think by now they would have got their business models in order though).
    I think someone in the comments of the Nielson article hit it on the head when they said that while book publishing should probably stay exclusively regional, digital rights should be sold as global (by language).

  5. Myandria said:

    I guess a lot problems probably have as much to do with Tax laws as well but Im sure there must be ways of dealing with that by now.

  6. Gail Carriger said:

    "I think someone in the comments of the Nielson article hit it on the head when they said that while book publishing should probably stay exclusively regional, digital rights should be sold as global (by language)."
    I agree, the issue being because big pub haven't been doing very well with digital so far, authors aren't willing to grant them world rights to distribute the ebook in that language (that is assuming they would pay fairly for world distribution, which is another story), and publishers won't buy a book at all without at least having territory rights to digital distribution. So we are right back to where we started.

  7. Myandria said:

    That's a good point! I just finished reading some of the comments from authors in the both of those articles lamenting that even though they ensured global rights were included for digital publishing, the publishers themselves wern't using it which meant that they were essentially stuck.

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