Nettleblack by Nat Reeve
"To be blunt: I must escape."
1893. Henry Nettleblack has to act fast or she'll be married off by her elder sister. But leaving the safety of her wealthy life isn't as simple as she thought. Ambushed, robbed, and then saved by a mysterious organisation - part detective agency, part neighbourhood watch - a desperate Henry disguises herself and enlists. Sent out to investigate a string of crimes, she soon realises that she is living in a small rural town with surprisingly big problems.
When the net starts to close around Henry, and sinister forces threaten to expose her as the missing Nettleblack sister, the new people in her life seem to offer her a way out, and a way forward. Is the world she's lost in also a place she can find herself?
Told through journal entries and letters, Nettleblack is a subversive and playful ride through the perils and joys of finding your place in the world, challenging myths about queerness - particularly transness - as a modern phenomenon, while exploring the practicalities of articulating queer perspectives when you're struggling for words.
'A joy to be invited into the raucous, charming, conniving world of Nettleblack. Nat Reeve's novel presents a vivid, entirely engrossing story where subterfuge, scurrilousness, skullduggery and sincerity zip through the pages. All told with wit, flair and heart: a true delight." - Eley Williams, author of The Liar's Dictionary and Attrib. & Other Stories
"Fresh, witty, and wildly original, Nettleblack is an unforgettable debut that brings a world of subversive characters to brilliant life, and announces the arrival of a unique new voice." - Preti Taneja, author of Aftermath and We That Are Young
"Nettleblack arrives breathlessly, wholly itself, yet also winding down the strange and brilliant bent lanes previously ridden by Sylvia Townsend Warner and Robert Aickman. It's a gorgeous bicycle basket of a novel wherein there are many things that delight my big gay heart, including bicycles and the divided skirts in which to ride them; ferrets and novelty rat pyjamas; surprising cravats and haircuts; full tilt journalling for justice (and love); scandalous novels; self-naming; swooning; sisters, and running away from - and towards - them; and a cornucopia of true love, of every kind and queerness. A heart tonic in a dark time, Nettleblack will sweep you up unawares and carry you along in its headlong plots and desires, just as the Dallyangle Division does to Henry - and like Henry, you may find that it changes, and even saves, you, or at the very least, makes you ecstatic." - So Mayer, author of A Nazi Word for a Nazi Thing
"Nettleblack plunges the reader head-first into an immersive and absorbing world of Victorian demi-monde derring-do, told by a unforgettable narrator. Henry Nettleblack avoids a (married) fate worse than death by hiding amongst a band of intrepid thief-catchers, experiencing a thrilling (and queer) coming-of-age outside the boundaries of conventional society. Nat Reeves' debut sizzles and crackles with confidence, offering a timeless tale of LGBTQ people finding family wherever they can. A delight!" -Ally Wilkes, author of All the White Spaces
Imprint: Cipher Press
Publication Date: 23 June 2022