Nettleblack by Nat Reeve / ISBN 9781838390068 / 420-page paperback with flaps published in 2022 by Cipher Press
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
"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 organization – part detective agency, part neighborhood watch – a desperate Henry disguises herself and enlists. Sent out to investigate a string of crimes, she soon realizes 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.
"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
Nat Reeve is a writer and researcher. They're currently working towards a PhD in Victorian art, literature and queerness at Royal Holloway, University of London. In academical guise, they mostly write about Elizabeth Siddal causing havoc with medieval objects, or horrible geese invading Pre-Raphaelite artworks. They have also been known to edit, perform in and direct Victorian plays and operas, to the sideburn-stricken bafflement of their audiences. Nettleblack is their first novel.