Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
Publication Date: January 10, 2023
Summary from NetGalley:
A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north to study faerie folklore and discovers dark fae magic, friendship, and love in the start of a heartwarming and enchanting new fantasy series.
Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is good at many things: She is the foremost expert on the study of faeries. She is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world’s first encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party—or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other people.
So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk, muddle Emily’s research, and utterly confound and frustrate her.
But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones—the most elusive of all faeries—lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: Who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she’ll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all—her own heart.
ARC provided by Random House via NetGalley for an honest review.
This was such a fun and delightful read that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. I enjoyed both the main characters as well as the myriad villagers and Folk that we encounter throughout the story. This is a book that is also full of compassion and acceptance and how a community comes together to protect their own.
Emily is our main narrator, as this is her journal that we are reading. It does start off a bit dry and staid, but as the story unfolds, it becomes a lot more animated and Emily’s feelings begin to shine through. I really liked how curmudgeonly Emily is, more willing to spend time with a shy tree faerie than the villagers. She really is a bit clueless when it comes to dealing with humans, which Wendell is quite right to point out to her. But she does get it eventually and starts to understand how helpful the community can be with her research. I also loved the little story of how she acquired her dog, Shadow. He is a lovely addition to the story as well.
Wendell is the complete opposite of Emily, being charming and flirtatious with everyone he meets. You can tell from the start what his feelings for Emily are, even when she is being totally clueless to them. You can also tell pretty early on that there is more to Wendell than Emily knows and it was great fun to watch her figure all of these things out.
I really enjoyed the Fae that we meet in this story, from common folk, to a changeling, to court Fae. All of them were more reminiscent of old folktales rather than the more modern Fae we find in stories today. It fit with the historical setting of the story, very nicely. I also liked the folktales that were woven into the story. I’m not sure if these were based on Scandinavian tales, but they certainly sounded like they were.
The plot is slowly paced for the most part, but I kind of liked that in this case. It fit with the plot and setting and the fact that this was a scientific journal, not a novel. There are a lot of exciting moments, especially the times when Emily decides to take some matters into her own hands and always seems to get herself into trouble. Even with the slow pace, I had a hard time putting this book down and read it pretty quickly.
If you are looking for a cozy fantasy with a lot of heart this is one you should give a chance. It has a great set of characters, a great winter setting and in the end it will warm your heart. I can’t wait for the next adventure that Emily and Wendell go on.