Genre: Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 5 stars Series: first book in duology
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, get in the middle of 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.
Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
EMILY WILDE’S ENCYLOPAEDIA OF FAERIES is an utterly delightful tale, a “light” academia fantasy in the vein of A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS, with a nerdy protagonist recording her slightly bizarre adventures as she seeks out knowledge.
The book is set in the early 1900s, following a Cambridge scholar as she travels to Ljosland in Norway to research this faeries over the winter, which of course makes this a snowy book, perfect for winter. The book is full of folklore tales from around the world, weaving them together with an academic’s eye as Emily theorising on links between stories in different countries and uses her knowledge to find clever ways out of various predicaments.
She is joined (unintentionally and without invitation) by the infuriating Wendell Bambleby. He is both infuriatingly handsome and infuriatingly good at delegating any hard work to others, yet able to reap great rewards from others’ burdens.
It is told through her research journal entries, though there are two additions from Bambleby to fill in the gaps. I like this method of telling these sorts of stories as it lets the nerdiness of the protagonist come across.
There are footnotes in this book, but (having struggled with them in previous books) I just skipped them entirely. It didn’t impact my enjoyment at all, missing these digressions, but instead let me read without the flow being interrupted, which is important for me.
There is another book to come and I will look forward to it!
Read my reviews of other books by Heather Fawcett:
Even the Darkest Stars: