Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett – Review

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 this heartwarming and enchanting fantasy.

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┬ápeople. 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.

Thank you so much to Random House and NetGalley for this scholastic and intimate eARC! One of my favorite literary chestnuts is books that are written in a diary format; and this novel captures the uninhibited and intelligent voice of Emily Wilde so well that you may feel like you’re listening to the musings of an incredibly close friend who asked you to proofread their memoir. It is also chock full of unique lore about the Fae– and it combines that fictional history element with a cozy mystery that was hard to put down.

We meet Emily as she is settling into her place in a remote spot in Scandinavia to continue her research on faeries and the like. At first, the scholar seems aloof; her interactions with the locals not doing her any favors. However, as her writing goes on– she settles into herself and lets her true feelings fly… especially about a certain academic rival. Wendell is Emily’s perfect foil, and their will-they-won’t-they is a much appreciated romantic aspect in an otherwise dark fantasy novel. As Emily gets closer to her favored subject, the more dangerous things get. The story ramps up in a wonderful way; and the climax will leave you absolutely breathless.

I can’t say too much without delving into the mystery elements of the plot, but that’s okay– because the characters really drive the story here. You get to watch Emily grow through her own words, take a backseat journey into the slow burn romance between she and Wendell, and revel in Fawcett’s prose that will send you straight into the snug, snowy location that Emily finds herself in. It’s a story you can truly lose yourself in; and I very much appreciated that. With the holidays having just ended– it was nice to have a reprieve that felt like an actual escape. Definitely pick up this book if you need to be transported into whimsy and absurdity. If you’re like me, books are your faeries, and sometimes it’s all that makes sense in the world. Let Emily whisk you away; and be comfortable with being a stranger in a strange land.

5/5 stars