Timy reviews Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, the first book in Heather Fawcett‘s Fantasy series, Emily Wilde. The novel is released by Orbit on January 19, 2023.
I received an eARC via Netgalley thanks to the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
|Series: Emily Wilde #1||Genre: Fantasy, Romance|
|Date of Publishing: January 19, 2023||Trigger Warnings: amputation|
|Page count: 342||Publisher: Orbit|
Possible The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge prompts:
- Are You Gonna Be My Girl
- Have a Little Faith
- Free Your Mind
- Vészhelyzet (Emergency)
- The Diary of Jane
- Heavy is the Crown
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, 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.
“The truth is that, for the Folk, stories are everything. Stories are part of the and their world in a fundamental way that mortals have difficulty grasping; a story may be a singular event from the past, but – crucially – it is also a pattern that shapes their behaviors and predicts future events. The Folk have no system of laws, and while I am not saying stories are as law to them, they are the closest thing their world has to some form of order.”
Man, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries was a bitch to pick a song for. Eventually, I found an old favorite of mine, Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse. I’m not sure if it’s a good fit, but I think it works.
I didn’t request many books in 2022, but Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries seemed like something that would totally be up my alley as I read many cozy Fantasy books recently, and that’s clearly been a theme with me. I went in absolutely blind as I didn’t know much about the book, or the author, although I’ve seen people singing praises about it on my feed. I, however, had no expectations and that’s always nice. And while I can’t say that I loved it, I certainly was entertained by it. Whether I’ll pick up the later books in the series…well, I didn’t quite decide yet.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is set on a small Northern European island, in a small village, where Emily arrives to do research on the Hidden Ones. Emily’s been fascinated by the Folk all her life and thus she decided to become an accomplished academic and compile an Encyclopaedia of everything that is known about the Folk. She only needs one more chapter, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get herself immersed in some fieldwork. But working with people as an introvert is not really an easy thing to do. Especially if a very annoying person shows up practically unannounced and decides to stay for the long term.
But let’s start with what worked for me. The writing style, definitely. It’s clear that Fawcett has considerable skills in waving a story. I enjoyed all the bits about the fae, the folklore, and the included tales that added to the atmosphere without being info-dumpy. The pacing was also pretty good, there weren’t any dragging parts and Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is not a fast-paced book, to begin with. The plot was engaging, although the ending felt a bit underwhelming somehow, I couldn’t exactly say, why. Maybe because everything gets solved a bit too easily, and solutions present themselves very readily. Plus, if we scratch at the surface a bit harder, then we might find that this book didn’t really have the depth one would expect from such extensive lore as the Folk can claim as theirs.
I think what stopped me from loving this book, were the characters. Especially Emily. I didn’t really like her, if I’m being honest. I kept wondering if I was *supposed* to like her. And I’m not at all sure. She is certainly headstrong, capable, smart, and has no people skills. Which is all too familiar. She has a lot of characteristics I also have and which I don’t like about myself. Even though they are not necessarily bad characteristics. It’s just that it’s too close to home which stopped me from bonding with her. But she does a bit of growing as a person throughout the book, which is pretty neat to see. Whether she has more to her, well… I can’t say for sure.
The rest of the characters, interesting as some of them were, remained kind of one-dimensional, and not as well fleshed-out as I would have liked. Although they all have their own sometimes gruesome stories to tell, it’s clear there is something mysterious going on in the village. Interestingly, I had fewer issues with Wendell as a character. Sure, he is annoying and self-centered, but the little bits written from his POV were the best. He seems a much more intriguing narrator than Emily herself. And has a much more fascinating background story as well, which doesn’t get explored nearly enough, although later books would provide plenty of opportunities.
As for the chemistry between Emily and Wendell, well… I don’t think there was much. While I understand where Emily was coming from, being uncomfortable with positive attention myself, often it felt like she was just unnecessarily cold/unfair. Like, I get it, banter’s great, I should know, it’s my love language after all, but it really didn’t work all that well between these two.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is an ambitious entry into this new series that I’m sure will find its audience. It’s perfect for curling up with on a cold winter night in a cozy nest of blankets if you want to get away for a couple of hours. It might didn’t wowed me, but it still has a charm that readers who like stories about the Folk will appreciate.