I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley as part of the blog tour organised by Compulsive Readers. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
Published: January 2023
Enter the world of the hidden folk – and discover the most whimsical, enchanting and heart-warming tale you’ll read this year, featuring the intrepid Emily Wilde. . .
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 encylopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at 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.
But as Emily gets closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones – the most elusive of all faeries – 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.
Filled with enchanting magic, heart-warming romance and a heroine you can’t help but love, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is the perfect read for fans of The Ten Thousand Doors of January and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is a delightfully cosy light academia fantasy, perfect for these grey January days. I tend to really enjoy books featuring fae, and this was no exception!
Emily is a really interesting character. She is devoted to her research and highly introverted, struggling to read social cues and feel comfortable around strangers, which makes it very hard for her to befriend the locals of the remote village of Hrafnsvik when she arrives there to conduct the final part of her research. Which would be fine if she didn’t desperately need their help to uncover the secrets of the Hidden Ones, the most elusive faeries of them all. As if she wasn’t having enough problems, her academic rival Wendell Bambleby decides to invite himself along to help with her research.
I really liked seeing how Emily’s relationships with other characters developed: she is guarded and slow to trust, but fiercely loyal to those who make it past her protective shell. Bambleby was so much fun and I loved all the bickering between the two of them, as well as all the ways he tried to make Emily feel more comfortable. The side characters were also fantastic! The village really came alive and I loved getting to know them as they learned to understand Emily. The bonds that developed between characters were really well constructed, in a way that felt natural and realistic.
The worldbuilding was another element I enjoyed. The book is written in journal form as Emily’s field notes, so it does lean quite heavily towards exposition by its very nature. This is one of the few things I wasn’t too keen on, but it did end up working well to provide context and clearly explain the rules of the world. It was dangerous and magical, as it often is when fae are involved, with every clearing hiding a secret and each tree oozing magic. The lore was rich and deep and so, so interesting to discover. Emily’s ability to relate to the faeries was extremely interesting to witness and I loved every scene in which she interacted with them. I struggled a bit with the journal form at the beginning as it felt very slow (both in structure and language), but as soon as Bambleby arrived the story picked up its pace and soon I was fully hooked!
Overall, this is a light and cosy read featuring unforgettable characters, faerie court intrigues, academic research and a slow-burn romance, topped with a generous sprinkling of humour and danger: basically most of my favourite things! I’ll definitely be looking forward to the second book.