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January 5, 2023

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett ~ a Review

by MK French

Emily Wilde is writing the world’s first encyclopaedia of faerie lore and is terrible with people. Small talk and parties are not her forte, not when she can stay with her books, dog, and research. Arriving in Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of making friends or getting to know her academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who easily charms everyone. Emily is close to uncovering the truth about the most elusive of fairies, the Hidden Ones, within the forest outside of town. She is also trying to figure out Wendell Bambleby, and what he wants or could possibly mean to her.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of fantasy novel Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Fairies by Heather Fawcett
January 2023; Del Rey; 978-0593500132
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); fantasy

It's never explicitly stated so, but I can't help but wonder if Emily is somewhere on the spectrum. The book takes the form of her journal, and she has not only the formal speech of an 1800s Cambridge professor but will reference journal articles and place footnotes which she explains in further detail. She has no idea why she is so prickly or why most people don't like her, and can't make the intuitive connections for others' emotional states or motivations the way Bambleby can. Her focus is only on her work, on categorizing the fairies and their tales and completing the encyclopedia in the hopes of getting full tenure. Bambleby has that easily, despite his (to Emily, at least) lack of reputable means of obtaining data. He's willing to invite her to an international conference and make introductions, and of course, she attributes this to ulterior motives to undermine or steal her work. She's so driven and single-minded; this is an admirable trait to some extent but does isolate her from others in the village. We can easily see how she had trouble in London.

Bambleby charms others easily but is drawn to Emily and is determined to help her, even without the upcoming conference. He knows full well how dangerous the Tall Ones are, and how insidious ensorcelment can be. While she has the intention of gathering more information about the fae, she does help people in the village and is shocked that they want to help her in turn. Even the most learned of people can be trapped and need help, and she learned that receiving it isn't the worst thing that could happen to her. Emily can still be her gruff self, uncomfortable with crowds and stretching the truth or her scholarly pursuits, but she has opened up to others as well. The ending is a bit ambiguous, so we can imagine the many different futures she can have. I think it's a positive one, and I enjoyed this book.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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