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Thursday, January 19, 2023

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett (Reviewed by Shazzie)


 


Buy the book here - U.S. | U.K.

Author website


OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Heather Fawcett is a Canadian author of books for adults, kids, and teens, including the Even the Darkest Stars series, Ember and the Ice Dragons, The Language of Ghosts, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, and more. Her books have been translated into more than ten languages and somehow all include dragons in one form or another. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature and a Bachelor’s in Archaeology. She lives on Vancouver Island.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: 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.

FORMAT/INFO: The book was published on 10th January 2023 by Del Rey in the U.S. and by Orbit Books in the U.K on 19th January, 2023. It is available in hardcover, ebook and audio formats, and contains 315 pages.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I was told that this book was the publisher's early Christmas present, and it definitely lived up to that promise. But I am sure that any review I write will not do it justice, I just loved it so much.

We have Emily Wilde, a professor of dryadology, as she travels with her boarhound Shadow, to Ljosland - an isolated Scandinavian country - from London, to study the fae, or as she calls them, "the hidden ones". She prefers books to people, is rather grumpy and lacks social skills, states that she is useless at "amiable chatter" and "largely incapable of making conversation of a personal nature". She is an overachiever of sorts, the youngest professor hired by Cambridge, and mostly dreams of the being the only explorer in the field of unchartered scientific territory. That's pretty much all that her life revolves around.

Picture, if you will, the entrance of her male coworker, Wendell Bambleby, who is as good at making social advances as she is bad at them, and is the only friend she has. Not that she wants him to be around her exploration, she is horrified that he bothered to land in the same village as she did, to study the same folk she wanted to, and ends up staying in the same cottage as her.His methods of work are different from hers, she is more hands on and willing to do the dirty work while he is used to bossing his students around, and she has some unconfirmed suspicions about him.

The whole book is written from the first person, in the form of an academic journal where Emily details her experiences, and I have to say, I really love the sly biting tone in her narration, especially as far as Bambleby is concerned. They end up working together for their own reasons that are revealed over the courses of the story, and it was an absolute joy to see the growth in their relationship. However, I feel that the marketing of this book might not be fully honest, there is a romantic element in this book, but I don't think I'd go far enough to call it a romance. Whatever it is, I had the best time reading it.

The worldbuilding in this book (mostly) happens with Emily explaining her findings, or things from her experience to us through this journal. You'd think that an academic recall would be boring, but the author deftly proves us wrong by pacing the book that sprinkles a generous amount of fae lore within the context of all the events happening, with meticulous attention to detail. I really enjoyed reading faerie taxonomy without it reading like a dry lesson stuffed with details that would be hard to keep track of. I am simply astonished by the amount of minute details and different events that are charmingly packed into just 300 odd pages.

I wouldn't call Emily and Wendell enemies, but their banter was fun to read, parts of the book were hilarious, and I can't wait to see what they get upto in the next book. It would be a shame if the only relationship we got to see develop in this book was theirs, but fear not, Heather Fawcett has you covered with many heartwarming scenes that show the bond between Emily and the villagefolk (and maybe more) form and grow.

This book also has the distinction of being the only one that uses metaphor without me wanting to set it aside. It has remarkable imagery that made me feel like I was present as an observer on field with Emily and Wendell.

CONCLUSION: In short, this book is utterly charming, and an absolute delight. I am waiting to get hold of the next book, and think that this is perfect for the season, so go get yourself a copy. It is only January, but I can tell you, with absolute conviction, that this will end up on my favourites list for the year. I see myself fondly re-reading it every winter, and think it deserves a place of pride on all bookshelves.

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