I went into this book knowing very little about it, and it ended up surprising me! I’d seen it described as a cosy little fantasy, which isn’t untrue, but I do think undersells the premise and what this book manages to achieve. This book blends fantasy, history, folklore, mystery and even a little romance, to create the ultimate magical fae read.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is presented as our protagonist Emily Wilde’s academic journal during a research trip to deepest darkest Scandinavia, where she plans to learn more about the local Folk (faeries). The book starts as a historical fantasy, and as Emily learns more and more about the local fae, evolves into pure faerie tale.
I loved Emily as a protagonist. She’s definitely prickly, I found her struggles with social awkwardness incredibly relatable and thoughtfully written. Fawcett definitely nailed Emily’s tone of voice, and I felt like I got to know and understand her very quickly. We get a grumpy-sunshine romance with her and Wendell, who may be my new favourite book boyfriend. I loved their interactions, for two academics they spend very little time explaining their love and affection for each other, and much more time showing it, which I adored.
The book definitely maintains a cozy vibe throughout, but there’s certainly an undercurrent of darkness to be found, the ongoing mysteries of what is happening in the village, through to some downright gruesome scenes towards the end of the book when we’re deep in the land of the fae. Personally I loved this dark edge to the book, it really added depth and kept me hooked from start to finish.
Something I think this book does really well is blend the fantasy genre with a more scholarly tone. The journal format of the book works really well for this, providing an excuse for Emily’s more personal anecdotes as well as a way for the author to provide us with more academic style expositions on the way of faeries and magical lore. Footnotes are utilised sparingly to provide deeper insight to ‘faerie academic theory’, but not so frequently that the book becomes a dry, academic read.
A perfect light academia read for anyone with a love of folklore.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is out January 19th and I highly recommend picking it up. You can find it on Amazon here and at your local indie bookstore.
Read if you liked: Howl’s Moving Castle, The Cruel Prince, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, House of Hollow.
Thanks to the publishers for an advanced copy of this book.