Review: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Dr. Emily Wilde, PhD, is a dryadologist heading to a remote Nordic island to research the local faerie population for her master work with only her dog for company. She makes good progress in her first few days with the local Fae, but perhaps less than ideal progress the villagers. Emily’s manner (which is never called out as such but is portrayed as at least slightly neurodivergent) and her inability to recognize social cues leaves her in a chilly shack with little wood, burnt food, and no help, and she doesn’t know what she’s done wrong. Still, she’s furious when her socially charming colleague, Wendell, descends uninvited on her trip with two grad students, all expecting to live with her. She’s continually displeased with his lackadaisical approach to science and academics, but with his help she uncovers far more than she’d anticipated between the village and the local Faerie population.

So yes, in this Victorian-era fantasy, Cambridge has an entire field of study for Faeries, and it is wonderful. Emily and Wendell are hilariously snarky with each other. Emily is amusingly aware of her shortcomings when she’s being a person (as opposed to a scientist), and her awkwardness gets her into all sorts of trouble. In a beautiful blend of Nordic tale and cosy romance, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries has a mix of dark moments set against the backdrop of Norse stoicism and icy winter, but it also has lovely moments of connection for Emily, who seems better at getting along with the Fae than she does with humans.

Written in a diary format, this book is fast paced and, much like time spent in the Fae world, is likely to make you lose time. I lost sleep on Friday night and no little time on Saturday afternoon because I couldn’t put the story down. Fawcett’s Emily Wilde is a fabulous character, and I can’t wait for the second book in this series. Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is available now. Go read it: it’s lovely.

Related: how does one petition the local university to include “Dryadology” as a major? I’m all for it!

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