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Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett (book review)

GENRE: Adult Cozy/Historical Fantasy

LENGTH: 317 pages


Emily Wilde is a professor and scholar of dryadology (the study of faeries). She travels to the town of Hrafnsvik to study the illusive species of faeries known as Hidden Ones that live there. She is joined by her long time academic rival Wendell Brambleby.


Emily is an interesting choice for a protagonist because she’s quite prickly. As a fellow introvert, I can relate to her in some regards, but her behavior isn’t always endearing to the other characters or the book’s readers. To contrast that, however, throughout the novel she does do things that can be considered heroic. She claims she does these things for research purposes, but I perceived it as her defrosting.

Brambleby is often described by Emily as being charming and he does tend to draw people in. He is also very capricious, however, and despite the villagers warming to him faster than Emily he doesn’t genuinely care for them. He does seem to truly care for Emily, though, and he is her love interest in this novel. I love when the love interest flirts via playful teasing and that is most definitely Brambleby’s style. I will be interested in seeing how their relationship develops in the sequel.

There are a number of side characters (the villagers of Hrafnsik). They're all lovely but my favorites are Aud and Thora. They're two formidable women. Aud is the warm, motherly leader to the villagers and Thora is a wise elder and the first villager who really understands Emily.


The novel is told primarily through the first person perspective of Emily. On the surface the way the novel is written is pretty standard. It’s actually meant to be read as though it is the personal journal of Emily as she records her experiences in Hrafnsik (presumably to later be used when writing her section of the encyclopedia regarding the Hidden Ones). That mixed media element is what drew me in initially.

The novel features a good amount of footers which is not something I typically like. That being said, I liked how it was used here with Emily referring other research works of dryadology. It gives the idea that this a real field of scientific study within the world of this novel more credence.

This is a cozy/historical fantasy that takes place in the early 1900s. The setting really feels like you are at this wintry village at the end of the world. There isn’t a lot of plot that’s tying this story together. The plot that is there is pretty meandering. I do like getting glimpses of the faerie realms and the way the faeries themselves are written. The faeries have this deathly beautiful quality that draws one in as much as it frightens them. The person I’d recommend this book to is someone who read the Folk of Air trilogy by Holly Black when they were a bit younger as both novels follow a human girl who is immersed in the world of faeries.


The plot may be paper thin, but I still enjoyed my reading experience with this book. If faeries were actually real and dryadology was something that could be studied in college you can bet that would have been the path that I would have pursued! Even though Emily isn’t a warm fuzzy type I liked her arc. I hope she continues to grow as a character in the sequel.


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