EMILY WILDE’S ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF FAERIES by Heather Fawcett.
Orbit Books. h/b. £14.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
Professor Emily Wilde was, in fact, the youngest professor to have been appointed to Cambridge University, where she has happily spent her years researching and documenting the various courtly and common faerie folk around the world. All of her first-hand experiences she records in her journal that will, when published, form a comprehensive encyclopaedia of faeries. Her latest journey takes her to the cold shores of Ljosland on the outskirts of the Arctic Circle.
Emily and her dog, Shadow, arrive in the village of Hrafnsvik to a cold cottage and a welcome that all too soon turns cold. For some reason, the locals are no longer willing to help, and Emily finds herself living in stark hardship where the simplest of tasks become arduous or unmanageable. Alone, save the hound, her journal and an inert faerie stone, Emily doggedly pursues her research.
Little does she know that the unexpected arrival of her pompous and pushy Cambridge colleague, Wendell Bambleby, will send her expedition somewhat off its expected course.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries follows Emily’s journey as she recounts first-hand the events that shape her time in Scandinavia and beyond. She had always suspected Bambleby of hiding a significant secret, and as survival forces them together, her suspicions are answered. The faerie folk, as always, thrive on bargains and tricks, and the villagers are equally complex and obtuse.
Emily herself has a fantastic narrative voice. She does not suffer fools gladly, and her pursuit of academia is singular, the narrow focus bringing consequences as she misreads social situations and neglects to get caught up in the more mundane aspects of life. There is just the right balance of wit, magic and folklore in this story to allow full immersion and escapism for the duration. A highly enjoyable tale of the fae.