Thursday, December 1, 2022



Rating: 3.5/5 stars 

Emily Wilde is a dryadologist from Cambridge on a research trip in the early 1900s on a tiny island in northern Scandinavia off the coast of Norway, researching their Hidden Ones, or their faeries, for her faerie encyclopaedia. One day, Emily’s academic counterpart Wendell (Is he a rival? A friend?) arrives at her cabin with his two assistants and insists on helping her with her field research. Their camaraderie and discoveries end up changing the lives of all those who live in the tiny village they’re staying in, as well as all those who reside through the door in the faerie realms. 

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia is a more academic-focused take on fae, at least for the first half of the book. Emily and Wendell are trying to learn as much as they can about the faeries that live in these northern regions, and the novel is written in journal-like entries that Emily is recording for her research. There are also footnotes, as if this book were a real academic encyclopaedia. 

This book reminded me of a grown-up version of The Spiderwick Chronicles. It’s about fae, but it focuses more on the tiny sprite variety of faeries. There are “courtly fae” as they are called in this book, the adult romantic type, and there are “common fae,” the smaller varieties of fae found in the wild. The common fae are more the focus of Emily’s research, but both types are heavily present in this novel. 

I really enjoyed the first 75% of the story and overall had no complaints, but the last 25% lost me. I wish the focus of the novel had remained on the academic side of common fae and less on the courtly fae toward the end. The whole Hidden King and courtly politics bit felt cliched and overdone, in my opinion, and it pulled the story in a different direction than felt natural. I thought Heather Fawcett had a unique idea for writing a fae story about the smaller more traditional types of faeries, but then the adult-sized romantic and courtly fae came into play, and the story kind of lost its magical quality for me and started to feel like all the other fae novels out there. I liked the beginning and middle a lot more when the story was more focused on the common fae and the research aspect. 

The novel did not end on a cliffhanger, even though this is the first of a series. I have no idea what the sequel will be about since this volume tied up the plot it presented at the beginning, but I also don’t feel a large inclination to continue the series. I like neat endings, and since there weren’t any loose threads left, and since I was kind of turned off by the direction the story went in anyway, I am likely going to just treat this book like a standalone in my mind. 

Overall, I did enjoy Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries quite a bit and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a soft and wholesome novel about faeries. The story features a mix of folklore, history, romance, and fantasy set in a lush and cozy wintery landscape. I thought the book was well-written and had good characters, for the most part. It read a little younger than I expected it to and the plot went in a direction I wasn’t entirely pleased with, but overall I still had a fun time reading this book and I think many people will really enjoy it as well. 

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