Fairyloot Adult #10: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries

Originally, Fairyloot’s focus was on Young-Adult Fantasy books, but that changed in 2022 with the launch of their Adult Fantasy Book-Only subscription. As a subscriber to their regular YA subscription, I was given priority to sign up for this new service, and as a book and fantasy enthusiast, I just couldn’t resist.

The tenth edition of this subscription was delivered to me on the very last day of 2022 and was one I had been looking forward to. How could it be otherwise with a theme like Faerie Lore. I only need to hear a hint of fairy tales or fairies and my interest is piqued. And this is exactly what the book in this box promised, with a bit of academic rivalry, teasing and romance thrown in the mix too!

And the book is Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett.

The cover for the Fairyloot edition has the same illustration as the regular English edition, but in an exclusive colour palette. Although I am usually a fan of purple, I like the original colours with the red mushrooms better.

The book under the cover is completely to my taste though. I really like the deep purple color and the cover art by @chatty.nora. The spray-painted page edges complete the picture, although I am already too spoiled in that aspect and therefore less impressed by the simple two-tone illustrations.
However, the illustrations on the flyleaves by @kudriaken are very detailed and fit beautifully with the whole.
Also very nice that the book is signed by the author.

The whole picture is again a big compliment to Fairyloot with this very beautiful, fairy-like edition. But what about the contents of the book?
I really try to do my best to read these new acquisitions in good time, in order to get an idea of whether this bookbox subscription is worth the money for the content of the books (I have absolutely no doubt that they do based on their outsides). I finished this book in April, just over three months after receiving it.

Heather Fawcett – Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries ★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north to study faerie folklore and discovers dark fae magic, friendship, and love, in this heartwarming and enchanting fantasy.

Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is good at many things: She is the foremost expert on the study of faeries. She is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world’s first encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party–or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other people.

So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk, get in the middle of Emily’s research, and utterly confound and frustrate her.

But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones–the most elusive of all faeries–lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: Who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she’ll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all–her own heart.

A story about scientific field research on faeries.? Can a book scream my name any more?! And I’m so glad that for once it lived up to the hype for me, because I absolutely loved this!

“One doesn’t need magic if one knows enough stories.”

I went in with a lot of trepidation, fearing my too high expectations, and this may have contributed to the somewhat shaky start, but once I managed to just let the story wash over me, I was enthralled.

“I suppose most children fall in love with faeries at some point, but my fascination was never about magic or the granting of wishes. The Folk were of another world, with its own rules and customs—and to a child who always felt ill-suited to her own world, the lure was irresistible.”

The main reason for my slow start is undoubtedly the storytelling style. It took some getting used to, because we are told the story entirely through journal entries of our main character Emily. Since Emily is a bit of an acquired taste, I had to find my footing, but I quickly grew fond of her and the way she views the world and people.

“Stories, after all, are so fundamental to their world; one cannot hope to understand the Folk without understanding their stories.”

The story is charming and endearing, but also scary and unsettling at times.
The fae in this book span the gamut from the cutesy folkloric to the creepy aloof. I found it really fascinating to read about all of them, but sometimes those additional stories were oddly placed within the overarching narrative. This did detract somewhat from the immersiveness and pacing, and made the whole feel rather incohesive.

“it didn’t feel at all like the proper ending to such a story.”

I also found the ending rather abrupt and underdeveloped. It felt really incomplete and left me somewhat unsatisfied, so I was happy to discover that there will be a sequel. Which does not change the fact that I would have like more depth and consistency in this story.

Overall however, I really enjoyed reading this cozy, quirky and lovely story and I will gladly dive back into this world when the sequel comes out.