This book is almost a million miles from my usual preferred genres, but I decided that in 2023 I would push my boundaries, a little, and challenge myself to read outside my usual styles. I’m ever so glad that I made that decision.
Thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers and Orbit Books for my advance reading copy, gifted to me via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. You can read my thoughts below.
Enter the world of the hidden folk – and discover the most whimsical, enchanting and heart-warming tale you’ll read this year, featuring the intrepid Emily Wilde. . .
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 encylopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at 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
But as Emily gets closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones – the most elusive of all faeries – 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.
Filled with enchanting magic, heart-warming romance and a heroine you can’t help but love, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is the perfect read for fans of The Ten Thousand Doors of January and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
‘A darkly gorgeous fantasy that sparkles with snow and magic, this book wholly enchanted me’
Sangu Mandanna, author of The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
‘Forget dark academia: give me instead this kind of winter-sunshined, sharp-tongued and footnoted academia, full of field trips and grumpy romance’
Freya Marske, author of A Marvellous Light
‘The ideal book to curl up with on a chilly winter’s evening. . . this book is an absolute delight.’
Megan Bannen, author of The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy
This is a wow book. I would probably have left it on the shelf if I hadn’t decided to push my boundaries. What a great decision that was. There was no gentle entry into the world of mythical creatures as we join Emily on her journey to Hrafnsvik. I decided that it was somewhere in the region of Iceland, but it could be anywhere in the Scandinavian world.
Emily is studying the lives of the Hidden Ones, those most elusive members of the faerie world. As I turned the pages, I was transported back to my childhood, reading the works of Enid Blyton. My older self had forgotten how enchanted I once was by tales from the faerie kingdoms. But this is not a book aimed at children; the stories are significantly darker and there’s plenty to unsettle even the most stoic of readers.
What I hadn’t expected was that at the very heart of the story, buried deep within this magical world, would be a love story. Nothing over the top with hearts and flowers, just a simple connection that would strengthen as the story picked up the tempo.
Emily is a singularly studious type who is determined to be recognised amongst her peers as a respected knowledge on the faerie world. To achieve this, she is convinced that she should have no dealings with the rather odd, Wendell Bambleby. In fact, she doesn’t quite understand how he’s become so respected when he does little more than over-indulge in food, alcohol, and women.
This is definitely a book that I hadn’t realised that I needed to read. I was gently pulled into a different dimension where magical happenings were the norm. Where changelings could live in a human household and faerie kings could be trapped inside a tree.
Despite the setting in the mythical realm, the messages remained the same as in our world, and it all came down to good triumphing over evil. Despite making a rather poor first impression, Emily’s kind yet determined nature created friendships that would help and support her when she most needed it most.
Take a leap of faith, like I did, and escape to a land of faeries where magic is just a wish away.
Take a look at the other stops on this magical tour