REVIEW: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

Heather Fawcett’s debut Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries isn’t exactly dark academia. It is almost the opposite of that in every way, though it shares many of the same traits and feelings–a book uniquely its own, but with nods to current trends and clear appeal to fans of those. Emily Wilde is a crotchety Cambridge scholar–out on fieldwork. She is a brilliant academic and Faerie anthropologist, but people? Those she doesn’t understand very well. Together with her research partner Wendell Brambleby she learns everything there is to know about Ljosland’s Faeries, is drawn into unexpected real-life adventure and–just maybe–learns something about humans along the way too.

Cover for Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries: Book One of the Emily Wilde SeriesEmily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is written in the form of Emily’s diary–giving us very close insight into her mind. This also means the writing style isn’t going to click with everyone. It is rather dry, academic prose, recounting events in a matter-of-fact manner. I suspect Emily is written as Neurodivergent, though it is not made explicit in the text and this is pure speculation on my part as a (fellow) ND individual. For me, the writing was a large part of the charm. It’s not a story that the reader is told as much as field notes of a researcher, not intended for readers–it has something clandestine about it to read, which makes for a fun experience. The story is also full of scholarly footnotes, adding anthropological and historical information for the reader. I loved this, as I do all novels with footnotes–but I know this won’t be for everyone. I do recommend picking up a sample of Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries first if you’re intrigued but torn about narration.

Emily is not the easiest character to like–because of the writing style, characters don’t seem as plastic as they may be and she is thorny and introverted. To me, certainly, she had a lot of charm and the more I read, the more I felt with her and her struggles. I did find that the romance in the story wasn’t as built up as I would like, but again, I think that is a conscious choice on the part of the narration through a research diary rather than a flaw of the writing per se. Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is the sort of stories that will get a marmite reaction out of readers–either it works well for you, or it doesn’t work at all.

The themes of belonging and social pressure make this a timely read, and my reading of Emily herself as neurodivergent made Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries stand out to me. A very interesting debut, and I look forward to seeing where the story goes and how Heather Fawcett develops as a writer!

Read Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

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Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne Schwizer

Fabienne can usually be found with her nose in a book or two. Most of her life revolves around words, be that reading, writing, or editing. You can find more of her ramblings over on www.libridraconis.com, where she also reviews YA books and more lighthearted Fantasy and Science Fiction, as @FLSchwizer on Twitter, and @libri_draconis on Instagram. If you're curious about what she is currently reading, check out www.goodreads.com/libridraconis.