cover image Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries

Heather Fawcett. Del Rey, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-50013-2

In Fawcett’s slow-moving but atmospheric debut adult fantasy (after YA Even the Darkest Stars), a socially awkward Cambridge professor heads to the frost-coated fictional country of Ljosland in an alternate 1909 where tangling with faeries is commonplace. The tale is presented as the journal of dryadologist Emily Wilde as she documents her research for the eponymous encyclopedia. These journal entries work well at giving readers a window into the voice and personality of an extremely introverted and detached heroine, but they don’t make the aloof, academic Emily any easier to root for. As Emily becomes more involved with the Ljosland locals and their faerie troubles—and meets a changeling fae, who has swapped places with a local infant—Wendell Bambleby, Emily’s colleague, professional rival, and only friend, arrives, claiming to want to help. Emily’s less than thrilled, as she distrusts Wendell’s methods and suspects that he himself may be a fae. Though the first entry in Emily’s journal hints at the high stakes of her work, the plot itself is more concerned with unpacking her relationships; danger doesn’t rear its head until the very end. Still, the extensive faerie lore and lush descriptions of the wintry setting make this fantasy worth picking up. Agent: Brianne Johnson, HG Literary. (Jan.)