Scrollwork of flowers and bones edge the navy background with the title in an old-timey font takes up the majority of the center.

About the Book

Title: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (Emily Wilde #1)
Published: 2023

Cover Story: Montell Jordan 
BFF Charm: Yay 
Talky Talk: Scholarly Fantasy Fun 
Bonus Factors: Small Towns, Winter, Faeries, Loyal Pets 
Relationship Status: Research Partners 

Cover Story: Montell Jordan

GIF from Montell Jordan's music video "This Is How We Do It"

I totally looked this book up for the cover alone and then stayed for the story. It’s so pretty! This fancy scrollwork is a trend (unlike the cartoony romance covers) that I can get behind.  

The Deal:  

Emily Wilde is one of Cambridge’s leading minds in dryadology – the study of the Fair Folk / Faerie world. In order to finish her comprehensive reference manual on all types of fae, she’s traveled to the icy land of Ljosland (in Norway) to be the first to get concrete information on the Hidden Ones who live in the area. But Emily isn’t big on people or observing local customs, and she manages to offend the village’s leader, Aud, on her first day, which is making her trip extremely difficult.  

That’s when Emily’s Cambridge rival—and only friend—Wendell Bambleby blows into town, the consummate charmer and laziest researcher she knows, offering to help if they can co-write a paper to help him get more expedition funds. Emily has long suspected Wendell is some kind of exiled faerie, but she’s never gotten concrete proof.  

Still, if he can help her smooth over the hurt feelings with the townspeople so she can get on with her research, it might not be all bad having him around… 

BFF Charm: Yay 

Yay BFF Charm

Emily would peer at my BFF charm in bafflement and be extremely shocked that anyone would feel like they know her well enough to consider her a friend. At 30 years old, she has one dubious acquaintance, and even when she makes an attempt to be polite, she usually mucks it up. The story is written as Emily’s journal from her perspective, and it’s never really specifically mentioned but some of Emily’s social “issues” felt like she might be neurodivergent without coming out and stating it. (Her personality and the single-mindedness focus she has for research make me think of the TV character of Temperance “Bones” Brennan.) Emily has always felt like an outcast and so has hardened herself up because of it, but I like that we do see her thaw a bit, even if all of her actions aren’t totally altruistic (best to know thyself).  

Swoonworthy Scale: 

Wendell Bambleby is an absolute hoot. Would I actually date him myself or probably be massively annoyed by him in real life? Never and absolutely. But as a character, and for Emily, I love him. Everyone is charmed and taken in by Wendell’s good looks and pleasing demeanor, but those things don’t matter much to Emily at all. I love that Wendell enjoys Emily exactly for the “dragon” she is. They complement each other enough that, despite the bickering they do, their friendship—and potential more-ship—works.

This seems to be set up to be a low-stakes series; this book ends with a HFN (Happy For Now) but there’s so much these two need to discuss, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things progress. I’m sure some people are going to look at my Swoonworthy score of 6 and be like, uh, WHERE? Because this isn’t really a “kissing” book, but if y’all know me, you know the potential and the slow burn are what I LIVE FOR. 

Talky Talk: Scholarly Fantasy Fun 

I’m unfamiliar with Fawcett as an author, but I found the writing to be perfect for this story and setting. We’re in this professional journal of Emily’s, and so her writing can feel formal or academic at times, reflecting the way she thinks and speaks: there are footnotes (used sparingly, to the author’s credit) and some words I had to look up (which I honestly love. Teach me!) and the tone is that perfectly observational, dry witticism that I personally adore. I saw some people DNF’d this book because it was “too slow” or “the writing was hard to get through” and while I can see how this won’t be for everyone, I personally disagree with both of those notions heartily, but YMMV!  

I was going to provide some sample quotes, though I’ve realized too much of what I highlighted could be spoilery or is funnier in context, but here is one that I think does a good job of highlighting both character and tone (Emily herself has spent the last few weeks being very inept with the fireplace and is also annoyed as Bambleby has just arrived): 

“The fire isn’t lit because I am nearly out of firewood,” I said. I settled myself in the chair in an attempt to collect my scattered wits. “Perhaps you’d care to rectify that?”


“Henry [the assistant] will take care of all that—won’t you, dear?” Bambleby said. The faintest alarm had come upon his face at my suggestion—either he hadn’t any idea of how a fire came to be or he was in terror of dirtying his sleeves. 

The hapless Henry, who had the sharp-edged proportions of a man not a day over twenty, nodded eagerly and set to prodding the sullen wet logs with one of the candlesticks. Now, I was no enemy of poor Henry’s and should not have been amused by his ineptitude, but I will admit that I watched this performance for several minutes without comment. 

This is more adult-historical-fantasy than romance novel, so go along to fall in love with the characters and the atmosphere, and not as much for a very strong emphasis on the romantic relationship aspect (though it’s there). 

Bonus Factor: Small Towns 

A yellow sunset on the main street of a small town

The townspeople are not the most imaginative or well-read, but what they lack in sophistication they make up in warmth and hospitality. It’s clear the next book will have Emily and Wendell off on another location and adventure, but hopefully they’ll continue to run into great side characters, like farmer Krystjan during Emily’s arrival: 

“Villagers stared as you came up the road, I bet? ‘Who’s that little mouse of a thing, coming up the road?’ they were thinking. ‘She can’t be that fancy scholar we’ve been hearing about, come all the way from London. Looks like she’d never survive the journey.’ ” 

“I wouldn’t know what they were thinking about me,” I said, wondering how on earth to turn the conversation to more pressing matters. 

“Well, they told me,” he said. 

“I see.” 

Bonus Factor: Winter 

Cozy mountain house in a snowy copse of trees

Ljosland sounds cold AF but there’s something about the charm of the place that Emily secretly begins to enjoy (even as Wendell abhors the wintery landscape, much to her amusement). Some might find the beginning a bit slow, but watching Emily fumble around trying to figure out how to survive in her cowshed of a cottage and keep the fire going was amusing to say the least. Plus, everything just seems cozier when it’s cold out. 

Bonus Factor: Faeries 

Faeries Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather from Sleeping Beauty

Similar to much faerie lore, these varied, mystical creatures are not all evil or good; they just kind of exist with a somewhat self-obsessed streak. Shout-out to Poe, the bread-baking tree sprite-like creature that Emily befriends first, and the creepy changeling for being creepy. I really loved the courtly fae of this wintery realm (where the food looks great but melts as quickly as snow in your hand) and how they themselves are kind of made of ice. It was a unique take. 

Bonus Factor: Loyal Pets 

Golden retriever looking at camera while being hugged by a man

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give Shadow, Emily’s giant, black, shaggy dog, his own BF and honorary BFF charm because he’s the goodest of boys and follows directions very well. 

Relationship Status: Research Partners 

Feel free to hang out by the fire and read to me from your extensive research on faerie lore, Book. Or if you don’t want to talk, I’m good just sitting side by side and enjoying our own quiet activities. Just being around you makes me happy. 

Literary Matchmaking

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels (Dangerous Damsels #1)

India Holton’s also doing great things for fantastical historical novels with excellent observational humor in her series that begins with The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels. 

Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1)

Wendell can be just as silly as Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones though he’s not as grumpy.  

In Other Lands

Sarah Rees Brennan made her main character very unlikeable but still somehow loveable in In Other Lands and has a similar wit that I love. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased my own copy of this book. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is available now.  

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.