Recently, the way I use audiobooks has changed. I most often listen to books I’ve already read in print, rather than my previous habit of listening to long sci-fi and fantasy, or non-fiction books. I blame the pandemic, which has permanently changed my brain (I miss tv shows and movies, but my brain won’t go there). Regardless, I acquired the audiobook version of Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries and listened while I baked batches of cookies and loaves of bread. No apple cakes or pies, though. Maybe next time. I think part of my ability to sink into the narration was that so many people whose reviews I enjoy have loved it. I could trust that I wasn’t going to get walloped by awful – though there was one moment that I decided I should fast forward through.
Emily Wilde has traveled from Cambridge University to Iceland (as Malin notes, not Norway) in 1909 to study the Hidden Ones, a subset of Faery Folk whose existence is disputed within the field of dryadology. With her dog Shadow, who joins the pantheon of excellent fantasy dogs (Kate Daniel’s Grendel and Harry Dresden’s Mouse come to mind), Emily intends to complete her work on an encyclopedia and secure her reputation as a leading scholar, despite having abysmal people skills. She makes progress with a small faery she names Poe. Her faery successes aside, she’s doing so badly with the locals that she’s in danger of freezing and starving. Until Wendell Bambleby arrives with his grad students, his charm, his secrets, and his appreciation for Emily.
As the book is comprised mostly of Emily’s journal entries, Ell Potter narrates most of the book. She does a great job. I knew, going in, that there is a romance between Emily and Wendell, but I forgot because Potter so clearly communicates Emily’s frustration and occasional rage at Wendell. It’s only when Wendell breaks in as narrator and a few repetitions of “my dear dragon,” that I saw the shape of this slow burn romance.
I can’t wait to open the next book, and fortunately I have an arc, so I don’t need to.
CW: kidnapping, self mutation, ax injury, enchantment, theft of children, assassination plots, murder.