A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north to study faerie folklore and discovers dark fae magic, friendship, and love, in this heartwarming and enchanting fantasy.
Cambridge professor 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 encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party–or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other 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, who manages to charm the townsfolk, get in the middle of Emily’s research, and utterly confound and frustrate her.
But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones–the most elusive of all faeries–lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, 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.
I had a love/I don’t get it kind of relationship with this book. I’ve seen it described as a cozy fantasy, and I’d agree. I can count on one hand how many cozies I’ve read and although the style of writing is enjoyable, this started very slowly for me. Many other reviewers had wonderful things to say about this novel, so I stuck with it. Before long, it felt like I was visiting with old friends.
Emily is a die-hard introvert, preferring her books, research, and dog to people. I can respect that. Small talk makes her nervous, she’s socially awkward, and has very few friends (if any). Wendell is the opposite. He prefers to be around people, but mostly so he can be the center of attention. Initially he comes off as a narcissist/diva, but over the course of the story his layers fall away and underneath the facade lies a good heart. Although academic rivals, one of my favorite things is the camaraderie and banter between Emily and Wendell.
Emily meets both new and familiar types of faeries and finds herself in some dangerous predicaments. Not all faeries are friendly. Between her research, determination to rid a family of a changeling, and quest to find two missing women, Emily begins to realize maybe she enjoys the company of the townfolk more than she’d thought. Maybe it’s a place where she fits.
It might have taken me a while to really get behind this novel, but before long I couldn’t put it down. I was thrilled to learn this is the first in a series, and I’ll be looking forward to spending more time with Emily and Wendell.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.