Tuesday was release day for Heather Fawcett’s newest book Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands and THIS review should have come out then but for two things. The first little thing is the cold wave choking Texas AND how much it’s become a pain in the keister for me and my pool. (I hope to never have one again.) The second was that I was horrified to discover that I didn’t write on the blog about her FIRST book in this series, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, which was, quite frankly (and in a poor but accurate choice of words,) amazeballs. (My apologies to the kind people at Del Rey/Penguin Random House who provided me with advanced copies of the books. Please don’t hold that against me when the third book in the series comes out.)
Because yes, there will be a third book to wrap up the series. I’m very excited. And impatient.
To rectify this situation, I’m going to review both books because YES THEY ARE THAT GOOD. To be fair, you definitely do NOT need to have read Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries in order to enjoy Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands. But you should read the first one, because the world building is just INCREDIBLE and the characters of Emily Wilde and her colleague Wendell Bambleby are really well established, and you get to know them so well that it would be a shame to SKIP it. In fact, never mind what I said – you really need to read Faeries first. Just trust me on this.
(Disclaimer to get out of the way: I was provided with an advance copy of these books. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.)
So: I started off 2023 falling in love with Fawcett’s first book in the series, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, and it seemed fitting to END the year with Emily’s next adventure. I squealed a little bit when I was given an ARC of Map of the Otherlands, and I read it in a single sitting.
Humor me while I do this backwards and introduce you FIRST toEmily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
Series: Emily Wilde #1
Published by Random House Worlds on January 10, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Action & Adventure, Fiction / Fantasy / Romance
Buy on Amazon
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north in this “incredibly fun journey through fae lands and dark magic” (NPR), the start of a heartwarming and enchanting new fantasy series.
“A darkly gorgeous fantasy that sparkles with snow and magic.”—Sangu Mandanna, author of The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, NPR, PopSugar, Polygon, The Globe and Mail, She Reads
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, muddle 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.
Book One of the Emily Wilde Series
Ok, first of all, there is nothing cute and Disney-like about the faeries in the world of Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries. These faeries were dark and feral and had teeth. The setting was cold and brittle and evocative and sometimes unsettling, and definitely an adventure.
It also had easy to love characters in both Emily Wilde and Wendell Bambleby (a colleague, and at least initially, a bit of a competitor). They both turned out to be far more complex than I expected at the start. And of course, we get a tiny bit of the enemies to lovers (admirers?) trope here, as there is some low-stakes romance brewing, but it’s a cozy romance.
Emily is an academic, focused on her study of the fae and her ambitious compilation of a full encyclopaedia of faeries. And with her focus is a strong inability to connect and know how to properly interact with other people, which doesn’t help her endear herself to them when she ends up in a cold, remote village somewhere in Scandinavia with townsfolk who aren’t entirely trusting or welcoming of her and she isn’t prepared for things like chopping her own wood to keep her barren cottage warm. (My teen thought she screamed neurodivergent.)
And then Wendell shows up unexpectedly and quite uninvited, and he’s everything she’s not – undisciplined, extremely extroverted, (borderline insufferable at times) and manages to just wrap the townspeople around his fingers (maddeningly so to Emily). He also proves to be a mystery himself. Just who IS he, and why, as an academic, is he so – unacademic? Why IS he there? The tension and push/pull (or love/hate) between these two (mostly on Emily’s side) is so much fun to watch.
I also really loved the lore of the area, and adding in the language, the local creatures – everything was fresh and mesmerizing.
That said, at times the plot pace was slow, and the language could get overly flowery (but I put it off to the time period it was set in). Also, if you aren’t a lover of footnotes, be warned – Emily uses a lot of them in her journal entries.
Overall, I could not put it down – five stars from me.
Ok, now that we’ve covered the first book in the series, onto Fawcett’s newest release in the series: Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands.Emily Wilde's Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett
Series: Emily Wilde #2
Published by Random House Worlds on January 16, 2024
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Action & Adventure
Buy on Amazon
When mysterious faeries from other realms appear at her university, curmudgeonly professor Emily Wilde must uncover their secrets before it’s too late, in this heartwarming, enchanting second installment of the Emily Wilde series.
Emily Wilde is a genius scholar of faerie folklore who just wrote the world’s first comprehensive encyclopaedia of faeries. She’s learned many of the secrets of the Hidden Ones on her adventures . . . and also from her fellow scholar and former rival Wendell Bambleby.
Because Bambleby is more than infuriatingly charming. He’s an exiled faerie king on the run from his murderous mother and in search of a door back to his realm. And despite Emily’s feelings for Bambleby, she’s not ready to accept his proposal of marriage: Loving one of the Fair Folk comes with secrets and dangers.
She also has a new project to focus on: a map of the realms of faerie. While she is preparing her research, Bambleby lands her in trouble yet again, when assassins sent by his mother invade Cambridge. Now Bambleby and Emily are on another adventure, this time to the picturesque Austrian Alps, where Emily believes they may find the door to Bambleby’s realm and the key to freeing him from his family’s dark plans.
But with new relationships for the prickly Emily to navigate and dangerous Folk lurking in every forest and hollow, Emily must unravel the mysterious workings of faerie doors and of her own heart.
Book Two of the Emily Wilde Series
So now we know who Emily is and what she’s like, and we know who Wendell is (no spoilers!) In Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands, we find Emily working on a new project, this time working on a map of the faerie realms. Her work at the university is interrupted by a man covered in ribbons who keeps seems to be speaking in riddles or odd messages, and she doesn’t know who he is. There’s another scholar whose work she is chasing – and who went missing while doing her own research – and Emily is soon tracing her footsteps in her hunt for connections to these faerie realms. Will she find a connection between the two?
The book starts at her school in Cambridge and takes us to the Alps, and then into another cold faerie realm. There is magic – particularly in the artifacts that the school holds (and Emily borrows), as in Emily’s cape, which is amazingly helpful and I would like my own immediately. There are also more terrifying creatures to discover as they encounter more misadventures with a clever, stubbornly focused Emily, Barnaby, and unexpected traveling companions: her niece Ariadne, and fellow professor Farris Rose.
I do wish that Farris Rose’s character had been more developed and involved, and I wish we had seen MORE of the locals as we did in the first book. Also, the footnotes are present in this book, and can be a bit distracting at times.
Her world building is fantastic, and the story is just fun. This is a lovely cozy fantasy with a light romantic plot line that doesn’t take center stage.
I really enjoyed the story and its not-fluffy world of fairytale like creatures that you don’t want to meet in the dark.