By Heather Fawcett
This book was almost voted in as one of our last book club reads. We ran a run-off vote between this and the next highest one and ended up with Birnam Wood, so I was interested in picking it up and giving it a try after I had finished with my TBR this month. Well, I definitely enjoyed it more than Birnam Wood, and was even able to finish it – pity we had the re-vote 😆.
Emily Wilde is a rather staid academic who specialises in the Fae. I would say she is probably also autistic. Through the years, in addition to her scientific papers, she has been working on a book: an encyclopaedia of Faeries. She travels 5 days by ship from London (it being the early 1900s) to a small village on a Nordic island for the final chapter. She has heard of their Hidden Ones and wants to discover this unknown Fae type.
Shortly after her arrival, she is joined by a colleague, and rival, Wembly Bambleby. Despite Emily having planned the study and done all the research to date, he magnanimously offers to join forces and be able to present as co-authors at the big conference that she has never been invited to, but that he is a keynote speaker at. And despite his tendency to do very little actual research (using his students to do all of the work), and that she has no need of a partner coming in and claiming half of the credit, she agrees. After all, how else will she get an entre to the echelons of the academic world to which she aspires. This scenario pissed me off – largely because it is based on fact. This is exactly what so many female scientists/academics have had to deal with.
The local village has been impacted by the Fae to a much higher degree than is usual. Emily ends up helping to deal with some of the trouble, that resulted in the loss of one child and two young women. She did so from a position of having knowledge of how to deal with the Fae, but also from her own academic curiosity. More so than that she actually cared about the people involved.
The relationship that started to build between Emily and Wembly didn’t strike me as very real, or comfortable. As this is the first book in a series, of at least two books, that the author is writing, I’m sure that we will see this develop further. This book was written as the personal journey of Emily and so we get to see a lot of her thoughts behind the events, and the way she thinks. I think this does work, but it makes it harder to believe in this relationship.
After the story concluded, there is a new legend of the Fae that is added at the end. This, Emily has added into her journal as a “reference for later”. It had absolutely no connection to the story, and no purpose other than to introduce book two. And as such, it weakened the ending substantially.
On the whole, I enjoyed reading this book and I did find it interesting. But it is a very average book that I don’t see myself rereading. And I won’t be picking up book 2.