EMILY WILDE’S MAP OF THE OTHERLANDS rating: 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.
The first book in the series was EMILY WILDE’S ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF FAERIES (Del Rey/Penguin Random House, January 10, 2023), and EMILY WILDE’S MAP OF THE OTHERLANDS (Del Rey/Penguin Random House, January 16, 2024) is the second book in the series. They are both extraordinary fantasy novels.
Emily Wilde reminds me of the cool, collected, no-nonsense Mary Russell in the Laurie R. King series. Professor Wilde is focused on her studies of dryadology (faerie research) at Oxford and lives mostly inside her own head, but sometimes she loses self-control. Emily’s descriptions of her hedonistic impulses are factual and detached, which lends a Spock-like humor to her character. Sometimes the faerie king/Oxford scholar Wendell Bambleby just gets the better of Em’s rational self. Who can blame her? He’s hot. Also witty!
Disclaimer: Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for sending this book to me for review consideration. All opinions are my own.
In OTHERLANDS, Emily is off to investigate the fae again, this time hoping to create a map of all of the kingdoms and lands of the Folk, and also protect Wendell from the machinations of his evil stepmother who has stolen his rightful throne. Her scholarly curiosity lands Emily in frequent danger, so it’s good that Wendell’s enchantments are protecting her as well.
If the first two books in this series are any indication, Emily Wilde and I will be dear friends for as long as the series lasts. I adore Emily, her dog Shadow, and this whole vibe that Fawcett creates. Whether friend or foe (or either, as the mood strikes) I love the Folk. I can easily imagine a professor’s digs in Oxford and a life in Faerie vying to be the home of my own heart. I’ve been yearning for fiction to give me Strange & Norrell1See reading in context below. vibes for (checks LibraryThing reading record) 12 years, and this series really scratches that itch. There are even dryadology footnotes! The satisfying pace and style give the impression that Heather Fawcett has been writing adult fantasy fiction for ages, when in fact the Emily Wilde series is Fawcett’s first foray into adult fiction.
Reading in context:
More fictional fae (fairies, faeries, Folk) that main characters should be wary of:
JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL by Susanna Clarke, mentioned above, boasts really terrifying faeries who can kidnap and ensorcell you in a never-ending, exhausting ballroom, with slim chance of escape. The compulsion to dance forever if enchanted by the Folk is a reality in Emily Wilde’s world as well. Also a TV miniseries!
THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden, which kicks off the Winternight Trilogy, has Russian fae that you had better honor if you know what’s good for you, because they can protect you from an icy snow demon. . . or not. I imagine the snow demon Frost looks a lot like the Night King in “Game of Thrones.”2I’ve never read the books, only watched the TV show. Best to leave something really tasty on the stairs for those benevolent fae.
The Folk of the Emily Wilde books are very like the elves of Terry Pratchett in LORDS & LADIES, in that they can take on glamour, are dangerous, and can be animal-like, not necessarily associated with plant life or having wings. My favorite Discworld characters, the witches, tangle with the elves in LORDS & LADIES. As always with Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick, it’s no contest. The witches win.
What I’m reading right now:
THE MADSTONE by Elizabeth Crook (Little, Brown and Company/Hachette, November 7, 2023).
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