Fairy Fantasy | Two Novels Featuring Characters from the Fae Realm

Beautifully atmospheric worlds powered by magic offer readers immersive stories.

El-Arifi, Saara. Faebound. Del Rey: Ballantine. Jan. 2024. 400p. ISBN 9780593723005. $28.99. FANTASY

Endless war killed off humans and fae, and it’s still consuming the elves. Yeeran rises in the elven army’s ranks, but on the same day she’s promoted, she faces exile for failure. Hunting in the wilds outside of the elven capital, she’s ambushed—not by an opposing army, but by fae—for killing a fae prince. Brought to the fae court in an underground society, Yeeran is put on trial but saved when a fae beast bonds itself to her, giving her magic and the possibility to end both the war and the imprisonment of the fae. This ambitious series opener plays with genre, tone, gender, and expectations while delivering an intriguing series opener. The magic system is inventive and layered, and romance is slow to build and well paid off. Some story beats are predictable, especially given the heavy use of prophecy in the narrative, but others are twisty enough to surprise. VERDICT An intriguing start to a new series from El-Arifi (The Battle Drum).—Katherine Sleyko

Fawcett, Heather. Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands. Del Rey: Ballantine. (Emily Wilde, Bk. 2). Jan. 2024. 352p. ISBN 9780593500194. $28. FANTASY

In Fawcett’s second novel in the “Emily Wilde” series, after Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, it’s 1910, and Emily, a Cambridge professor recently granted tenure, has published her encyclopedia of faeries and now endeavors to create a map of the faerie worlds. When Wendell Bambleby, a colleague and exiled royal faerie, is attacked by assassins sent by his stepmother, Emily is forced to begin her map of the Otherlands sooner than she planned, as she and Wendell need to find a door to his realm to get him home to stop the assassination attempts. Emily believes that she can find that door in the Austrian Alps. She attempts to navigate socializing with the villagers to gain insight into the local folk to locate the door’s whereabouts and also to find a long-lost faerie researcher who mysteriously disappeared over 50 years ago. VERDICT In this historical fantasy of manners, Fawcett brings readers back to a beautifully atmospheric world in which faeries exist in the regular human realm. Recommend to fans of Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons and R.F. Kuang’s Babel.—Leigh Verburg

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing