Cover Image: The Will and the Wilds

The Will and the Wilds

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Member Reviews

This book was beautiful and mysterious and adorable and everything in between. It is mainly defined by its setting: the wildwood, as the title implies, where the story takes place. Inside, monsters of many different species and characteristics known as mystings abound. Enna, the main character, is a lonely girl living next to it while taking care of her father, sick after his trip to the mysting realm. Their relationship was tender, real and believable, as was Enna's convoluted romance with Maekallus, a mysting who ends up bound to the mortal realm and her reluctant partner to fend off fellow monsters that are after her. 

Overall, the plot was slow-paced but managed to keep me intrigued, while the characters were as few as deep and fleshed out, though maybe that made the stakes somewhat more lackluster and less threatening, as there were few people us readers got to connect with. On that note, I'd have liked for the village, its people and their relationship with Enna's family to be further explored, as well as her interesting and unexpected trip to the world beyond the wildwood. It was a delightful and original read, different from any other books I've read lately.
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I read "The Paper Magician" by this author a few years back. It was a simple, straight-forward, enjoyable little fantasy story that I quite enjoyed (though I haven't gotten around to reading any of the other books in the series). But when I came across this title by the same author, I was excited to see what looked like a new fairytale story. It's always refreshing to find something that isn't a retelling and the element involving the exchange of souls between the main characters was intriguing.

Enna has always yearned to study mystings that roam the wildwood near her home. But they are as dangerous as they are mysterious, so much of her time is spent instead on warding her home against them in an attempt to protect her and her father from the viscous death her mother suffered when Enna was just a baby. Soon enough, however, she finds herself tangled up with a mysting named Maekallus, a powerful being who steals the soul with a kiss. Now, entwined in a deal that is dooming them both, Enna and Maekallus must unravel the secrets of an enchanted stone Enna's father stole from the mystings long ago and that may be more powerful than Enna ever imagined.

Like "The Paper Magician," this was another sweet, little story. There wasn't anything particularly challenging or unique about the story itself. The world-building was pretty straight-forward. And the characters were all likable. Putting it all together it sounds like I'm criticizing the book for being bland, but I think that a story such as this has just a much a place on most readers' shelves as even the most complex and deep stories do. While I may not have found myself blown away by any aspect of it, the entire experience of the story was like sinking into a nice warm bath with some low level candles flickering. It was comfortable and safe, something that is even easier to appreciate in times such as this when frankly all I want to do is re-read comfort books all day long.

The most intriguing part of this story was around the idea of the soul and what it provides to those who possess it. Enna, a human girl, naturally goes about life never questioning the role her soul plays in her existence. But when she meets Maekallus and enters into a sort of transactional agreement with him that sees her slowly losing pieces of her soul, we begin to see what it costs her. And, conversely, what Maekallus lacked before gaining pieces bit by bit. The romance between the two is accordingly a slow burn love story.

I will say that there were points in the middle of the book where the plot began to feel a bit repetitive and meandering. There isn't a whole lot of fast-paced action in this story, and some of the conflicts, such as they are, feel relatively low stakes and don't add much tension to the proceedings. The main plot line, of course, has some action to it. But as that takes part mostly in the beginning and end of the book, there are some side quests in the middle that don't seem to add a lot. I also felt like the main confrontation at the end of the  book was fairly anticlimactic, all things considered.

But, like I said, the love story was sweet and our two main characters were interesting enough. If one is looking for a quick fairytale fantasy, this is a good go-to. But if you're looking for anything of the more "epic" or grand variety, this isn't going to do the trick. It's definitely a "right mood" kind of book, and I think I was in it when I read it. Objectively, I think it was probably a bit slower and less developed than it could be, though.

Rating 7: A nice little story, but not one that is pushing any sort of boundaries.

(Link will go live May 1)
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Unfortunately I didn't like this book as much as I wanted to.

In it we follow Enna, who is a 20-year-old woman living with her father, who has lost a lot of his memories after his wife died in the mystings' world.

Mystings are creatures similar to monsters, who lurk in forests near villages but mostly stay in their world. But Enna's father is actually one of the only humans who has ever gone to this world and this is when his memory got impaired. He came back with a bracelet that he gave his daughter and she's discovering in this book what it can do.

Also, this features a romance with one of the mystings that Enna meets and tries to get to help her.

Not a lot happens in this book and most of what does happen is predictable. I will say the writing was fine but that's the only good thing I can think of.

Thank you to NetGalley and 47North for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange of an honest review.
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I really enjoyed this book! I'm always impressed by how well Charlie Holmberg world-builds in only about 200 pages. I'd definitely love a spin-off set in the same world *hint hint*

I really enjoyed the little blurbs from the book of Mysting knowledge that Enna's Grandmother wrote and that Enna adds too. It's a great way to drop little bits of world-building without getting too bogged down it. I also found myself wanting to know more about the history of Enna's father. It sounds like he has had both an interesting and tragic life. 

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
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I really enjoyed this book. I love fairy tales and am just starting to get more into the fantasy genre so this was a great book that had aspects of both of those. The characters were fully developed and completely awesome, even the supporting characters. There are heros and villains, humans and monsters, magic spells, enchanted stones and all that jazz. What could be better?
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Not much happens in the first part of the book and when the action finally starts I'm already emotionally disengaged from the characters. Not that there is much to feel about them in the first place, Enna being brave, scholarly and dutiful (meh) and Maekallus being the trickster he was made to. Sorry to say, but only "ok" for me.
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Both the story and the mythology of this novel are interesting and very well-built, but I feelt that the romance was neither healthy nor natural. However, I liked the author's style. I hope to like her other books more than this one.

Full review in my blog (MAR 12):
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This review won't be helpful sadly as I DNF this book. The description of the book and the cover caught my attention but sadly the story didn't. It might have been because I wasn't in the mood for this type of story, so I will give it a chance in the future.
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The concept of this one was interesting. Unfortunately the characters all fell a bit flat for me along with the world and lore. We got hints of bigger places and history but not enough to keep me rooted in the story. If everything and everyone was expanded upon a bit more it would be a much more engaging read.
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In this gorgeous fantasy story we follow Enna who lives with her father near a wildwood that is home to dangerous mystings. 
When one of the vicious creatures breaks into their home to steal a powerful protection charm, she decides to hire another mysting called Maekallus to fight the others wreaking havoc on the house. 
But there's a high price for binding a mysting to the mortal realm and soon they both have to try and find a way to undo the spell before there's nothing left of them anymore.
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I struggled to finish this book. I did not like it in the end and I kept hoping to see some development, instead I was given a plain plot and characters. Nothing much to say, I will definitely read something else of this author because I actually liked her writing style, it was just the story overall that was not for me. 

Only thing I can save is the world building that was good overall, not really complex but not completely plain.

Ebook provided by NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.
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I hadn't read anything else by Holmberg, so I didn't know quite what to expect, but I was taken by surprise by the quiet plot. The world still feels lush and grand, but I loved that the bulk of the story was just between two characters and while the stakes felt high, it was still quieter. I loved the way the author subverted tropes and breathed new life into them. Enna was a protagonist that it felt easy to cheer for, and the romance was absolutely lovely.
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How far would you go to save your soul? 

This is the question Enna has to face when she makes a deal with a nether creature, intertwining her soul with his fate. 

Picking up on their pact, The Will and the Wilds ushers readers through a haunting consideration on monstrosity and the transformative power of love; for it can as easily compel us to save as to deceive. 

Eerie and delightful, the narrative is heavy with witching passion. The woods surrounding Enna's secluded home set the scenery for a spectral beauty, prodded in places by the mystings, creatures from a parallel realm where all is terrifying and dead. 

While it is less a story about waging wars on monsters and men, and more a contact between worlds, the layering of this monster world seems like an afterthought. I would have loved to read about the workings of this other realm and how these creatures and the humans came into contact. 

I don't  expect epic battles in every book I read, similarity bores me and there's more than one way to fight, yet when the plot sets the stage for a moment such as this and then retracts it, I can't help but feel as if I missed a possibility. 

If you come expecting a battle of the worlds, The Will and the Wilds is not the entertainment you seek. But if you are willing to give this personal journey a try, you will find yourself attached to a delectable story with a charming protagonist and a heart-aching romance.
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This book tried really hard to be all creepy and mystical and haunting and magical, and stuff. Like The Bear and the Nightingale or Uprooted or something. Unfortunately, it didn't quite make it.
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So basically you are telling me this book is about a girl and a monster? I am sold. I really really enjoyed this book which I did not expect to say. This book has all the things I love including heroes and villains, magic and spells yes please I am here for all of that. All the characters were so good and different which made me want to read more. Enna’s mum was killed when she was pregnant and her dad her to cut her out which I had never read about but it does happen in real life. I will say no more about this book as I went into blind and do not regret my decision as it was the best possible way to read it. Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book
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This was such a lovely read. For a supposed fantasy read it was rather short at not even 270 pages. But I think the author did quite a bit for such a little book. The Will and the Wilds follows more of traditional fairy tale atmosphere than a fantasy book. Which plays into the authors favour The Will and the Wilds is more character driven than action. I don't want to give too much away because it is such a short book but if you love retellings and atmospheric reads you will love The Will and the Wilds.

Overall a gem of a book that reminds you of old folk tales being told by the woodfire, highly recommend.
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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Will and the Wilds has a strong fairy like feel and it reminded me a lot of Beauty and the Beast. In fact, Enna, the main character who lives with her "mad" father as an outcast, falls in love with a monster after having made a bargain with him.

I really liked the idea of this book but the execution was a little disappointing. For most of the book the pacing was too slow while I felt that the ending was too rushed.

I found the world building extremely interesting and I believe it has a lot of potential. I would have loved to know more about the Deep and the other mystings and I believe that the story was a little bit too focused on Enna, Maekallus and their relationship (which I loved, by the way). In fact the very few secondary characters felt a little bit too flat. I have a lot of questions about Enna's dad, his backstory and Enna's grandmother. I really liked the little notes from her book about mystings at the beginning of each chapter and I would like to know more about how she knew all those things.

"What is a soul if not an extension of the heart?"

The thing I liked the most was seeing the characters' development. Both Enna and Maekallus change a lot throughout the story, Maekallus slowly gains a soul while Enna loses hers. The end was also wonderfully executed.

Overall it was a nice read and I would love to see more of this world of mystings and magic.
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"What is a soul if not an extension of the heart?"

I wanted to read fantasy because it had been ages since I picked one. So what's better than a book that is based on a strong, young woman and a guy who sounds like a mixture of dementor and Loki? I am so ecstatic to have picked this up because it turned out to simply heart-touching and BE-AU-TI-FU-LLY written!

I will be using the official description:
Enna knows to fear the mystings that roam the wildwood near her home. When one tries to kill her to obtain an enchanted stone, Enna takes a huge risk: fighting back with a mysting of her own.
Maekallus’s help isn’t free. His price? A kiss. One with the power to steal her soul. But their deal leaves Maekallus bound to the mortal realm, which begins eating him alive. Only Enna’s kiss, given willingly, can save him from immediate destruction. It’s temporary salvation for Maekallus and a lingering doom for Enna. Part of her soul now burns bright inside Maekallus, making him feel for the first time.
Enna shares Maekallus’s suffering, but her small sacrifice won’t last long. If she and Maekallus can’t break the spell binding him to the mortal realm, Maekallus will be consumed completely—and Enna’s soul with him.

One word: WOW! 
Now, who gave Charlie the right to wrench my soul and caress it at the same time? The story is rightly paced, bewitching, tear-jerking and is the kind that will just take time to sink in before you can properly put out your thoughts in words or verbally explain why you loved this book! I just wanted to grab Charlie by the collar and ask her to have mercy on me and the characters! Her writing is almost lyrical and magical just like the story she has woven with them! The main characters are portrayed so exquisitely and even though there is so much more I would love to know about this world, there is a sense of satisfaction with the aptly provided information because mostly, the focus is on Enna and Maekallus. It's not easy for one to pull a feat like this with the ease and perfection Charlie has managed to pull this off with. 

And the ending, one word, again: WHY? 
Why did she have to make me sob like a baby with joy almost filling the huge void in my chest, that all my senses can feel? It's such a soul-wrenching (no pun intended!) and a charming love story that anyone would love to read in the cosiest corner of the bed, with a nice cuppa in the autumn, after an exhausting day with all the kleenex one can hold on to! It's also a quick read so you don't have to stay awake all night and have yet another exhausting day the next day, but then, IT IS COMPLETELY WORTH IT!

I will be checking out more works by Charlie and pick up her previous ones!

Recommended: Anyone with a sweet tooth for romantic fantasy or just purely romance because of that ending, will enjoy this heart touching read!

Thank you NetGalley and 47North for this e-arc.
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· “What is a soul if not an extension of the heart?” ·

Let me just say it’s been a while since I last read a Fantasy YA novel and this one was simply ~A m a z i n g~. The beautiful narrative pulled me right in from the very first line and kept me hooked until the last dot. Having said that, I must also admit that the cover and the blurp were most captivating for me at the time of requesting a review copy. Could a kiss be so dangerous as to stealing your soul? You bet!

In addition to the author’s talented story-telling skills, the world creation and the character development were exceptional. Charlie’s words create the perfectly shady but yet attractive setting where our protagonists meet and interact and as a reader I found myself wondering through the wildwood with Enna or walking down the medieval-like village market feeling the long, hard stares of the villagers.

Also there’s Maekallus, a soulless mysting unable to feel—that is until until he kisses Enna, causing strange things start to come to life inside of him. As the story unfolds, I found myself swooning over Maekallus, a bad boy with a big heart, and enjoying the conversations and arguments between him and Enna.

However, what I loved the most about this book was the ending.

(If you’re not up for spoilers, you should seriously consider stop reading now.)

The thing is, the author remains most loyals to her characters. In this story, love overcomes every obstacle and there’s sacrifice on both parts, of course. But neither Maekallus nor Enna have to quit being who or what they are in order to be together. Without a doubt, that’s the most beautiful message this story has to offer.
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Loved it..whimsical fairy tailish story and the cover is.definitely perfect for the story itself. 

Thank you Netgalley for the advanced.readers copy.
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