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Review of The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Will and the Wilds

A spellbinding story of truce and trickery from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician series.

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 a 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. 

My Review:

This is a delightful, dark fairytale that explores the question: “What happens if you meet the monster lurking in the dark corners of your nightmares, and the interaction goes on a lot longer than you’d expected?”

Enna meets Maekallus, a Mysting, which are beings from the monster realm beneath our world. They both find themselves in a bit of a a bind, and when Maekallus tries to save himself by eating Enna’s soul, but she’s not entirely willing, it leaves them in a bit of an awkward ‘deal-unsealed’ situation. The story follows their attempts to get themselves out of the mess they’ve created.

This is a highly character-driven story. Not a lot happens aside from the ongoing interaction between Enna and Maekallus, but it works well here. The writing is solid and the character development is fantastic. I enjoyed Enna’s perspective but would’ve loved to hear a bit more of Maekallus’ POV. I’m a full-on ‘Sympathy For the Devil’ sucker for seeing through the monster’s eyes.

Enna’s relationships with her father and with Tennith did nothing for me, and the plot wandered a bit, getting off-topic occasionally. I would’ve loved to exchange all of that for a bit more Enna/Maekallus face-time.

The entire time I was reading I was positive I knew the ending, and I was surprised when it didn’t pan out the way I’d expected. And that’s a good thing. While I’m not a fan of getting sucker-punched in my day to day life, I love when it happens in a book.