Title: The Will and the Wilds
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Audience: Young Adult
Length: 267 pages
Release Date: January 21, 2020
Source: Goodreads giveaway
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.
“I pay no attention to the folk, for I’ve learned, mostly, not to care for the opinion of others, as they’ve never cared for mine.”
This was the first ebook I read in years after I won it from a Goodreads giveaway that I entered on a whim, so I went into the story without expectations. The Will and the Wilds is is a quasi-Beauty and the Beast retelling, but it is not the epic fantasy adventure I thought it might be. The story is told on a much smaller scale than most popular YA fantasies on the market. While this book does not cover a lot of ground (literally), it instead focuses on developing the characters and unique magic system.
Enna is a typical YA heroine. She does not fit in. She lives on the outskirts of town with her struggling father and longs to be a scholar of mystings (demons), which is unheard of for a young woman. I admired her determination, compassion, and constant quest for understanding.
After a mysting attacks her, Enna summons the mysting Maekallus for protection, but when their deal goes wrong, Enna must give a soul-transferring kiss to save both their lives. This story is mostly about their changing relationship as she sacrifices pieces of her soul and Maekallus gains them. Maekallus becomes more and more human with each kiss, while Enna withers away. Really interesting perspective about what it means to be human.
I wanted more from the climax of the story. While I enjoyed reading about Enna’s mysting research and the slow building romance, I expected a final epic battle, but the story delivered an underwhelming showdown. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this book, but I wanted a little more action.