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.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
The Will and the Wilds
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Page Count: 268
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Cover Artist: Micaela Alcaino
My Rating: ★★★1/2
I received an ARC of this book from 47North via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
Content Warning: Gore, Death, Mental Health
Without a soul, she doesn’t have a will.
The Wild and the Wilds is a story about how a soul ultimately defines the line between the human and the monster. The town of Fendell is situated on the edge of the Wilds—a large, magical forest teeming with foul mystings. Mystings, monstrous creatures not unlike tricksters, goblins, and such, are not to be trusted. Enna and her father live in the Wilds. Having lost her mother before she was even born (view spoiler)[(her father had to cut her out of her mother’s body) (hide spoiler)] her mother was attacked and killed by a pack of ruthless mystings. Her father, having traveled to the monster realm to find a charm to keep her safe, lost his mind in turn.
Mankind cannot linger in the monster realm, just as mystings cannot abide here long. Our worlds are too different, and they reject those who don’t belong. My father stayed too many hours in the monster realm, and in exchange, it claimed the sharper bits of his mind. And so he retired here with the Telling Stone, learned to grow mushrooms, and the rest of our lives have been uneventful.
With her father’s intermittent lucidness, Enna must take care of them both. Recently, mysting appearances have been more frequent. Enna knows, because the charm her father gave her tells when a mysting is near. After a direct attack on their house and Enna being marked by a Gobler, Enna turns to desperation and summons a mysting to help her against the Gobler threat. A humanoid/equine creature known as a narval appears, and she strikes with him a deal—he will hunt down the Goblers threatening her, and she will give him two war medallions of her father’s in turn.
Soon after, Maekallus finds the Goblers, but is defeated, cursed, and trapped in the human world to die. Enna finds him, deteriorating quickly, as her world won’t allow him to live for long. To save him, she offers him a kiss. The tricky thing about a narval is that they steal one’s soul with a willing kiss. Enna kissed Maekallus willingly, and her soul fractured.
Healed for now, Maekallus—the soul eater—begins to lose his monstrous form, and Enna begins to hollow out from the missing pieces of her soul. The two, working together for their own purposes, begin to work together to solve their predicaments. Can the curse be broken to send Maekallus back to his home? Will Enna’s soul remain fractured forever? With the threat of the mystings all around, searching for the charm Enna possesses, their time is wearing thin.
But for every mysting who’s willing to cooperate, there are five others who will eat the flesh off your bones, if you but give them the chance
The Will and the Wilds is undoubtedly an intriguing story. I was sucked in the the plight between these two characters immediately. The uniqueness of this story is apparent, as it’s not just a story—it’s also a lesson. The concept of one’s soul is discussed frequently, and how it makes us who we are—human. Humans with a will, at that. If that soul is taken away, or broken, what would happen? While these musings got me thinking, I couldn’t help but notice the lack in world-building. Here is an incredible forest, the Wilds, a monster realm, in a seemingly Medieval era with little to reference it all by. These details aren’t exactly necessary since they aren’t the main point of the story, but are needed to make this story great, in my opinion.
Despite the world building, I appreciated the attention that the author delegated to these characters. Watching Enna slowly descend as her soul became more fractured, whilst Maekallus ascended towards a pure form of humanity kept these characters in a pendulum-like-state with Enna’s soul anchoring it all at the center. Mystings are creatures born from ill-does of humans. Throughout the entire story, Maekallus character is represented as something impure and inhuman, but moves to become something whole. All-in-all, I thought this was a very creative, unique, and thoughtful read.
Sexual content: Kissing.
Violence: Moderate with some gore.
My Rating: ★★★1/2
My Blog ¦ Bookstagram ¦ Twitter ¦ Pinterest ¦ Facebook
View all my reviews