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The Will and the Wilds, Review

Enna’s mother was attacked by mysting beats, creatures from the monster realm. Raised only by her father, a former soldier, Enna has grown up in possession of the Telling Stone. With her Stone she is able to sense when mystings are near and what kind they are. This knowledge and her father’s mysting-killing sword have kept them save for years. Until a gobler with a fixation on her Stone attacks and frightens Enna. Desperate to protect her father and herself, Enna turns to the mystings for help despite knowing the warnings of a mysting bargain.

She summons up a narval, a humanoid mysting that strikes a dangerous bargain with her. But what will happen to a mysting that spends too long in the mortal realm with mortal feelings and thoughts?

What is The Will and the Wilds about?

Set in a fantasy world, this book is about the fate of young Enna as she deals with the overlap in her life between the monster realm and the mortal realm. Marked by tragedy before her birth even, Enna is a serious and practical young lady. Her father’s wits aren’t wholly present, so she cares for both herself and her ailing father–the only family she has left in the world. Part of her care is the use of the Telling Stone, a relic from the monster realm that her father quested for when she was a baby in order to protect her from her mother’s fate. The Stone tells when a mysting is nearby and what kind of mysting it is, allowing Enna to protect her home against the more dangerous monsters.

Enna is also highly curious about the mystings and the monster realm, which leads her to summoning Maekallus when her home is threatened by a persistent gobler. Maekallus offers her protection in exchange for a simple bargain, but soon loses control of the situation entirely. The two face a larger threat than a gobler and both must compromise part of themselves in order to protect each other.

Genre: Fantasy

This book is kind of a whimsical fae-centric fantasy novel. It’s set in a fantasy world were mystings (fae-like creatures) are known but mysterious and dangerous. Magic is a given, and sorcery is largely no longer practiced but once pervasive. The overlap between the monster realm and the mortal realm is far more prominent due to the characters than the world, though, which gives an almost slice of life element to the depictions of the world itself.

Tropes: Curiosity Kills the Cat

This book was pleasant in general because it didn’t follow the path I thought it would. In all honesty, it read like a traditional romance book with the hallmarks of one of those but the tone of a typical fantasy novel. The biggest noticeable feature was that Enna is too curious for her own good, a very Jane from Tarzan kind of character.

Plot: Falling in love with a “demon”

Yeah so I was surprised that so much of the plot was the romance. I don’t know why, but I had the impression going into this book that it’d be more fantasy based but the driving force of the story is romantic build up between Enna and a mysting with a lot of similarities to the kind of demonic creatures seen in cheesy romance and fanfics. I really enjoyed this surprisingly!

The Good

I really enjoyed the writing style of this book. It lends itself more to a fantasy adventure novel than the romance novel it turned out to be. Additionally, though I’m not a huge fan of first person POV, I did enjoy reading from Enna’s perspective. She’s a smart, capable, decision making young woman who doesn’t sit there and agonize over her choices. I really loved that once she made a decision she moved on, and if she did need to have an internal moral discussion it was usually over in only a few sentences. I also liked the deflation of the climax. I won’t go too in depth because of spoilers, but the way it happened and the subsequent squashing of plans really tickled me.

The Okay

I do wish there had been more follow up to Enna’s scholarly ambitions. A huge part of her character is that she desperately wants to go to an academy in another city and learn from scholars. She even gets to visit a scholarly research library at one point and loves it, not to mention impresses a couple of scholars there. Though the structure of this book mimics a romance novel, I think in a true romance novel there would have been some sort of conclusion to this plot thread instead of just leaving things as they were.

The Bad

I don’t have much for this section in all honesty, I largely enjoyed this book. I think my major complaint would be that certain plotlines seemed unfinished or rushed, as though the author only realized towards the end that they were writing what was essentially a romance novel with fantasy elements, not a fantasy novel with romance elements. I think this disjointed nature of the various plotlines is what had me so confused at first as to what genre this book really was.

Final Thoughts

I’m really glad that this is a stand alone novel, because I think it stands really nicely and is good for what it is. As a romance novel with fantasy elements, it functions nicely! The characters are interesting and complex, without falling into some of the annoying tropes of a romance novel. The fantasy world is interesting and explored just enough for the plot of the book. Descriptions were also lovely, and the writing style in general was just elevated to another level and very enjoyable. This was a pretty well rounded and entertaining read, and I definitely am interested in reading more from this author due to the beautiful descriptions and masterful use of words to create the story told.

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By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

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