Book Reviews

{ARC Review + Interview + Giveaway!} “The Will and the Wilds” by Charlie N. Holmberg | Whimsical and thought-provoking

Hey, all! I’m so excited for today’s post because, as you can probably tell from the title, I’m not only bringing you my first giveaway in a long time but also an interview with an author whose books I have been absolutely LOVING lately! The author of The Paper Magician series, more recently The Numina trilogy, and several other novels – Charlie N. Holmberg!

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Title: The Will and the Wilds
Charlie N. Holmberg
Publisher: 47North
Available: Jan. 21, 2020
Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Book Depository*

*affiliate link

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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.

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I received an ARC from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Initial Thoughts:

My interest in this book was definitely sparked by the beautiful cover (Charlie has some of the most gorgeous illustrated covers). It just gave me this whimsical, fairy tale vibe that piqued my curiosity enough to check out the synopsis. I had planned to read it once the book was released, but by some miracle (or because the universe noticed how much I was enjoying Charlie’s Numina trilogy and wanted to treat me), I was offered the chance to receive an ARC. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and more or less said, “OMG YES PLEASE.”

Things I Liked:

First of all, I need to say how I kept getting Inuyasha vibes as I read this book. Okay, Beauty and the Beast too, but I totally kept picturing Inuyasha when Enna first met Maekallus. They both have amber eyes, too! How could I not make that association?

inuyasha humph

Not surprisingly, I really enjoyed the world-building in this book. This is my fourth Charlie N. Holmberg book and I can honestly say that she has such a talent for creating interesting and unique worlds that you can’t help but be engrossed in. I found the world and lore of the mystings so fascinating. Every chapter starts with an entry from Enne’s mysting journal and I thought that was such a nice touch! It helped make reading the book feel more personal and real.

As the synopsis shows, one of the main topics this book addresses is the question of “what is a soul?” I wasn’t expecting this book to be so thought-provoking; it definitely had me thinking throughout the book as well as long after I finished it. Other topics that this book significantly touched upon were free-will, forgiveness, morality, and love.


There wasn’t really anything I disliked except that I wanted more! I would have liked to know more about the realm of the mystings and delve deeper into the lore behind their origins. Are all mystings created the same way? Did they have another form before they were mystings or were they born as one? Who created them and why? Basically, I totally wouldn’t mind another book. 😉

Final Thoughts:

If you’re a fan of Inuyasha, or are just looking for a different type of fantasy that has great world-building, demon-like creatures with an assortment of personalities, and really makes you think, then this book is for you! A whimsical, thought-provoking, and heartwarming tale that will pull at your heartstrings and take you on a memorable adventure. Definitely recommend!

hug book belle

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

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Interview with Charlie:

1.) Hi Charlie! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to do this interview with me. To kick things off, would you mind telling us a bit about your latest novel, “The Will and the Wilds”?

Sure! The Will and the Wilds is a standalone fantasy romance that follows Enna, a mushroom farmer, and her fascination with the wildwood near her home. The wildwood is known to be a spawning ground for mystings, or demons of the monster world. When a mysting threatens her and her home, she decides to hire a mysting of her own to fight him—a horned creature named Maekallus. But in the ensuing fight, Maekallus gets bound to the mortal realm, which begins eating him alive. Only a kiss can help him survive, but everyone knows Maekallus’s kind use kisses to steal souls . . .

2.) This following question may be one you’re always asked during interviews, but as a writer it’s one that I always look forward to hearing the answer to. What was your inspiration for “The Will and the Wilds”? I’m told that it all started with a dream…?

Yep. This is the only book I’ve ever written that was based on a dream. I had a dream about Maekallus, who has a massive horn protruding from his forehead. Except then he lost it, and he could only get it back by taking the virginity of a maiden. XD I tweaked the idea for the book, but something about the dream really stuck with me, and The Will and the Wilds was born.

3.) Did you have to do any research for this book? What was that process like? Maybe watch some anime? 😉 I did keep getting Inuyasha vibes throughout the story. Haha

Every book requires research. Even things like how far a human or a horse can travel in a day. Types of trees. How mushrooms grow. Things like that. A nice thing about otherworld fantasy is that I can make stuff up. A lot of the flora in the book is invented.

I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of Inuyasha, and that was a very long time ago XD

4.) One of my favorite things about your books is your ability to create such intriguing and unique magic systems – and you make it look so easy! Can you tell us a little bit about your process for creating the magic system in “The Will and the Wilds”?

Thanks! You could say there’s a two-part magic system in the book. The first being the mere existence of the demons, and the second being Enna’s telling charm, which I can’t talk about without spoilers. All in all, The Will and the Wilds has a much simpler magic system than, say, The Paper Magician or The Fifth Doll. I brainstormed a bunch of different types of mystings before starting the book, and the rest I just invented on the spot as I needed them. I honestly don’t remember how I came up with the telling charm! I wrote this book before the Numina trilogy, so it’s older and my brain has moved on.

5.) I found the world of the mystings so fascinating and definitely would not have minded learning more about it, its frightening inhabitants, and their origins. Where in your writing process did you decide “The Will in the Wilds” was going to be a stand-alone novel? Did you ever consider creating another series with this book, like The Numina trilogy?

I generally am a standalone writer; I have to really try to write a series (I’m getting slightly better at it). Some stories just have a feel to them, and based on that, you know how long of a story it needs to be. I don’t think The Will and the Wilds would make a good series. The main plotline is resolved—I feel like expanding it would make a second book feel tacked on. IF I were to write another book in this world, it would probably follow a new protagonist, and have Enna/Maekallus as side or cameo characters.

6.) You composed an actual song for this book – that is so amazing! Do you compose songs for all of your books? How did you decide what type of music fit “The Will and the Wilds”?

I did! (And it’s misprinted in the book—go to my website or get the ebook version for the right sheet music!) And thank you! I do not compose for all my books. Composition was something I was really into in high school and college; I almost majored in it. But for some reason, after I got married, it just moved to the wayside. I only recently got back into it (and mostly writing pop songs now, ha!).

Sometimes I make playlists for my books. Songs that really fit this one were “Cristofori’s Dream” and “Prologue” from The Beauty and the Beast (Disney). Those piano pieces inspired me to write one of my own. It’s simple, but I think it captures the tone of the story.

7.) What do you hope readers will take away from “The Will and the Wilds”?

I certainly hope they enjoy the story! I want them to be able to get lost in a world they haven’t been in before. The enchanted forest trope is one that has definitely been done before; I hope my twist on it keeps readers interested. This is above all a love-story. If I can pull on a reader’s heart strings, I consider that a success.

8.) I understand that “The Will and the Wilds” is your twelfth published novel. How do you think your writing has evolved throughout your writing journey? Was there ever a point where you felt stuck or uninspired? What do you do to keep inspired and motivated?

It is! And it has twelve kissing scenes in it. XD I think I become a stronger and more fluid writer with every book I write. Practice makes perfect, no?

There have definitely been times where I feel uninspired. Last year, actually, was the first time I just had a complete block with my writing. It was absolutely terrifying. I had a taste of what depression feels like, and it was awful. I overcame it, but it still looms over my shoulder. I’m afraid of it happening again, but I keep moving forward, now taking care with my mentality and my processes in a more caring way.

9.) How does a typical writing day go for you?

I usually head downstairs at 9, when the kids are in school, and work until lunch. I have an office, though it’s cluttered to the brim right now while we [slowly] build out our basement. The rest of the day I mom, but I’m often brainstorming and writing down ideas as I go.

10.) If you could co-author a book with another person, who would that person be and what type of book do you think you two would write?

I actually am co-authoring with another person! With Caitlyn McFarland, my best friend and author of the Dragonsworn series. Let me tell you, co-authoring is not easy. Had I realized how different me and Caitlyn’s processes were in 2015 when we started this venture, I would have jumped ship! But I’m glad we stuck with it (there was a big break in the middle). Our book is pretty great and currently with our agent! It’s a YA-crossover high fantasy.

11.) Is there a genre that you hope to write for one day that you haven’t yet?

I have most of a YA contemporary done, and I think it would be fun to write straight-up romance someday.

12.) What is the best writing advice that you’ve ever received?

Allow yourself to suck. That, and keep a daily wordcount.

13.) What has been your most memorable encounter with a reader so far?

I ran into one at WorldCon shortly after my debut series came out. It was the first time someone recognized me and lost their mind that I was there. She was so fantastically nice and thought I was the bees knees!

14.) Your next book is titled “Spellbreaker” and just like your previous titles, the cover is absolutely beautiful! Can you tell us a little bit about it and what we can look forward to? I know I’m already looking forward to reading it!

Thank you! Micaela Alcaino did a fantastic job.

Spellbreaker takes  place in late Victorian England, where there are two kinds of wizards: those who create spells and those who break them. The story follows Elsie, an unregistered spellbreaker working for a secret organization to help the common man, and Bacchus, a spellmaker of physical spells who’s trying to gain his mastership. BUT THEN SECRET THINGS HAPPEN. #bestpitch

Lightning Round:

Pantser or a plotter?


Go-to writing fuel?

Water? XD

Dog-ear or use a bookmark?


One quirk most people don’t know about you?

I have a speech impediment, but I’m pretty good at hiding it.

Something you consider yourself a “fangirl” (huge fan) of?

Miraculous Ladybug!

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About the Author:


Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie N. Holmberg was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters who also have boy names. She is a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and finally adopted a dog. Her fantasy Paper Magician series, which includes The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician, and The Master Magician, has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company. Her stand-alone novel, Followed by Frost, was nominated for a 2016 RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance, and her novel The Fifth Doll won the 2018 Whitney for Speculative Fiction. She is a board member for Deep Magic Ezine and currently lives with her family in Utah.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

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Surprise! It’s been a while since I’ve done a giveaway and I felt inspired to host one after the publisher was so kind as to not only give me an ARC, but also a finished copy before the book was released. As a way to help support Charlie, and to pay-it-forward, I’m hosting a giveaway for a copy of this lovely book! Check out the rules and enter through the Rafflecopter link below!

One (1) person will win one (1) copy of The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg!

International, as long as Book Depository/Wordery ships to you. Giveaway policies apply.

Deadline for entries: 04/15/20

Enter giveaway on Rafflecopter

Check out my bookstagram post on Instagram for more entries!

View this post on Instagram

❝ 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐬𝐨𝐮𝐥 𝐢𝐟 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭?.❞ — ⠀⠀⠀ It’s been over two months since this beauty of a book released, and I’m still not over how lovely it was. 🥰 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I ended up really loving this story! The romance pulled at my heartstrings and the story left me with a smile on my face feeling all warm and fuzzy. THE WILL IN THE WILDS is a whimsical, thought-provoking, romantic fantasy filled with gripping adventure, interesting creatures, and intriguing magic. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Thank you to @amazonpublishing and Wunderkind PR for the ARC and for the completely unexpected finished paperback copy! To #payitforward and to bring some cheer to our current dystopian reality (that could have been avoided/minimized if we had better government leaders 🙃) I’m hosting a giveaway!! ⠀⠀⠀ 🚫CLOSED! Winner contacted and prize claimed.🚫 ⠀⠀⠀ 🌱One (1) person will win a copy of THE WILL IN THE WILDS! ⠀⠀⠀ – International, as long as Book Depository/Wordery ships to you. – Blog giveaway policies apply. – Giveaway runs from 3/28 – 4/15 ⠀⠀⠀ 🍃HOW TO ENTER:🍃 Follow @minathefangirl and @cnholmberg – Like this photo – Leave a comment and tag three (3) friends who might also be interested – Show my recent posts some 💕😊 BONUS entry: Share on your stories and tag me! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ For more chances to win, check out the rafflecopter link on my corresponding blog post where I interview Charlie! All links in my bio!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ — #bookaholic #bookstagram #booksbooksbooks #reading #bookdragon #readersofinstagram #charlienholmberg #thewillandthewilds #giveaway

A post shared by Mina (@minathefangirl) on

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So I’m curious: what are your thoughts on the concept of a “soul”? What is a soul to you? We’re getting philosophical here guys. Haha Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Again, huge thanks to Charlie for taking the time to do this interview with me! I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did. Before you go, please don’t forget to enter my giveaway above! There are multiple ways to earn more entries on Rafflecopter as well as on my Instagram. Just look for the photo of The Will and the Wilds!

Thanks for stopping by! Until next time…

Mina Sig 3

Twitter: @minathefangirl
Instagram: @minathefangirl

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