• The Good: Forbidden monster boyfriend in a fairy tale of trickery and truces
  • The Bad: Fantasy elements are limited
  • The Literary: Stay until the end to find accompanying sheet music of “Enna’s Wildwood”

Enna Ryder lives with her father in a cabin at the edge of the wildwood, where mystings roam. When Enna is attacked by goblers and a mysting in succession, she summons another mysting to save her. The mysting called Maekallus requires a kiss in return, one with the power to steal her soul. But only a piece of Enna’s soul is stolen, leaving Maekallus trapped in the mortal realm, which will eventually destroy him and Enna’s soul with him.

More fairy tale than fantasy, Enna’s world feels a lot like Beauty and the Beast. Enna and her father are social outcasts from her little community, mostly because Enna’s father is succumbing to dementia and Enna’s fascination with the wildwood stirs rumors of witchcraft. But Enna and her father know more about mystings than most. Her father fought them and lived, and after cutting out his daughter from his wife’s corpse, he steals a rare jewel that Enna wears around her wrist and warns her when mystings are near. And Enna’s grandmother kept a journal of drawings and explanations of all the magical creatures of the wildwood, which Enna studies and adds to where she can.

Just beyond the wildwood is the entrance to The Deep, the land of the part fae, part satyr mystings. An entirely new world of magical creatures. Enticed by this image, together with the grandmother’s encyclopedia at Enna’s fingertips, I expected so much more of the fantasy world with all its intricate details.

Thankfully, Maekallus is a fine distraction. He’s broody and obviously handsome, with a unicorn horn, a tail, and cloven feet to remind Enna and the reader of his danger. Normally Maekallus, being naturally souless, is amused by human emotion. But with part of Enna’s soul inside him, he begins to have feelings as he physically transforms into something resembling a human. Maekallus is as surprised as Enna when their initial kiss doesn’t kill her, so he’s initially wary of her, especially when she brings him food and tries to keep him company, but with a piece of her soul, he begins to see her as the exceptional young woman she is.

Come for the romance, stay for the dark and whimsical fairy tale.