Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
Keeper of Enchanted Rooms by Charlie N. Holmberg – Book Details
TITLE – Keeper of Enchanted Rooms
SERIES – Whimbrel House, book #1
AUTHOR – Charlie N. Holmberg
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2022
PAGE COUNT – 327
MY RATING – 5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 4.24 of 5
What It Is About
It could simply be under a spell, or built on a site where an abnormal amount of magic was expelled. It could have specifically been built to be enchanted […] Perhaps the materials used were magicked, or a wizard possesses it, or it is very old and gained sentience on its own […] Sometimes homes are just unhappy with their floorplans and choose to enchant themselves…
Hulda Larkin works for the Boston Institute for the Keeping of Enchanted Rooms, an organization whose main job is to tame and preserve magical houses so that they are safe for their owners. But even with all her experience, augury, staff trained in magic and all kinds of magical tools, certain houses still provide quite a challenge.
Her latest assignment, Whimbrel House, is a remote estate set on a small island. And the house refuses to let its newest owner, writer Merritt Fernsby, ever leave. Hulda has to find the house’s source of magic, which means she needs to move in as well.
As the house starts to show its true face, Hulda and Merritt grow closer and, together with the small staff, life at Whimbrel House slowly becomes homey and even pleasant. But something dark from the past is lurking around seeking for vengeance. And it might be more dangerous than anything the residents of Whimbrel House are prepared to deal with.
Themes and vibes:
- historical low fantasy
- haunted house trope but done warm and fun instead of spooky
- wholesome, whimsical, perfect-to-curl-up-with tales
- a dash of romance
- mischievous but playful and fun magical house
- 3 POVs
Keeper of Enchanted Rooms by Charlie N. Holmberg – My Review
One thing at a time, she reminded herself. Only worry about yourself. It was advice she had to inculcate often, as she frequently wished she could take control of others’ lives for a little while, if only to make the world a more organized place.
Out of all autumnal reads I’ve read this year, Keeper of Enchanted Rooms ended up being near the very top of the list of my favorites. It was perfectly cozy and comforting, delightful and entertaining. It gave me all the warm, fuzzy feelings I’ve been craving for.
Keeper of Enchanted Rooms by Charlie N. Holmberg was such a magical, whimsical story. Technically, it revolved around something like the haunted house trope, but it was light and almost cartoonish rather than creepy.
In this world, magic exists and everyone knows about it, even people who don’t have any magic themselves.
Something like the shattering of glass, but in reverse, echoed from upstairs, making him wonder whether Beth had gotten downstairs before the house’s realignment. Just how slowly had the house shifted in the night, so as not to wake anyone? Sneaky.
Merritt is an author who unexpectedly inherits a house even though he has been estranged from his family for years. But the house’s magical abilities are above anything he could deal with.
Luckily, there is a Keeping of Enchanted Rooms agency in Boston that deals with just such cases. Their representative, Hulda Larkin, arrives at the scene just as Merritt is about to lose every hope he will ever be allowed to leave.
Hulda has significant experience in understanding and taming magical houses. But the darkness from her past threatens to rise again just as she makes progress with Whimbrel House and she and Merritt are growing closer.
Hers was a story he didn’t want to end. But how many pages would she let him turn? What was her ending—their ending—going to be like?
The characters were quirky and wholesome. The two protagonists were over thirty (I think, or maybe late 20s) and not your typical beautiful, special without knowing it (or with knowing it) MCs.
They were very much flesh and blood humans. Both had their weaknesses and insecurities, but they were also kind and sweet and endearing. I loved them.
I will say though that both Hulda and Merritt often felt immature and caricature-ish. It made the book read almost like a middle grade at moments. I didn’t mind it because it went well with the overall comforting feel of the story. But they did feel a bit underdeveloped compared to the more ‘serious’ adult fantasies I usually read.
The rest of the crew were done well for the first book, though we don’t learn much about them. Still, they fit well into the story and added a nice found family touch to this book. I hope to get to know them all better in the second installment.
Even the villain got his origin story that explained quite a bit. I liked that the things he did were so bad, he was definitely a villain you can’t root for. But I also liked that we got to see how he got there and you can empathize with him even while hoping to see him go down.
The coddled and content seldom told good stories.
And then, the fact that even the Whimbrel House was kind of a character just blown my mind. It was such a wholesome part of the story and I felt like I’ve got to know it so well, the truth behind its magic barely felt like a surprise.
The house had a mind of its own and a wicked sense of humor. At times immaturely cruel, but the more you get to know it, the more playful and endearing it becomes. Almost like a pet 🙂
The majority of the story is set in mid 1800s Rhode Island. The historical aspect added another layer of warmth and coziness. The atmosphere was just perfect to curl up with during the cold, gray autumn days.
Keeper of Enchanted Rooms also had its darker side and some things were pretty twisted if you think about it. But there was nothing too scary, and because of the general tone of the book even the gruesome parts didn’t feel as disturbing as they might in some other book.
Being able to talk aloud to someone who always agreed with you could do wonders for the soul.
If you like magical realism stories that feel warm and comforting, Keeper of Enchanted Rooms by Charlie N. Holmberg is a book to go with. It sure made my November days wonderfully cozy.
I will be adding this book to my best fall books recommendation list, and it also went straight to my 2022 favorite reads. So you can imagine my delight when, just a couple of days after finishing Keeper of Enchanted Rooms, I got approved for the arc of the second instalment in the Whimbrel House series, Heir of Uncertain Magic!
I will be reading it as soon as possible. Heir of Uncertain Magic should be published in April 2023. So if this story sounds like something you might enjoy, make sure to grab Keeper of Enchanted Rooms and finish it before then so we can fangirl over this series together. 🤩😍🥰