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Wild Beauty

Review

Wild Beauty

WILD BEAUTY is a book filled with enchantment. In Anna-Marie McLemore’s third novel, an estate garden called La Pradera delights everyone who sets foot in it, but at a price. For generations — each generation borne five daughters --- the Nomeolvides women have been cursed; everyone who they fall in love with disappears into thin air. They cannot leave the garden without the garden inflicting death upon them. One day, a mysterious boy named Fel is found in the earth by Estrella, a Nomeolvides girl of the present generation, and she tries to piece together his past; and in the process, she discovers the secrets buried deep in the soil.

"I did not expect...the incredible family dynamic, the atmospheric writing, the adorable romance and the interesting setting. I was completely immersed in this story. "

This book has brought much-needed magic into my life. Going into this, I wanted to be transported into a land of unruly roses and prominent thorns. What I did not expect was the incredible family dynamic, the atmospheric writing, the adorable romance and the interesting setting. I was completely immersed in this story. Every time I put it down, I was excited the entire day at the thought of picking it up again! When I finally did I did not want to be interrupted in any way, shape or form. McLemore’s novel latched on to my heartstrings and refused to let go. The Nomeolvides women (and Fel) became part of my family, and it actually felt like a real family. The majority of the characters in WILD BEAUTY were Hispanic just like me and my family! Our customs and family dynamics were so similar; it warmed my heart to see this in a young adult novel. All the women in this novel were also queer! It was also lovely to read about that.

My favorite aspect of this novel was the gorgeous setting. I adore the way McLemore made the garden like a person, like a God; she gave the garden a beating heart and a mind of its own. She gave it lungs to breathe the air and a brain filled with vengeance. McLemore made La Pradera an enemy and a safe haven at the same time. It remembers all and refuses to forgive until the deed is done. It may be filled with the world’s most enchanting blossoms, but it contains more thorns than anything else. I have never read any setting like this in any fantasy novel, let alone one that is magical realism. Not only was the garden itself impressive, but I felt that I was in it myself. Even though I know La Pradera is dangerous, I still want to frolic in its fluorescent flowers.

If I could change anything in this novel, it would be to make the world less modern. I think it would have worked slightly (but very slightly) if it took place in the 1940s, like in MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs. I think it would have made the setting eerier, but that’s just my personal opinion.

WILD BEAUTY is a young adult novel that will enchant you. When reading this, take caution: you may find yourself trapped in this story.

Reviewed by Daniella R., Teen Board Member on November 30, 2017

Wild Beauty
by Anna-Marie McLemore