Love grows such strange things in Wild Beauty.
For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.
The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family. (via Goodreads)
I received an eARC of Wild Beauty from Netgalley, courtesy of Feiwel and Friends publishing, in exchange for an honest review.
I’m gonna come right out and say it. I loved this book from start to finish EVEN THOUGH I had to read it on my phone. This book absorbed me from the first minute, and made me want to learn all of La Pradera’s secrets.
This book is slow and lyrical, so if that isn’t your style, you probably won’t enjoy it. However, it is extremely my style, so I’m gonna talk about why I loved it.
One thing that was very different about this story is that the plot isn’t the main focus – the setting is. The setting is La Pradera, a former quarry that generations of Nomeolvides women have turned into an overflowing garden. La Pradera is as much a character as any of the Nomeolvides women or Fel, and I loved it.
“Even in its first faint traces, love could alter a landscape. It wrote unimagined stories and made the most beautiful, forbidding places.
Love grew such strange things.”
Another part of this novel that drew me in was its discussions of different types of loves. Each of the cousins loved each other, loved their aunts and grandmothers, and loved Bay. Each of those loves was entirely different, even in the way La Pradera saw it. I really enjoyed the strong family dynamic in this novel, with the cousins all being as close as if they were sisters.
One thing that I found weird was that it felt like McLemore was trying to make Bay either genderqueer or nonbinary, which was never fully realized in the novel. It was just hinted at and never explained.
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