"No one does magical realism quite like McLemore, and this third novel, laced with slow-burning suspense, folklore, romance, and spun together with exquisite, luxuriant prose, proves it.,,, Sheer magic: fierce, bright, and blazing with possibility."— Booklist (starred)
Love grows such strange things.
Anna-Marie McLemore's debut novel The Weight of Feathers garnered fabulous reviews and was a finalist for the prestigious YALSA Morris Award, and her second novel, When the Moon was Ours, was longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Now, in Wild Beauty, McLemore introduces a spellbinding setting and two characters who are drawn together by fate—and pulled apart by reality.
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.
Nomeolvides women have the power to conjure flowers. They're also cursed: whenever they fall in love, the object of their affection vanishes. The women strive for normalcy, channeling their magic into the elaborate gardens at La Pradera estate and forsaking suitors before they can disappear, but then Estrella Nomeolvides and her four cousins all fall for La Pradera's vivacious owner, Bay Briar. The girls perform a ritual that's intended to protect her, but it instead summons Fel, a strangely dressed boy who can't recall his past. Assuming that Fel is the resurrection of a prior generation's lost lover, the Nomeolvideses take him in; when his memories surface, they must face dark truths about their history and home. Featuring gay, bisexual, and genderqueer characters from multiple cultures, this vibrant, eloquently written fairy tale from McLemore (When the Moon Was Ours) illustrates the nondiscriminatory nature of love while thoughtfully exploring its risks and rewards. The pace is languid and some of the supporting characters lack depth, but McLemore's mythology is rich, and the heart-rending conclusion thrills and gratifies. Ages 12 up.
The best book McLemore has written yet (and I’m including Blanca & Roja in that). As gorgeously written, affecting, thoughtful, and tender a novel as one could wish.