Publisher : Feiwel & Friends
Genre : Young Adult | Magical Realism
Page Count: 320
Synopsis : Love grows such strange things.
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. (From Goodreads)
Oh boy. Let’s see if I can put into words all my feelings towards his book. By now, everyone and their mother knows that Anna-Marie McLemore is my favourite author and that When the Moon Was Ours is my go-to when I’m asked what my favourite book is, so it’s no surprise that this was my most anticipated book of the year and that I had ridiculously high expectations for it. And it’s safe to say Wild Beauty blew my expectations out of the water. It was better than I expected and I think it would be on the same level as the author’s previous book if that one didn’t hold such a special spot in my heart.
So, the writing. I’ll say it over and over again until the whole world gets it, but Anna-Marie McLemore’s prose is the most beautiful the world has to offer. It’s flowery (something to keep in mind) but it’s more than that. Magical is what it is. It just sneaks its way into your heart and settles in it with no intention to ever leave, which is great in my opinion. The writing adds so much to the vibe of the story and is a game changer, it’s mezmerizing and enchanting, and almost all of it is quotable (I’m not even kidding, you should see how many tabs I have in my copy).
There’s also this thing to the writing where I could gauge the characters’ moods from their respective perspectives. Wild Beauty is written in dual POV from both Estrella’s and Fel’s. Estrella’s side of the story has a kind of burden feeling to it, I could sense how much the curse weighted on her from her narration, which soon became almost an urgent despair. On Fel’s side, I could feel just how lost and sad he felt, And that is, as I’ve said before, a crucial thing for me in books. I need to feel how characters feel without it being spelled out. And this is the best kind of that.
This is a character driven story. Not to stay that there is no plot, because there is, and a fascinating one at that but it’s more about the characters’ journeys and developement while they make their way through it. The plot is pretty complex, it doesn’t have one set timeline or one set succession of actions that make it what it is, everything is entertwined and it’s also revealed at the end to have a deeper meaning than it seems at first (as any respectable Magical Realism book should) so explaining it would not only take a whole essay but it would also be spoilery. All you need to know is that it does at perfect job at giving away enough while keeping the mystery alive until the very end.
I also loved how nothing was left to chance, every single thing used to weave the story had a place and a meaning. Every belief. Every superstition. Even the women and girls’ names played into their magic. Even the reason for the curse, it’s so simple yet makes all the sense, it’s woven with injustice and calling it out while still making for a gorgeous book.
Besides Fel (and the despicable Reid who isn’t to be acknowledged) the cast of characters is almost all women, most (or all?) of which were bisexual and they gave me life. Every. One. of. Them. You know how important a cast of strong magical women is? And the best of it is that they also have this vulnerable side of them because of La Pradera’s hold that makes their powers both a curse and a blessing. Which gives a dark twist to the whole book, because being able to grow flowers with a touch is all pretty until other factors come into play.
I adored Estrella. Like, really. She’s a brilliant character, she felt a lot and her emotions were what drove her a lot of the time. She’s complex, so so strong yet still has a fragile almost breakable side to her, weighted by the curse, by a need for freedom, yearning for love while she can’t really have it because of said curse. I loved seeing her go from forming this one unit with her cousins to becoming her own person by the end and standing up for herself and her family.
Fel on the other hand was so interesting to read about. At the start of the book, he knows nothing about himself, not even his name. Fel is NOT his real name. So seeing him come to term with that and find a new family in the Nomeolvides women was heartwarming. Not only that, but also witnessing him remembering things and putting pieces of his life puzzle was great, I rooted for him so much. I might have cried by the end. Who am I kidding? I cried multiple times. Also, I think it’s worth noting how much I loved the relationship that developped between Fel and Estrella. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. And the scenes with just the both of them were so soft and delicate, almost as if precarious.
Okay, I think I’m gonna leave it here with this review because otherwise it would go on for far too long and become embarassingly rambly. Bottom line is I love this book with all my heart and everyone should read it.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Wild Beauty? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.