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.
Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Feiwel & Friends Candlewick for the ARC, Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. I just love the way Anna-Marie McLemore writes, the title for this third novel is perfect! There is such gorgeous worldbuilding with the gardens of the Nomeolvides women consisting of grandmothers, mothers, and cousins who are bound to the land of La Pradera where to leave is to die. The flowers, their colors, their beauty (and magic) Estrella and her cousins nurture was also a restrictive world where generations of Nomeolvides women have been cursed and their lovers (male or female) were punished by disappearing forever. Estrella and her cousins, Azalea, Gloria, Calla, and Dalia are all fiercely in love with Bay Briar, whose grandmother owned the lands and gardens of LaPradera. Would their gifts to LaPradera spare Bay from their venomous hearts? Estrella finds a boy who has no memory of who he is or where he comes from. Together, the Nomeolvides women decide this boy, Fel, is a gift - maybe he is going to save LaPredera and hopefully bring back their lovers. They all decide to love him as a brother. So begins McLemore’s stunning novel with her special kind of magical realism in plot, setting, imagery, dialogue, and language. This book was lush, full of confusion, lies, secrets and the drama of families, loss, and love. I could not put down this mesmerizing world of flowers, willful Nomeolvides women, Fel’s grasping for memories and loving the Nomeolvides women. Highly recommended!