Wild Beauty

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Oct 2017

Member Reviews

I really enjoyed the writing style of the author--very descriptive, almost lyrical writing, reminiscent of Patricia McKillip. I thought the story was good, but not great--the characters didn't capture my attention as much as I like.
Was this review helpful?
I want to love Anna-Marie McLemore's books, but I cannot  finish them. Don't let me stop you though! I will still say that this book seems like it will be lovely for people who like magical realism and her other works.
Was this review helpful?
Note: This review will be posted on my blog later in this week

Wild Beauty, like all of Anna-Marie’s Mclemore’s previous books, is filled to the brim with enchantment and beauty. The story contains all of the elements of a fairy tale: forbidden love, a family curse, an enchanted garden – mixed in with heartfelt exploration of sexuality, gender, and socioeconomic divide. Wild Beauty is a tale to be savoured, especially on warm spring days where fresh blooms are in sight and life is brimming with unexplored potential.

The Nomeovildes women have inhabited La Pradera for more than a century, locked to the place by a dark legacy. With the Nomeovildes’s natural gift, La Pradera flourishes with lush vegetation and fragrant blooms – but should any of the women try to leave La Pradera, they succumb to an agonising end. Even more tragic is a powerful curse which erases any person the Nomeovildes women loves too deeply. They’re not only physically trapped by this otherworldly garden, it also emotionally separates them from the rest of the world. In Wild Beauty, we watch as the youngest generation of Nomeovildes women traverse their savage inheritance.

Wild Beauty is written in Anna-Marie Mclemore’s signature whimsical yet intimate style. I’m continually floored by how she manages to blend magic with heart-rending realism. Although magical realism is a subgenre I absolutely adore, at times I find it difficult to relate to the characters within these stories. This is never the case with Anna-Marie’s books, especially in Wild Beauty. All five of the Nomeovildes ladies have noteworthy characterisation, despite the relatively short length of the novel. Fel and Estrella’s narrative voices are distinctive, yet both manages to retain a lyrical cadence that I found arresting.

Aside from the visual wonders in Wild Beauty, the book is also rich in representation. All five of the Nomeovildes girls are initially in love with Bay, a genderqueer character. The novel portrays the fluidity of sexuality, and throughout the course of the book we witness many different kinds of love. Without giving too much away, Fel’s character arc was also an excellent commentary on race and class. Wild Beauty is brimming with hope and warmth, despite the dark and oppressive atmosphere of its setting.

Speaking of La Pradera, I don’t think any review of Wild Beauty could be complete without mentioning its haunting setting. To the Nomeovildes, La Pradera is a garden, a refuge, a home, but it is also a prison. The land thrives under their ministration and grow rich in beauty, but it also guards these women jealously –  crushing them down whenever they attempt to leave. Within the gardens, the reader will find blooms of every kind, moonlit spring nights, and dozens of mementos from generations of hopeful Nomeovildes girls. The complex relationship between the family and their land is one of the central focus of the novel, and I found the resolution absolutely satisfying.
Was this review helpful?
Wild Beauty was one of the rare books where I absolutely adored the writing but ultimately failed to love due to the pacing. The writing is beautiful, lyrical, and magical, similar to Laini Taylor's or Roshani Chokshi's writing. As a reader, you'll savor each sentence, amazed at how vividly Anna-Marie McLemore conjures up the world of La Pradera. She captures the spirit of the gardens and the emotions of the Nomeolvides women perfectly. My enjoyment of the beauty of the writing is what kept me reading for most of the novel.

There were other parts of Wild Beauty that I adored and that the author handled beautifully. This novel has a focus on the importance of family and heritage. The LGBTQ representation was incredibly well done. There's some wonderful diversity. It deals with racism, sexism, and bias. It's about learning to accept yourself for who you are. It's about learning to love and to conquer your fears. Wild Beauty is one of the most feminist novels I've read lately. I would have absolutely adored it if the plot hadn't been so slow.

The pacing of the plot was the one main negative of this book for me. Everything progressed at a snail's pace until the ending. I actually ended up putting this one down a few times because the pacing just was too slow for me. However, the ending seamlessly combines the lyrical writing that permeates the book with some faster-paced action. If there rest of the book had been similar to the ending, it would have been a five-star read for me.

Wild Beauty is a beautifully written book that will immerse you in the world of the Nomeolvides women. You'll fall in love with them and your heart will break for them. This story will stay with you long after you turn the final page. I would recommend this one to readers who don't mind a slow-paced book.
Was this review helpful?
This book was so exquisite and exciting. I loved everything about it, the pacing, the writing, the characters, the story. It was so enjoyable to read something new and fresh!
Was this review helpful?
"Things growing just live in us," she said.

I should have reviewed this weeks ago when I finished it, but I didn't know how. This book nestled itself so deep into my heart, and left me speechless every time I tried to put my thoughts down in words. Anna-Marie McLemore is a brilliant, beautiful artist who has painted the most lovely images, and sculpted the most precious lives, in this story.

In this family, broken hearts were passed down like lockets. And Estrella had been enough a fool to think she could refuse the one meant for her simply by not opening her hands.

The Nomeolvides women are cursed to lives of growing beautiful things outside of them, while everything beautiful inside of them is turned to dust by heartbreak and loss. The imagery of their heartache is painted so brilliantly that I spent the majority of my time reading Wild Beauty trapped somewhere between rapture and sorrow. 

You see, the women have been cursed by the land that shelters them: each time a Nomeolvides woman falls in love, she will lose her to lover - either he leaves, or disappears. In the beginning of our story, all five of the youngest generation learn that they have each fallen in love with the same girl, and so, they decide that none of them can have her. Things change when a strange young man is returned from the ground for the first time, and the cousins must determine if a doomed love is worth it.

He was the chance that the raw will of La Pradera was stronger than the curse they passed down like antique lace.

Though Estrella, too, begins the story in love with the same young woman her cousins have fallen for, it's quickly evidenced that something is blooming between her and Fel, the boy she pulled from the ground. These two are so precious and wonderful together, and I just wanted to protect them from harm so badly! Their exchanges range anywhere from silly banter to the most adorable moments of endearment and intimacy, and I loved every bit of it.

Estrella had fallen in love twice. They had been different not because one was a woman and one was a boy, but because one was Bay and one was Fel.

More than anything, this book is diverse: it is beautifully queer, with lovely brown women (and men) who I can say absolutely nothing negative about. I obviously cannot speak for the racial representation as it isn't my place, but I can speak for the bisexual rep, and tell you that it moved me to shameless tears. It was one of the purest and most authentic representations of my sexuality that I have ever come across, and so much of what was said rang so true. If anyone asked me for a brilliant representation of bisexuality in fiction, I would immediately point them to the passage I pulled this quote from. 
Was this review helpful?
When I got this book, I was not expecting the wonder and magic that would fill me while reading it. Each page was a beautiful poem given to nature and to love. Following the stories, the struggle of the Nomeolvides women was overpowering. Their doomed love stories, but also all their family connections. The little things that made them specials. And then comes Fel', mysterious, dangerous for their heart, but also maybe a path to redemption. We discover the family members with him, we see their magic with his eyes. And always, this poetry in the writing. I was captivated from the first page by all the descriptions Anna-Marie McLemore does. She has a great talent, she will take you into her world, keeping a piece of your heart with her.
Was this review helpful?
Someone has already said it, but if you are a writer, you need to read this book. The writing is whimsical and lyrical, and although it can be a little confusing sometimes, I really enjoyed it. Yes, a little slow paced, but it will let you savor every moment. I’m a latina. I’ve read A LOT of magical realism in high school and then I stopped when I discovered YA fantasy/contemporary was a thing, I wanted to try new things. But let me tell you, this book has made me fall in love again with magical realism.

This book is diverse and empowering. Here are some things I liked:
-DIFFERENT CULTURES. It talks about the prejudices that still exists to this day, racism, discrimination against immigrants, but it also shows the beauty of the diversity in all these cultures. the cHARACTERS ARE LATINO. like me! I had no idea. I went into this book without knowing anything about it. I always read books in English but it's nice when you can identify a little with the characters.
-QUEER REPRESENTATION. I didn’t know it was LGBTQ, for some reason I thought it was going to be typical YA cheesy novel, but really surprised me. I liked the diversity, I like diverse books that don’t sell themselves as diverse books. Very good representation. It wasn’t forced, it just existed, like in our world.
-FAMILY AND LOVE: I loved Estrella and her cousins. They were all so different, but loved each other, this book celebrates the value of family and especially celebrates love. All kinds of love. REMEMBER KIDS, LOVE IS LOVE.
Was this review helpful?
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. (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.

Aside from that, I really enjoyed this novel. If it sounds like the kind of garden you want to wander through, I highly recommend picking up a copy from Amazon or Indiebound!
Was this review helpful?
https://www.bustle.com/p/anna-marie-mclemores-wild-beauty-is-a-magical-story-of-love-loss-family-curses-2460255
Was this review helpful?
Oh My Goodness!

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore was without a doubt one of the most gorgeous things I have read in a long time.

You all know that Magical Realism is my favorite sub-genre and that is part of what initially attracted me to Anna-Marie McLemorewas. This is the first time I have read her but I guarantee it will not be the last. I felt like I was lost for days (or just in a very pleasant daze/haze LOL) as I stepped into the amazingly lush and fantastical work of Wild Beauty.

This is Magical Realism at its finest. The reader is transported to a world where the fantastical is believable, where anything can happen and has happened. Where hopefully, preconceived notions can be left at the door and new worlds explored and embraced.

Set in the extraordinary estate of La Pradera with its magical gardens, Wild Beauty focuses on the generations of Nomeolvides (Forget-me-nots” in English) women who have carried with them through the ages what appears to be a curse, but is also a blessing. As with most things…there is a balance between the Light and the Dark.

Anna-Marie McLemore tells a beautiful tale that seamlessly weaves together issues like feminism, immigration and culture, sexual identity, etc. Watching the characters love and learn and grow isn’t an experience to be missed…and I dare each of you not to grow a little bit along with them.

Lyrical, whimsical, and beyond breathtaking – Wild Beauty stole my heart and a bet it will steal yours as well.
Was this review helpful?
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore was just a fantastic read.  I enjoyed the storyline and the characters of this book.
Was this review helpful?
This is my most anticipated 2017 release and I have been absolutely salivating over that cover. Oh, and I'm always here for the queer.

Details at a glance:

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre: YA Magical Realism

First published: 2017

Format: e-ARC

Pairings: F/F (or F/NB?), M/F (main)

Sexual content: Implied, open for interpretation

Rep: Bisexual protagonist and cousins (Word of God, unlabelled in story), primarily Latinx cast, queer supporting characters including a gay man, unlabelled Word of God genderqueer character

Ownvoices: Yes for Latinx heritage and queerness

Content warnings: challenged homomisia (-misia = hatred/dislike), challenged racism, hints of challenged bimisia, bit of cissexism

***

Anna-Marie McLemore's writing is absolutely gorgeous. So gorgeous, in fact, that it took me forever to read this book. The writing required my full, undivided attention and was so flowery at times that the concentration required sucked the energy out of me. I love the writing style, but this isn't one of those books I can knock over in a manner of hours. Your mileage may vary.

The writing style in WILD BEAUTY is dreamy and atmospheric, full of lush descriptions of scenery and characters. McLemore is a masterful writer of flowery prose. While it was tiring to read, I was absolutely enraptured.

All five of the Nomeolvides cousins are in love with the same girl, but they live in fear that their collective love will make her disappear. I use "girl" to describe Bay because that is how she is treated throughout the book, but she would appear to be the genderqueer character mentioned in McLemore's acknowledgements. I didn't find it to be super clear in the text, but I'm not genderqueer myself so maybe I was missing something. I don't think I've seen any genderqueer reviewers tackle this, but if someone has seen a review like that, please link me.

Anyway, the cousins give offerings to La Pradera, the land to which they are magically tied under pain of death, to try and save her, which leads to a boy, Fel, appearing in the gardens. Fel and the other protagonist, Estrella who is one of the Nomeolvides cousins, have incredible narrative voices and I love both characters to peaces. To be clear, their romance is the primary romance, with the other romance being prominent but not involving any POV characters.

The story is hugely family-focused, which makes sense given Estrella comes from a large family of assertive women, five per generation. While the romances are important, Estrella's strong family ties form the backbone of the story. Each of her cousins--Gloria, Azalea, Dalia and Calla--are incredibly distinctive, though it did take me some time to pick up on their differences. Much of Estrella's actions are fuelled by a need to protect her family.

The most important character in the story is easily La Pradera itself. The Nomeolvides women are beholden to its mercy and spend much of the story trying to interpret what the land is telling them. The mystery of why the land holds onto the women and takes their lovers from them, coupled with the urgency of Bay's wealthy family upsetting the apple cart of their lives, drives the plot.

From the narrative, it seems like the Nomeolvides women are Mexican-American, given they were historically displaced by American land treaties, and Fel and his brother were undocumented immigrants from a couple of communities in Spain (Andalusia and near Ceuta).

It's worth noting that bisexuality is pretty much exclusively described as an interest in men and women in this story, despite the apparent presence of a genderqueer character.

Overall, WILD BEAUTY is a gorgeous, atmostpheric read with an interesting mystery to unravel. The romances are gorgeous and the family connections are beautiful to read. It's one of my favourite books of 2017.
Was this review helpful?
This book was magical and loved the romance in this book. I loved seeing all the families connected but also with the growth of flowers. I loved the romance between the cousins but also seeing the loves come back. I also enjoyed seeing many different types of love in this book.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars - First of all, something needs to be said for the writing. It's absolutely lovely, and flowery in all sense of the word (hah, see what I did there?) Ugh. It's as if Anna-Marie painted the flowers themselves. The woman can make your mouth water. If you're a writer, this is a must read, much like Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer. I actually really loved Anna's other book, 'The Weight of Feathers'.

But if you are a reader looking for a fast-paced story, look elsewhere. It put me to sleep nearly every time I started reading it. The story is very slow moving and abstract, so go into it with the right expectations. The thing is... gah. You guys. As much as I loved the writing, so much of it was repetitive. Literally, the same sentence written over and over again, just with different words. And okay - it totally works in some instances. I get that. But it was too much for my personal taste. It was meant to be lyrical, which it was, but slowwwww. 

All that said, there's a lot to love about this story. The characters were lovely, as usual with McLemore's stories, though there were way too many family members for me to keep them straight. I absolutely adored Estrella and Fel, and I rooted for them, but I was expecting a more realistic plot twist. I dunno. That part fell a little short for me. A bit predictable. And a few other things left a sour taste in my mouth, though it was only minor details. 

I also feel like I learned some things and my heart broke for the characters many times over, but again... I feel like I would be raving so much more if the pace had been even. 

Anyway, what it boils down to, is I feel the same way about this as I did 'Strange the Dreamer'. I think it's a book many will love and cherish, and others will simply DNF because of the pace. Decide if you're the type of reader who is OK with an abstract, low moving plot, and if you are, check this out.
Was this review helpful?
A lush, beautiful, heart breaking story of family and past secrets with some of the most gorgeous writing I've read in a long time. 

It took me a bit to get into book and sort all the characters (there are a lot of names, especially at the beginning to adjust to), and it drug a little in parts for me, but the ending. Oh my goodness, the ending. I can't even deal with how perfect and fantastic the ending is. The ending brought everything together in ways that I couldn't imagine. Absolutely stunning. I definitely need to read the rest of the author's books.
Was this review helpful?
I recieved an e-ARC from Macmillan through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

3.5 STARS

"She kissed him slowly, so slowly that it felt more like a blessing than a sign she wanted him." 

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore is one of the most diverse books I've ever read. Not only does it seem like it was written by ink made from moonlight, but it incorportates sexuality representation and racial diversity whilst still supporting a story line that broke through all stereotypical Young Adult boundaries and blossomed into it's own unique personality.

This story has a burning spirit to it that completely set my soul alight, but it was as alluring as a flourishing flower garden, making you want to spend hours and hours in the enchanting tale that McLemore chose to tell.

In Wild Beauty, we follow a family who has been cursed to lose every man they ever love.

However, what if they are no longer falling in love with men?

Not only is the plot tentalisingly gripping, but the author's way with words is enough to tear your heart open and leave it flickering for life in the embers of a burning, cascading fire of adoration for this book.

(I'm a little bit obsessed, can you tell?)

HOWEVER.
(Yes, there always has to be a 'but')

For me, a lot of the character development fell extremely f l a t. 

Which is honestly completely suprising due to how seductive Anna-Marie McLemore's writing style is. 

I completely felt like that the five main characters in the book could be completely interchangeable in terms of names. It didn't matter if Estrella was saying something or if Gloria was - they all, agonisingly, had exactly the same dry personality. 

At least the side characters, Bay and Fel had a sprinkling of their own identity. 

If not, this lack of characterisation potentially could have driven me iNSANE.

Not to worry though, as the author managed to redeem herself just by the pure love that I have for her writing, and for the adorable hunk that is Fel:

"You're very beautiful... Maybe that's why it wants to keep you, because you make it beautiful." 

*Insert many many heart eyed emojis here*

For once, we had an adorable HEALTHY romantic relationship. There was no insta-hate that snaps into sudden "oh shoot we're in love", and there was no constant battling between the two. Yes, they had their fare share of arguments and disagreements, but neither of them tried to deliberately put the other in an uncomfortable situation. 

They slowly developed from friends to lovers over the course of the novel and I COULDN'T BE MORE ECSTATIC with this turn of events... FINALLY, NO FREAKING INSTA-LOVE!

Overall, the innards book has beauty to match its gorgeous cover and there is just one main issue to it that meant I couldn't rate it higher - I'd definitely recommend giving this book a go though!
Was this review helpful?
Calling Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing lush and beautiful isn’t exactly original, but damn if it isn’t the best way to describe her writing. It is really lush and beautiful – she creates these worlds you feel like you can just sink into and this was such a lovely read that made my heart ache. Like the cover, the writing is absolutely beautiful, while still peeling back layers of ugly things in society. The family dynamic is wonderful - cousins who are like sisters and mothers and grandmothers all raising everyone. The romantic relationship isn’t the biggest part of the story, but dear god there’s a line right at the end that killed me. I’m just gonna repeat myself and say that this book is absolutely beautiful and everyone should read it.
Was this review helpful?
Wild Beauty is a fairytale - a story of a family of women, their connection to the land and a tragic legacy that sees their lovers vanish. 

Admittedly, I was taken in, firstly, by the gorgeous cover art design, which is simply stunning. Then I was drawn in by McLemore’s beautiful storytelling style, which is descriptive and lyrical, and totally evokes a fairytale-like feeling while reading the book. It’s not a retelling - it stands on its own, and is wonderful.

Told in dual perspectives, we unravel the stories of two very different individuals: Estrella, a Nomeolvides girl charged with maintaining the enchanting gardens of La Pradera, like all the women in her family before her, and Fel, a boy who mysteriously appears in those gardens with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. The gardens themselves hold dangerous secrets and magic of their own.

I loved the family aspect of Wild Beauty; very early on we learn the make-up of Estrella’s family: she’s the second-youngest of five young women living on the estate, all of them sisters and cousins, all of them born of sisters and cousins, going back generations. Their magic is an innate part of their family, carried on through the females in their family, and these women take care of each other, no matter what. Throughout the story, the family ties are tested and time and time again, the women band together to support one another.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the way gender and relationships were written in this story: at the beginning of the book, Estrella and her 4 sisters/cousins are all in the love with the same young woman, Bay - a young woman who doesn’t conform to female stereotypes. While they’re in love with Bay, many of them have also had relationships with men, too, and while there is some discussion around the older women in their family not approving of their love of Bay, it’s mostly around the family curse, rather than from a place of prejudice. It was just lovely to read something that didn’t feel like the characters had to conform to one particular relationship type.

Overall, this is a beautiful story that totally captivated me from start to finish. I gave Wild Beauty 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Was this review helpful?