What else can I say? I am a thorough McLemore fan through and through. I had extremely high expectations going into Wild Beauty, because I loved her other books so much, especially When the Moon Was Ours. And I was not disappointed in the slightest. Wild Beauty is exquisite, an ode to embracing the love we deserve and uncovering our secrets, all written in a gorgeous prose with exceptionally vivid language.
When a boy appears to the Nomeolvides women, they know it must be a sign. A sign of what they do not know. But boys just do not appear in the gardens of La Pradera. Especially, considering that those that they love disappear without a trace – a curse of being loved by one of the Nomeolvides. So they care for this boy, who thinks his name is Fel, with caution, unsure of the role he has to play in their lives. And with good reason, because Fel is just the warning, alerting the world, and the gardens of the Nomeolvides, that change is coming. Alerting those who inhabit its grounds, that a secret can only stay buried for so long.
McLemore’s language is always a thing of beauty and the descriptions of flowers in this book is stunning. I did not even know I was missing it in my life, until I read it. It is, of course, flowery, but also detailed and makes you look at the world differently after reading. There was an abundance of dazzling quotes not only in the descriptions, but in the dialogue of her characters and the revealing of their secrets.
Character-wise, I loved them all. Everything from Fel’s tenderness and fierce loyalty, to Estrella’s spirit, to her cousin’s individual personalities. There is bisexuality representation and as a whole, the Nomeolvides women have more secrets than meets the eye on first glance. Which is impressive, considering the speculation that surrounds them – if they are witches, or what their powers entail.
Considering the plot, McLemore excels at writing stories with vivid characters and her Nomeolvides family is no different. The families within this book are not only of blood and petals, but also of our own creation. This had the complex family dynamics of Weight of Feathers mixed with the tenderness of the relationship in When the Moon Was Ours and it was sheer perfection. The plot is a colorful journey of petals, parties, and penance. It is a story of family, the truth, and love. The ways these interact is a mystery that will unfold before your eyes in a suspenseful way that will keep you flipping pages. I was shocked by the twist of genius in how the plot was resolved, that only deepened the meaning of this book.
What I loved most, although it feels treasonous to say so, are the themes found in the book. This book is an affirming tale of our struggle accepting love. McLemore taps into this universal fear most of us have and transforms it before our eyes – which is the true strength, in my opinion, of magical realism as a sub-genre. There is a necessity in opening the gates of our heart and acknowledging the rose tipped thorns that lie in wait. And what McLemore highlights is that there is a vulnerability in doing so, but also beauty.
Wild Beauty has a beauty that is overflowing. With language that blooms in front of you, characters that capture your heart, and a story that opens your eyes, it is not to be missed. This is not only a book of splendor, but also deals with the presence of secrets that lie in wait, under the surface, spreading rot, and fighting to get out. Are we able to see our ghosts in the light of day and come to terms with our past?
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.
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