Anna-Marie McLemore’s lyrical Wild Beauty loses its way

Wild Beauty Anna-Marie McLemoreWILD BEAUTY, by Anna-Marie McLemore, Feiwel & Friends, Oct. 3, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)

Wild Beauty, by Anna-Marie McLemore, is the third young adult novel I’ve read recently that has garnered rave reviews but failed to make an impression on me.

At the center of Wild Beauty are the Nomeolvides women. The Nomeolvides women have always stood out, even when they try to blend in. They are tied to the earth, and the bond is unbreakable.

Nearly a century ago, the Nomeolvides women moved to La Pradera, a barren estate no one would want to visit. But under the Nomeolvides’ touch La Pradera becomes a lush estate one can only dream of.

The estate’s beautiful gardens draw visitors from all over the world, but they come at a price — if one of the Nomeolvides women falls too deeply in love, their lover will vanish.

This seems the path everyone will follow until a strange boy appears in the gardens. He doesn’t remember who he is or where he came from. It appears La Pradera has given the women a gift, but it’s up to them to decide what to do with it.

I started out Wild Beauty with high hopes, and at first, they were met. McLemore’s prose is lyrical and inviting. I found her descriptions of the women pushing their fingers into the dirt and sprouting plants and flowers intriguing. But after a while, the prose seems to get in the way of the story. And halfway through the novel, I still felt like I knew next to nothing about the main characters.

Though I struggled with Wild Beauty, it has received a number of starred reviews, so I’ve included a few quotes and links to full reviews below.

Part mystery, part love story, this evocative, lush novel is a delight for sophisticated readers.”Kirkus

A solid, must-have addition to McLemore’s growing body of work, this fantastical tale will delight her fans and entice a new audience.” — School Library Journal

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About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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