by Anna-Marie McLemore
Source: Received in an OwlCrate box (October "Find Me In The Forest")
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Magical Realism
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
I'm not sure if it's the magical realism, or the author's writing style, or what exactly it was that I didn't like about this book, but I was disappointed. We received it in the October OwlCrate box, which I was soooo excited about! I had added this one to my Goodreads To Read list ages ago, because it was so gorgeous. Then when we got it in the box, with the exclusive cover, I was just over the moon. So I read it fairly soon after, and, well... Not what I was expecting or hoping for from this book.
I have a huge tendency to not really read too much about a book before I pick it up. Very generally speaking, if somebody posts a picture of a book cover on Instagram with a little blurb (ex: it's about this family of women who live in a beautiful garden and grow flowers from their hands), that's usually enough for me. Sometimes I will read the full synopsis on Goodreads, or if I'm holding the physical book I might read the flyleaf, but I really truly unapologetically judge books by their covers and the recommendations of my peers. Not reviews - I never read reviews before I read a book - but if someone I know says "I loved this book!" and it's a genre I enjoy, and it has a pretty cover, to boot... good enough!
All that to say that I honestly hadn't read what the book was about before it came in the OwlCrate box. The synopsis is intriguing, so I was anxious to read it, but, I had a really hard time enjoying it.
The imagery is absolutely beautiful, there is no denying that. The author's description of flowers and colours is exceptional. The story itself, I felt a bit lost in. I see how everything tied together in the end, but getting there... there were many things that just felt like distractions from the main story, or unnecessary embellishments, or I don't know... I really wasn't sure where things were going or what the purpose of all these characters was, or anything until probably 2/3 into the book. The characters also weren't all that special to me. I liked them, but didn't feel there was much to connect to, and there were so many!
I may give the author's other books a chance, should I ever come across them, but I wouldn't go out of my way to find her books, based on how I felt about Wild Beauty. They all have great synopses, but so did this one, so...
In the end, it was an ok read for me. It only has a 3.73 star rating on Goodreads so I obviously am not the only one who feels it may have missed the mark. Not sure I would recommend it, but I know that a lot of people on the Life & Lit and OwlCrate Society groups loved it, so... Read at your own risk, I guess! :)
My Goodreads rating: