Alexis holds a hardcover copy of Wild Beauty in one hand while standing in front of a fence and a forest.

Review: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Alexis:

Happy Friday, everyone! This week felt like it flew by.

I’ve just been consuming books lately, so I’m a little backed up on book reviews. But it’s time to talk about Wild Beauty.

I’ve been meaning to read McLemore’s books for a while now; she’s known for her magical realism books and her lyrical writing. And one of the best aspects of this book is her lush, lyrical writing. I love the way she describes the flowers and the gardens of La Pradera. I love magical realism, and reading this book often felt like reading a dream.

The plot: The Nomeolvides women are not like other women. They can create flowers with only their hands—but they’re also cursed. They can’t leave their magical garden estate of La Pradera without getting sick. And on top of that, if they fall in love too deeply, their loves disappear into thin air. But then a boy named Fel appears at La Pradera one day. And Estrella, one of the Nomeolvides girls, tries to help him figure out who he is and where he came from. 

I liked the bixeual representation, and the collection of girls was fun to read about, even if they tended to blend together. I do wish I got to know Estrella’s character even more; Fel was definitely the standout character to me, and the only one who felt like he had a real backstory and motivation. 

As much as I enjoyed McLemore’s writing and imagery, this book was very, very slow moving. And I don’t mind slow-moving, character-driven books. However, oftentimes, this book didn’t read like a book. I’m not sure what it felt like most of the time; maybe a long-form narrative poem? 

Besides the chapters from Fel’s POV, this book has no plot until the last quarter or so. And what surprised me was that the plot was amazing. It was so interesting, and made so much sense in the context of the book, that I found myself a little annoyed. Why didn’t McLemore weave this plot in earlier instead of describing flowers or the girls dancing and conversing for the hundredth time? The ending was powerful, and the way the plot unraveled was wonderful. I just wish it was present in more of the book. 

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐/5

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