This year I discovered a new Favorite Author (or a new "One of my favorite authors". I have a few...). And that would be Anna-Marie McLemore. She writes unusual/unconventional love stories that are always somewhat magical and fantastical, although not overly so. Even though McLemore is fairly new to the world of YA Lit, I've loved everything she's written so far. And her latest, Wild Beauty, doesn't disappoint.
For over one hundred years the Nomeolvides family has been cursed: Each generation produces only daughters, and if these girls fall in love too deeply, those they love disappear. Vanish into thin air never to be seen again. Further, each Nomeolvides girl is born with the power to create flowers from nothing. Believed to be witches, the family was long ago exiled to the famed gardens of La Pradera, where they must remain under the threat of death.
When Estrella Nomeolvides and her cousins all fall in love with Bay Briar, they fear she will disappear like so many loves before. So they perform a ritual to appease La Pradera, each sacrificing their most treasured possession with the hopes that the land will leave Bay alone. As a result, the unexpected happens: A strange boy appears on the grounds. He knows nothing of who he is or where he came from. The only clue to his identity is a scrap of cloth pinned to his shirt, on which the letters "F-E-L" has been written.
Beliving he is a long-lost love the land returned, the Nomeolvides women take this boy into their care. And no one feels more attached to him than Estrella, who believes her sacrifice, more than anyone else's, was responsible for bringing him back. But who is Fel really? What is his connection to La Pradera? As Estrella and Fel dig deeper into the history of La Pradera, falling deeper in love with each passing day, they learn a dark secret: Maybe Estralla's family is not where the curse comes from after all.
Like the author's past two books (When the Moon Was Ours and The Weight of Feathers) Wild Beauty is Magical Realism at its very best. McLemore's lyrical writing style reminds me of Alice Hoffman or Kathi Appelt. Her stories are ones I want to get lost in - and remain in long after I've finished reading the final page. Yes, this IS a "Kissing Book," but it's one I would be happy to recommend to anyone. Because this book is simply incredible!