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.
So, I don’t know if you all remember me GUSHING over my love of plants, BUT I LOVE plants. I love the use of flowers and herbs and weeds and just plants in general, in YA lit. It gives everything a very immersive, earthy quality that I haven’t seen any other way. I am just, gonna be honest, kind of obsessed with it (which is the entire reason I picked up this book). tl;dr–flowers are cool!
Overall, I liked this book. It had a really unique, beautiful plot, and the writing was really gorgeous. The descriptions and the use of flowers to describe emotions and movements was really incredible. However, the same descriptions did make the story a bit slow. All in all, the plot itself was probably only half of the pages, the rest of the book just being drawn out (but beautifully melodic) descriptions that were almost poetry. The way it was written, however much I enjoyed it, did make the pacing a bit boorish at times. But, I was invested enough in it that I continued reading.
The world itself was a bit confusing–based purely off of the context clues in the story, I could not determine the era. The speech and dress of every character seemed to be very middle of the 19th century–however they had phones, cars, and instant mashed potatoes…? I really couldn’t figure out the world building there, which I think has something to do with the writing style. Since everything was so descriptive and poetic, it read very much like a poem, or art, if that makes sense. It was like the point was to project a specific feeling or message, rather than a whole story/novel (like a regular YA novel). This probably makes little sense without reading the story, but I think it was worth being said, so you all have context going into the story. I was unprepared, and I think that took away from my experience a little bit.
This book presented gorgeous imagery, intriguing characters, fascinating use of culture and religion, and just overall a very unique take on story telling. I enjoyed it immensely, and it stands out in my 2017 releases for just… being so different. I do think that this story requires a patient reader, but I also think that anyone who would appreciate the really gorgeous artistry that is the descriptions and story telling probably is patient by nature (stop and smell the roses, as they say). This book was really an experience, and I hope you all give it a chance.
3.5 out of 5 stars.