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

Estrella and her four cousins have been told anyone they love too deeply will vanish, so what happens if they all fall for the same young woman?

McLemore’s latest original fairy tale follows the Nomeolvides (“Forget-Me-Not”) women, of implied Mexican descent: for generations, they’ve tended the gardens of La Pradera, a beautiful property set in an undisclosed location (and time period). Although they possess inexplicable abilities to grow flowers with their bare hands, Estrella, Azalea, Calla, Dalia, and Gloria pay a price for their magic. Their elders have warned them that if they love someone, he will eventually disappear. They must also never permanently leave the grounds, or they will die. When the cousins realize, to shared horror, that they are all in love with wonderful Bay Briar—heiress to La Pradera—they pray for her safety by scattering treasured offerings in the magical garden’s dark pond. The next day, Estrella discovers the garden has given something back: a mysterious Spanish-speaking young man, in century-old clothes, with nothing more than a half-ripped label spelling “FEL.” The women speculate that Fel, who can remember nothing about his past, is one of their predecessor’s missing lovers. As Estrella bonds with the sensitive and attentive Fel, she begins to question the rules governing the Nomeolvides women’s lives, the legendary curse keeping them tied to this garden, and the nature of love. A garden is the perfect setting for McLemore’s plush, sensuous prose, which unspools the story with delicious languor.

Part mystery, part love story, this evocative, lush novel is a delight for sophisticated readers. (Magical realism. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-12455-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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