3 out of 4 stars
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Enchanting and emotional, Tulip by Alice L. Lumbard is a novel sprung from the curious discovery that tulip bulbs are edible. This fictional story begins in the spring of 1886 with a woman known as Lotus, who has returned home to place her father to rest and take his place as Shaman. She is mystical, mysterious, and has a deeply invested interest in her collection of huge red and yellow tulips. No one is sure why, but the Holland Horticultural Society knows that these bulbs are rare and wants to know exactly where they come from. A botanist comes searching and is quickly seduced by both Lotus and the incredible value of the tulip bulbs. As he travels, however, a bundle of bulbs goes missing. From there, the power and secrets of the Shaman's tulip bulbs are slowly revealed, overturning the lives of everyone who takes possession of them.
Tulip is easily one of the most unique books I have ever read. The enigmatic nature of the tulip bulbs is fascinating. The bulbs carry much more than just beauty and nutrition, and the reader continues to wonder about them until the very end of the book. There are only a handful of characters, yet each has enough personality and individual growth to fill the story. They are all connected not only through the tulip bulbs but also through a curious undercurrent that feels otherworldly and immersive. This undercurrent is my favorite part of the book, as it sets the tone for both mystery and tragedy.
Lumbard's writing style is captivating, much like a landscape painting at which a viewer could stare for hours, constantly noticing something new. She chooses language and structures sentences so wonderfully that the reader cannot help but get lost in the story. This nicely parallels the way the characters get wrapped up in their own actions, reactions, and consequences. Further, the novel has a satisfying ending, as Lumbard answers all questions and ties up loose ends in a natural way.
The only negative point that I have about this book is the number of grammatical and typographical errors. For this, unfortunately, I cannot give this book the perfect rating that another round of editing would solidify. I rate Tulip 3 out of 4 stars with the hope that readers not too distracted by errors would pick up this book and escape the world for a while.
Lumbard's debut novel is for readers who enjoy some action and adventure but don't mind a steady pace or a touch of the supernatural. Themes of love, loyalty, greed, and the power of assumptions run through the pages. There is also some sexual content, though it is not crude and can better be described as tasteful sensuality. Carefully crafted with both whimsical and real-world motifs, Tulip is an experience unlike any other.
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