Dark, intriguing, and guaranteed to tug the heartstrings, M. Ch. Landa’s Vandella is a young adult paranormal romance novel packed with mystery, danger, and highly relatable characters. Seventeen-year-old Maia has lived a difficult life thus far. Having lost her mother at a young age, been abandoned by her father, and gone through cancer, she is being raised by her adored elderly grandmother and struggling to fit in to the high school milieu while having several highly noticeable differences from the popular crowd.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as Maia has a couple of loyal best friends in Shelly, Lisa, and Rachel, who do their best to look out for her and build up her confidence. In addition, her academic prowess means that she is an in-demand study partner, which might just have opened up the opportunity for romance with Jase, the school’s popular and handsome quarterback. Maia doesn’t really think that she has much of a chance with Jase, but following her friends’ encouragement, she starts to feel some degree of hope.
Unfortunately, although she hasn’t wanted to admit it to herself or anyone else, Maia has been feeling ill again lately, experiencing tiredness, weight loss, and night sweats, in addition to noticing that the lymph node in her neck has swollen… just like last time. When the doctor confirms that her cancer has returned and she discovers that her grandmother has made a pact with Death in an attempt to have more time with her, Maia faces a devastating realization: she must sacrifice her soul to save her grandmother.
While romance is central to the plot, Vandella is a suspenseful supernatural thriller that follows Maia on a fast-paced and action-packed journey through the underworld as she attempts to come to terms with her health, her history, her fate, and the bargain she unhesitatingly made to safeguard her grandmother’s soul. Incorporating mythology and religious imagery from works such as Dante’s Divine Comedy, Landa’s portrayal of the afterlife is both disturbing and compelling, and it’s clear that not even the dead are safe from danger.
Maia is a complex character who has experienced significant suffering in her life, but she is also very much an average teenager and so shares the same hopes and concerns as her peers. She lacks self-confidence at the start of the story and is definitely preoccupied with fantasies of a romance with Jase, although she is also kind, considerate, brave, and selfless. She experiences considerable growth as a person throughout the book, taking charge of her destiny and showing a willingness to confront what she has previously taken pains to ignore. Also, despite the uncertainty concerning his motivation, the relationship she develops with Sidney is compelling.
Vandella is an emotional, exciting, and sometimes startling story that delivers punches to the gut in rapid succession while still leaving room for hope and the possibility of redemption. It’s sure to appeal to fans of paranormal romance.
|Page Count||303 pages|
|Publisher||Landa Publishings LLC|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|