Book Review: Vandella
Reviewed by Alexandria Ducksworth
M.Ch. Landa excels with this dark YA fantasy.
There are never enough paranormal books for YA readers. Vandella is a lovely addition to the mix. The story has its heartfelt moments, frightening events, and a good adventure readers will enjoy. With his heroine Maia, Landa captures teen life with a paranormal twist. What teenage girl doesn’t wish their young lives were more magical and adventurous?
Maia is trying to survive high school with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. All she wants is to live a normal life and win her football crush’s attention without the bothersome popular mean girl getting in the way. Things aren’t looking too good for her though.
Suddenly, an accident throws her into the hospital where she encounters Sidney, a soul-taker from the Underworld. Maia has a chance to save her poor grandmother and possibly see her mother. What she faces won’t be easy, and falling for the mysterious soul-taker only makes things more difficult.
Vandella is one unique story. It carries serious and dark undertones, fitting since the Underworld is a major instrument in the tale. Landa has a similar storytelling style to Neil Gaiman; he introduces familiar mythologies and inputs his own stories about them. Not only do Landa’s monsters live in the dark realm, but angels do too. However, some of these holy figures aren’t the shining do-gooders we’re used to seeing.
The Underworld is a nightmare of its own, not a place for mortal teenagers. This frightening world Landa has created resembles the Hell in Dante’s Inferno where souls are forever punished based on their sins. There are places where good souls have a decent living. Meanwhile, there are areas where you wouldn’t let your worst enemy explore. One thing is for sure—Landa has a deft hand in horror. I hope he dives further into the genre more in his future books.
Landa’s characters are quite memorable. Readers will always remember Maia, her dear grandmother, the friendly souls Maia has encountered, and even Sidney. Sidney is hard to put a finger on. Landa does well in hiding his true motives until the very end. Readers can’t tell if he’s truly a good character or leading Maia to her eternal doom. Undoubtedly, readers will soften to Sidney’s mannerisms. You want to trust him, to believe in him. It’s no wonder he has captured Maia’s heart. While he may be suspicious sometimes, he is definitely worth caring about.
Paranormal YA readers will absolutely devour Vandella. It’s emotional, dark, surprising, and fun. Landa has this wonderful skill of shocking readers with every chapter. They will think they know something only to fall deeper into the story’s rabbit hole. Plus, the romance is quite moving. The more Maia learns Sidney’s history, the more he magnetizes her. There is no escape, and it’s one of the many things keeping readers glued to the book. M.Ch. Landa deserves all the applause for Vandella. It’s a must-read for your TBR list.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Dark
Print Length: 258 pages
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