A Novel

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Pub Date 19 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 26 Sep 2023

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"With tongue-in-cheek humor and sharp cultural criticism, this novel is an unforgettable exploration of diasporic identity politics and the dangers of wanting to belong at any cost." —Xochitl Gonzalez, The TODAY Show

"Lozada-Oliva's apocalyptic debut novel in prose is an ode to complicated family dynamics, the overwhelming ways love can consume and eat us alive." —Pamela Avila, USA Today

Your granddaughters are lost, Candelaria. Bianca, the brainy archaeologist, had to forfeit her life's work in Guatemala after her advisor seduced and deserted her. Paola, missing for over a decade, resurfaces in Boston as a brainwashed wellness cultist named Zoe. And Candy, the youngest, is a recovering addict who finds herself pregnant by a man she's not even sure ever existed. None of this concerns you of course, until a cataclysmic earthquake hits Boston. Now you must traverse the crumbling city to reach the Watertown Mall Old Country Buffet—for a reason you still cannot disclose—battling strange entities and your own strange past to save your granddaughters and possibly the world.

Author of Dreaming of You Melissa Lozada-Oliva delivers an unsettling, raucous debut novel written with tongue-in-cheek humor and sharp cultural criticism that unearths one troubled family’s legacy, feasting on diasporic identity politics and examining the limits of bodily autonomy and the dangers of wanting to belong at any cost.

A sweeping, mystical novel following three generations of women as they grapple with muddled pasts and predetermined futures, Candelaria is a story of love that eats us alive.
"With tongue-in-cheek humor and sharp cultural criticism, this novel is an unforgettable exploration of diasporic identity politics and the dangers of wanting to belong at any cost." —Xochitl...

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ISBN 9781662601804
PRICE $28.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 18 members

Featured Reviews

I've read Peluda and Dreaming of You and one thing I can count on is Melissa giving us a weird lil story. And you know what? I'm gonna eat it up every time.

This novel is ridiculous in the exact way I like. Full of family drama and trauma and betrayal and love all happening alongside a zombie apocalypse set off by a "health wellness" terf cult? I'm still trying to figure some things out as I don't feel that the book adequately explained certain details but it is what it is. As a Latina with a mom who had a fraught relationship with her mom, the family dynamics felt all too familiar with it's exploration of how we deal with a parent who hurt you when all they ever knew was hurt from their own. Lots of heavy, dark stuff in this one. Thanks to NetGalley and Astra Publishing House for the ARC!

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I loved this strange little book. The story (and Melissa Lozada-Oliva's writing voice) perfectly captured the vibe of some of my favorite horror movies—as chaos, destruction, and otherworldly/evil forces reign, the characters maintain a sort of flippant self-centeredness throughout it all. All of the horror was somehow completely unexpected, and felt really visceral and surreal. At the core of the story is a family trying to deal with the various betrayals, traumas, and failed expectations they've all endured collectively and individually. Even outside of the horror elements, this story got really dark, but I appreciated the way all of the sisters loved and hated each other so forcefully throughout the novel. It felt very familiar, like yeah your sister is a bitch, but you would still brave an apocalypse for her. There were a few elements of the story that could have been tied up a little more, but I'm not one for nitpicking the enjoyment out of a horror romp. There were here were a handful of typos/mistakes in the digital ARC, and that, combined with the PDF format made it a little tricky to follow at times. But either way, I'm so excited to pre-order and read this again (and make all my horror-loving friends read it, too).

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I am forever grateful to Astra House Publishing, Melissa Lozada Oliva, and Netgalley for sending me this gorgeous ARC, along with Digital access as well. I was immediately drawn to the chaos of the cover, featuring a female family collective, raising giant forks in a battle cry, and literally upon cracking this spine, finished this book in less than a day. It WAS THAT GOOD. Candelaria is set to hit shelves on September 19, 2023, so you still have time to add this baby to your TBR.

The world is ending and our elder matriarch, Candelaria is in peril after the loss of her husband and beloved son throughout the years. Flash forward, the year is 2025, and her three granddaughters are all in trouble and in need of her help, but a apocalyptic earthquake is keeping her and her daughter from her grandchildren: Candy, Bianca, and Paola (who now goes by Zoe.

Paola (Zoe) has left behind her broken marriage to start anew in a toxic wellness cult that prides themselves on spinning, meditation, and pregnancy. Bianca has just been dumped by her professor and fired from her archeological dig in Guatemala. Candy, a former heroin addict, is doing her best to get by, but finds herself carrying the child of her sister’s professor/ex-boyfriend, and her hunger for raw meat and human flesh is starting to grow a bit alarming.

Told from various viewpoints, readers get a view into this messy family and how their relationships with each other tatter and tear across the years, until they finally hit their breaking point when an ages old cult takes rein at the end of the world. So fun.

YALLL Need to pick this one up IMMEDIATELY!

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Thanks to NetGalley and Astra Publishing House for providing me an eARC!

I was a huge fan of Melissa's debut, "Dreaming of You," and I was excited when I saw on her Instagram that she was writing her second book. I love multigenerational stories, especially ones that have a surreal vibe to them. This book was that and so much more. I highly recommend this book because it didn't disappoint. I loved the originality of the story plot, too!


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Maybe this book might not be for everyone but I found it gripping, unique, voicy and fun. I loved this book.

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Following the success of her 2021 novel in verse “Dreaming of You,” a bizarre, obsessive love story about bringing “Queen of Tejano Music” Selena Quintanilla-Pérez back to life, Lozada-Oliva returns with another strange, disconcerting work just in time for spooky season. There are cults, cannibalism and a world-ending earthquake balanced with cutting cultural criticism, family drama and betrayals. The debut novel reads like a dark lyrical dream, best not indulged before bed, so as not to disturb your sleep.

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I LOVE Melissa Lozada-Oliva. Her poetry is stunning and I love showing some of her work to my students.

So when I saw Candelaria, I knew I had to read it! I was expecting it to be a novel in verse, but was pleasantly surprised by what I got instead. This is what you would consider a "standard" book, written in prose, but the story was unique, strange, and wonderfully done.

These characters are well developed, intriguing, and offer a weird, somewhat horrific world that I actually felt was pretty relatable. Essentially, the story deals with a family overcoming negative past experiences, which brings them together. The relations amongst these people feels incredibly genuine. They drive each other crazy, but there's also so much love there, which is so real.

I thought this story brought a unique storyline and perspective, a worthy read to be sure!

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