Publication Date:

September 2023



Original language and publisher

English (USA) | Astra House

Territories Handled

World excl. North America

Territories Sold

English (UK & BC excl Can) (Charco Press)


Literary Fiction


  • Earphones Award 2024 (winner)



Listeners will enjoy this deliciously twisted tale dynamically narrated by the author. . . Lozada-Oliva expertly manipulates her tone, cadence, and pacing to distinguish each character. Her emotional range fully conveys the predicament the women find themselves in. Using a deadpan tone, Lozada-Oliva adds levity to paradoxical situations and to witty dialogue as the audiobook touches on motherhood, familial relationships, career ambition, and male/female tension with humor and thoughtfulness. — AudioFile, 2024 Earphones Award

I’m a sucker for a sister story, and this novel (which follows three granddaughters of the titular matriarch Candelaria as they come of age in Guatemala and the US) is spooky, sweet, stunningly well-written, and the perfect thing to slip into your ultra-literary sibling’s stocking this Christmas. —Emma Specter, Vogue

“I just started Candelaria by Melissa Lozada-Oliva who is, first of all, so smart and so funny but is also the cutiest cutie and has a delightful instagram.” — Samantha Irby, bitches gotta eat, Substack

“Lozada-Oliva’s imagination draws upon an inventive mix of narrative traditions — from melodrama to zombie horror to slacker comedy . . . a soapy, apocalyptic picaresque.” — Tracy O’Neill, The New York Times Book Review

“‘What’s the point of lying at the end of the world?’ In the cataclysms holding the center of her wild and exuberant novel, Melissa Lozada-Oliva shows our willingness to still keep big secrets and hide hard truths, our everyday fears always greater than the chaos of a world on the brink. Candelaria goes for broke and why not? ‘Names erode,’ we are warned. But good stories? Never.” —Manuel Muñoz, author of The Consequences

“Melissa takes us on an intense journey about the end of days, showing us that family might be the only thing that will save us, all while throwing in some Stephen King-level horror that’ll make your heart race. This ride’s a wild one – and you’re gonna wanna be on it.” —Oz Rodriguez, director of Vampires Vs. the Bronx

“Electric from the first page, Lozada-Oliva’s story of high-octane family dynamics and transformation is swiftly paced and deliciously vivid. Sparkling with character and dialogue, Candelaria is not only a novel, but a multisensory experience.” —Amanda Montell, author of Cultish and Wordslut

“Candelaria is a thrilling ride. Melissa Lozada-Oliva captures with deft humor the lives of a matriarch and her brood of daughters and granddaughters as they survive addiction, patriarchy, capitalism, natural disasters, and zombies. Reading Lozada-Oliva’s work is like attending a family reunion, one where you hang in the backyard smoking a joint with your favorite cousin. Melissa is a smart, compassionate, and hilarious writer. I will read anything she writes.” —Alejandro Varela, author of the 2022 National Book Award finalist The Town of Babylon

“Buckle up—Candeleria is a literary ride unlike any other. A wild journey through generational trauma, untold truths, sibling rivalry and intimacy via backroads lined with cinema, cult fitness and the supernatural. Fear not, though the landscape Lozada-Oliva creates is utterly original and chaotic at times, she is a masterful guide whom I would follow anywhere. Heartbreaking, hilarious and absurd in the very best way, Candelaria sticks to your soul and leaves you seeing the world and the people in it a bit differently.” —Xochitl Gonzalez, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and author of Olga Dies Dreaming

“Melissa Lozada-Oliva has crafted a new blueprint for the generational family drama, injecting a healthy dose of post-apocalyptic body horror to present the kaleidoscopic shattering and reunification of a family besieged by capitalism, trauma, and a diabolical wellness cult seeking to co-opt their pain as a means of ‘healing’ the world. Equal parts hilarious, horrific, tender, and brutal, Candelaria is possibly one of the most accurate depictions of a neurodivergent spiral I have encountered, imbuing its chaos with endless heart and hope.”  —Violet James McMaster, Lahaska Bookshop

“Melissa Lozada-Oliva must be an all-knowing witch – her prose crackles and spits with all the same fire as her poetry. Three cheers for this exquisite, trippy book on family, sisterhood, and magic.” —Bex Frankeberger, Books Are Magic

“Melissa Lozada-Oliva has crafted a new blueprint for the generational family drama, injecting a healthy dose of post-apocalyptic body horror to present the kaleidoscopic shattering and reunification of a family besieged by capitalism, trauma, and a diabolical wellness cult seeking to co-opt their pain as a means of ‘healing’ the world. Equal parts hilarious, horrific, tender, and brutal, Candelaria is possibly one of the most accurate depictions of a neurodivergent spiral I have encountered, imbuing its chaos with endless heart and hope.” —Violet James McMaster, Lahaska Bookshop

“On one page there’s a disgusting depiction of cannibalism, on the next there’s some cultish antics, then two pages later there’s some of the most beautiful insight on family, love, and trauma. This book made me look at my own family dynamic with fresh eyes. A must must MUST read.” —Jules Rivera, Books Are Magic

“I love Melissa’s weird brain, I trust her as a storyteller and her innovation keeps me at the edge of my seat. A perfect book for fans of Nightbitch and Patricia Wants to Cuddle.” —Fawzy Taylor, A Room of One’s Own

“I never thought I would describe something as One Hundred Years of Solitude meets The Royal Tenenbaums—if both those creators watched Suspiria and Night of the Living Dead back-to-back during a popcorn-heavy slumber party. But then I dove into Candelaria and was met with all my favorite influences, along with the voice of someone entirely beautiful and unique to the genre.” —Sarah Canon, Third Place Books

“Bonkers . . . the author’s funhouse visions are hard to turn away from.”—Publishers Weekly

“Equal parts poignant, hilarious and horrific, this novel is a macabre feast for the senses — try a taste if you dare.” Katherine Ouellette, WBUR

“The debut novel reads like a dark lyrical dream, best not indulged before bed, so as not to disturb your sleep.” —Jordan Snowden, The Seattle Times

“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

“This book is a completely wild ride that is unlike any book I’ve ever read before and I think will be a hit for lovers of fantasy and literary fiction alike. . . it is hilarious, unexpected and an utterly refreshing take on inherited trauma, familial expectations and sibling bonds. . . Absolutely expect the unexpected here and to laugh and cry while you’re continually surprised.” —Xochitl Gonzalez, ABCNews

“You have not read a book quite like the one you are currently staring at, I can guarantee it, but do try to prove me wrong. Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a siren–pulling you in with her audacious plot with fertility cults, generational trauma, cannibalism, and the most memorable journey to an Old Country Buffet. Reading Candelaria is an act of metamorphosis and by the end you’ll wonder why you waited at all to read it.” —Quinn Illgen, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe

Candelaria by Melissa Lozada-Oliva has everything . . . If you like strong characters who grow throughout a novel, women supporting each other in extreme ways, and you aren’t afraid to get a little weird, you will really enjoy this one. —Rani Schloss, GBH (Boston)


Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

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 from the author of Dreaming of You, Melissa Lozada-Oliva.

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.

Told with tongue-in-cheek humor and sharp cultural criticism, Candelaria is an unsettling, raucous debut novel 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.

Marketing Information

  • For fans of The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina, Her Body & Other Parties, Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Sorrow.
  • Included on the CrimeReads list of “30 More Horror Titles to Look Out for in 2023” published on July 28, 2023
  • Included on the list of “20 Horror Books Releasing in 2023 That You Should Read!” by Books of Brilliance published on August 1, 2023
  • Included in the “September Most Anticipated” newsletter sent on August 18, 2023
  • Featured on The Millions “September Preview: The Millions Most Anticipated.”
  • Mentioned by Hilary Leichter  in her Grub Street Diet on August 25, 2023
  • Mentioned by Liberty Hardy in the intro to her list of “10 Terrifying New Horror Books to Read in September 2023” for Book Riot published on September 6, 2023
  • Included in the Crime Reads list of “The Most Anticipated Crime Fiction of Fall 2023” published on September 7, 2023
  • Included in the HipLatina list of “14 New Books by Latinx Authors to Read for Latinx Heritage Month” published on September 7, 2023
  • added it to their list of “All the New Horror, Romantasy, and Other SFF-Crossover Books Arriving in September!” published on September 7, 2023
  • Appeared on the Jump Scares list of “All the New Horror Books Coming in September 2023” published on August 30, 2023
  • Part of the Bookshop Santa Cruz list of “Amplify Preorders Fall 2023”
  • Included on the Gizmodo list of “September’s Long List of New Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Books Is Here” published September 1, 2023 (translated into Spanish)
  • Featured on the list of “September 2023 Most-Anticipated Books”
  • At the top of the WBUR listicle of uncanny fall books
  • Featured on The Seattle Times list “Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with these 5 books” by Jordan Snowden
  • Included in the Literary Hub and Book Riot listicles of New Releases out today
  • An Editor’s Pick in the New Releases newsletter sent out on September 19, 2023
  • Interview with Melissa Lozada-Oliva on Paul Semel‘s blog (with a shout out and Amazon link to Puloma Ghosh’s Mouth coming Spring ’24)
  • Included in the Dark Side of the Library podcast in their episode/YouTube broadcast collecting “Dark Adult Fiction Books Coming Out September 2023 Part 1” (discussion begins at 6:42)
  • Recommended by John Manuel Arias in his interview on The Maris Review podcast
  • Tor ran an excerpt
  • Publishers Weekly published a mostly favorable review
  • The Brooklyn Reader highlights the book launch event in their roundup of “Where to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in Brooklyn.
  • Recommended by Xochitl Gonzalez on the Today Show and ABC News
  • Featured in the September 25th “Highbrow/Brilliant” quadrant of New York magazine’s Approval Matrix
  • Highlighted on the Letras Latinas blog on their list of “Haunting Books to Read this October”
  • Recommended by Rosa Hernandez of Third Place Books in Seattle in the Electric Literature article “What You Should Be Reading This Fall According to Indie Booksellers” published on October 6, 2023
  • Included in the’s best books of 2023
  • Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s photo with Sadie Dupie at The Head and The Hand Bookstore in Philadelphia, on October 16th, was Publisher’s Weekly photo of the day on Instagram on October 25, 2023
  • Mentioned by Samantha Irby in her November 13, 2023 post on her substack, bitches gotta eat
  • HipLatina: “Best of 2023: 17 of the Best Books by Latinx Authors Published This Year”
  • USA Today: “The Best Books of 2023 According to USA Today”
  • “The Best Books of 2023”
  • Melissa Lozada-Oliva has a new short story in the “Volume 4: Tough Cookie” issue of Cake Zine
  • On the BookTrib list of “10 Award-Winning Audiobooks to Cozy Up With Before Spring”
  • Candelaria and Dreaming of You are cited as influences by writer Melissa Mogollon in her interview with Poets & Writers
  • On the GBH (Boston Public Broadcasting)’s list of “GBH Staff Picks for Your Vacation Read,” published June 24, 2024
  • Mentioned by Kevin Barry in the Orange County Register, published July 12, 2024

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