Don’t Let the Y.A. Label Fool You

I had the chance to read a Y.A. paranormal novel, The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos.  I’ve known Brenda for years and much to my embarrassment, I hadn’t read her work.  We write two different types of fiction.  I write crime and thriller novels like Little River and she creates paranormal beings living in with us common folk.

Y.A. novels tend to get pigeon-holed.  The knock on them, justified or not, is that the stories aren’t very complex, the characters are one dimensional and everything revolves around the heroine falling hopelessly in love.  Exactly the kind of book Chuck Norris curls up with on a cold winter night.


So, in spite of Chuck Norris threatening to revoke my man-card, I decided to give the Emerald Talisman a try.

Without giving away any spoilers, The Emerald Talisman follows Julia, a high school student who discovers a new mysterious friend with a dark secret that will change the course of her life.  If you recall anything about being sixteen, then you remember that emotions run right below the surface and change faster than Miley Cyrus wearing out a foam finger.  Julia possesses a paranormal ability, which we learn about in the first few pages (so I’m not calling it a spoiler) allowing her to read the emotions of those around her.  Imagine that sensory overload from your high school days.

So, I’m reading this story and I’m enjoying the interaction of the characters, the setting and then it dawns on me – I’m reading a Y.A. book and I like it.  It’s written so well that the swooning, and girly stuff isn’t the first thing you notice.  Sure it’s there, but it doesn’t detract from the story, it becomes the fabric of something much bigger.

Although a teenager, Julia is clearly the glue that holds her family together and you end up pulling for her as the story unravels.  She has to balance her desire to be a normal girl with her attraction to the mysterious stranger who pops in and out of her life unexpectedly.  There are darks forces and vampires.


Don’t worry, these vampires are not of the sparkly variety known for wooing expressionless young girls.  These vampires are dark, nasty and cunning.  That is the way vampires are meant to be and they  set their sights on Julia.

The Emerald Talisman is a novel with a deep backstory, compelling characters and an interesting twist on the paranormal world.    Labeling the book as Y.A. may be misleading, because I went into the read expecting one thing and got something more.  This is a really good book.

So, Chuck Norris may revoke, or suspend my man-card, but in a Katy Perry channeling moment, I read a Y.A. book and I liked it.


If you haven’t checked out the two series authored by Brenda Pandos, you should.  I will.

Brenda and I may be doing a joint book signing event in the next few weeks.  The cross-genre promotion will be fun.  The theme could be Mermaids and Mayhem, or Vampires and Vice.  Could be a blast.


  1. I took a writing for child and youth class this past spring and was surprised at how much fun I had. I decided to explore it further and made several trips to my local library, reading several armfuls of books for various age groups. I was astounded by the quality of some that had the YA label (and the fact that some really held my interest). I do agree that the YA novels tend to be pigeon-holed and can be unfairly judged. Maybe more authors (and would be authors) should give a few quality YA’s a read so they can support their fellow writers. Thanks for another great post. PS: Chuck Norris should give you your man-card back.

    1. Labels of all sorts give an impression of what’s to be expected, be it books, art, or people. In this case, a good story might go unnoticed if judged by the label. By the way, I love the pencil drawings on your website, especially the little squirrel peeking around the tree. Very talented artist!

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