Chameleon by Zoe Kalo – Review by Roxsanne Lesieur.
Chameleon by Zoe Kalo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Paloma is a seventeen year old girl who has recently lost her father, so in an attempt to contact him she conducted a seance in school, but she really underestimated the effect it would have on the rest of the school’s population, fear and rumours of an indiscretion with a boy in a confessional spread like wildfire and resulted in her expulsion. However, the convent she is now approaching with her mother, step father and little sister looks more like a prison, a prison she only has to stay in for seven months, a prison ruled by nuns in black habits and full of orphans and less than perfect school children. As she enters through the front door, Paloma cannot but admire the building itself, but the nuns are not what she would have expected, or at least the one who answers the door isn’t. After she watches one girl get told off for lying and have her ear twisted as a punishment, they are interrupted by another nun, but this time, one in a whilte habit, Madre Superiore, the headmistress of the establishment and the one who takes the family to her office to go over the final details and oversee their goodbyes.
As the same nun from earlier escorts Paloma to her dormitory, she points out where the necessary places she will need to know about are, the dining room, the library, the dormitories and the floor where the nuns sleep and which is off limits to students and as they enter the dormitories, Paloma is introduced to one of the students she will be sharing the dormitory with called Rubia. Rubia helps Paloma to settle in and goes through the rules with her again while Paloma unpacks, but for some reason, she can’t put her finger on it, Rubia seems off, not rude or impolite, but indescifrable for some reason and that unsettles Paloma a little. Paloma also finds out that Rubia will be the one who will be helping her to catch up on the lessons she has missed between schools, to which Paloma reluctantly agrees, it is while she is unpacking that Paloma hears the waterfall through the open windows and has to stop herself from panicking and having flashbacks, but she manages and Rubia carries on with the tour of the convent.
As they talk more about the different nuns and a little about Rubia’s past, Paloma changes into her uniform and they head down for dinner, on their way Rubia introduces her to three other girls who are also in the same dormitory, Adelite who is the one who was being punished for lying earlier, who is very quiet and seems to always be far away in her own mind, Silvy, a girl with cat like eyes and delusions of grandeur with regards to her heritage and personality, but who is also always seeking attention and finally Maria, a bigger girl with a friendly smile and tortoiseshell glasses who seems to be close with Adelita and helps to keep her mind on what she is doing at the time. Each of the girls has a past and slowly as time progresses Paloma learns of them, but she also learns that they are nearly all interested in the seance and want to take part in one, all apart from Maria who is very dubious of the whole thing, however, they all agree to hold one, however, their reasons are slightly different for each of them and what they discover during the seance leads to a whole host of new questions and a mystery to solve.
A few days later, accidents start to happen and Paloma starts to believe that she is seeing and hearing things in the halls of the convent and in the graveyard outside, however when the accidents become fatal, Paloma risks everything to try and unravel the mystery, however, is it all in her head, or is there really a malevolent presence in the convent? Will she be able to solve the mystery or will there be nobody left to save? This is a thrilling and yet disturbing mystery which will keep you guessing right until the end while simultaneously leaving you wondering if it is all in Paloma’s imagination and not real at all.
Reviewed by @roxsannel
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