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FIVE GIRLS. AN ISOLATED CONVENT. A SUPERNATURAL PRESENCE. A DARK SECRET.
SHORTLISTED for the 2017 Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult Fiction!
I can’t believe it has come to this. The way things have blown out of proportion. I only wanted to contact my dead father. Ask his forgiveness.
Seven months isn’t that long, is it?
I’ll go through the motions, no need to make friends that I’ll never see again. When you get close to people, you end up getting hurt.
Puerto Rico, 1973
17-year-old Paloma only wanted to hold a séance to contact her dead father. She never thought she would be kicked out of school and end up in an isolated convent. Now, all she wants is to be left alone. But slowly, she develops a bond with a group of girls: kind-hearted Maria, insolent Silvy, pathological liar Adelita, and their charismatic leader Rubia.
At night, the waterfall’s dark music haunts her dreams of drowning…
When Paloma holds another séance, she accidentally awakens an entity that has been dormant for years. The body count begins. Someone doesn’t want the secret out…
Are the ghost and Paloma’s suspicions real—or only part of her growing paranoia and delusions?
If you love the vibes in “The Orphanage,” “The Craft” and “Pretty Little Liars,” you’ll enjoy this mess-with-your-head, YA supernatural/psychological thriller!
A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery…
She’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. She holds a BA in Creative Writing and an MA in Comparative Literature. She lives in Belgium with her husband and two evil cats.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Silver Dagger Book Tours and Zoe Kalo for this free copy.
Oh my gosh. This book got so freaking creepy and honestly I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to sleep at night after reading this. I’m so glad that I got to read this one, and I thought it was super cool that Zalo ended up having Puerto Rico as her setting for this novel.
While I personally haven’t been sentenced to a Catholic convent isolated and away from my family but my mom did go to Catholic school all her life. She remembers how strict the nuns were when she was there, and while maybe they weren’t as bad as what Paloma and the other girls experienced, it wasn’t a walk in the park either. By the way, why is that even a terminology? I hate parks. Just kidding, no I don’t. But either way, it wasn’t something that always had a good memory for her, so I could only imagine what Paloma went through, if I had gone through it.
Then it’s not just that, but the supernatural aspect of it as well? All the deaths because of this ancient entity waking up after another seance attempt from Paloma at the convent. It makes me wonder just how many ghosts and spirits pay attention to those that are trying to reach the other side, and how many of them actually make it through without detection. How many of them come over with good intentions, or are truly out to finish their evil unfinished business?
And why do ghosts get a bad rep anyway? Not all of them are bad, right? Casper!
Okay rant over. That was weird, sorry.
I totally felt for Paloma though. She just wanted to talk to her dad again, one last time. If there was a way that I could talk to my grandpa after him being gone for almost 17 years, there’s no way that I would just let that opportunity go by. It may not be “damn the consequences” or anything like that, but I would do whatever I could to see him again. To talk to him again. To say that I hope he’s proud of me, and that I’m doing my best.
So yeah, I get why she did it. I don’t even fault her for it. It just sucks that there was such a terrible aftermath to her trying to reach her dad, and of course she probably thinks it’s all her fault. Well, you’re just going to have to read it to find out.
(1) What was your inspiration for Chameleon?
Like Paloma, I was partly educated in a convent school run by Catholic nuns. The convent was also an orphanage for girls, and actually some of the girls—Ramona and Sylvy—were based on real people. Adelita and Rubia were pure creations of my imagination. I did attempt to do a séance in one of the classrooms once, an act that made me end up in Madre Superiora’s office…but I didn’t get kicked out…nor experienced a ghost.
(2) Some of the scenes in the book depict the nuns in a very negative way. Can you comment on that?
Some of the nuns are nice, others…not so nice. That’s just the way it was. Except for Madre Superiora, all of the nuns in my book are based on real nuns. Madre Estela, Madre Julia, Madre Margarita were all real. Yes, Madre Julia with her giant wooden spoon, real. It may seem hard to believe, and certainly it would be tough to believe nuns can behave like that nowadays. But remember the story takes place in 1970s Puerto Rico. Catholic nuns were very strict back then, their disciplining methods cruel, but this was considered normal.
(3) How long did it take you to complete the book?
On and off, about two years. But the story and characters simmered in my mind for years before then.
(4) Did you have to do a lot of research?
I did a tremendous amount of research on psychopaths and psychopathy, and a fair amount on natural drugs found in tropical forests, though I ended up using only a tiny fraction of the material. I also consulted a police officer for the parts about police procedural and interrogation.
(5) You like to use mimic writing, don’t you?
Yes, I do! I used it in Daughter of the Sun when the protagonist was drugged, and also in this book in the climax with Paloma. The writing becomes erratic and stream of consciousness because it reflects and mimics the altered mind of the character. No commas, no punctuation, one run-on sentence after another. I love using this literary technique but sometimes it can be confusing for the reader, so trying to find a balance can be very challenging.
(6) Did you listen to any particular kind of music while working on the book?
I sure did! I can get quite obsessed about that, listening to the same compositions again and again. This was my music list for Chameleon… all of them haunting, mysterious and dark!
- Beethoven’s Figlio Perduto: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wuo6PUeyHmA (Performed by Sarah Brightman)
- Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiMcXzfm9Mg
- Agnes Obel’s Riverside: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjncyiuwwXQ
- Revenge Series soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOgHd_iM5ok
- Interview with the Vampire soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6aPxaCpP78