Word count: 55,000
Release date: February 2017
An isolated convent, a supernatural presence, a dark secret…
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. When, yet again, Paloma holds a séance in the hope of contacting her father, she awakens an entity that has been dormant for years. And then, 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?
I’m going to start by saying that although I think the cover of this book is gorgeous, it is also highly misleading. This story takes place in a convent, and is about schoolgirls and nuns, so the strapless, corseted dress has nothing to do with the contents of the book, and suggested to me something far more romantic or fanciful. Having said that, once I got into the story, I really enjoyed it.
Paloma is sent to the isolated convent school after she is expelled from her last place for holding a séance. All she wanted to do was to talk to her dead father. She certainly doesn’t expect to be asked by her new friends to provide a repeat performance, or to have to deal with consequences that spiral dangerously out of control.
This is a dark psychological thriller with just a hint of the paranormal, revolving around a group of schoolgirls in a rather strict convent school with a mix of both friendly and sadistic nuns, and a slowly uncovered history of gruesome events and possible murders. I didn’t pick up until way too far through the book that this takes place in 1973 – I feel more period details could have been included to solidify the time setting, as I became somewhat confused by date references to earlier events.
The group of girls and their interactions are fascinating, and the psychology deftly handled. The uneasy atmosphere is masterfully evoked by the excellent word and phrase choices of the author. Mysteries, misdirection and fabulous pacing kept me hooked the whole way through, and my only disappointment was that the end of the denouement was rather abrupt – more like the end of a short story than a novel. Don’t get me wrong, the revelations are both shocking and satisfying, I just wish it hadn’t left me unsure if Paloma was going to survive long enough to tell the tale to the authorities.
Recommended for those who like to delve into the dark side of psychology, along with a twist of ghostly events.