Book review: South African lesbian and childhood bestie fight life-threatening conspiracy, fall in love

The Chameleon’s Tale by Andrea Bramhall is an incredible book that falls into that treasured category of “fiction that could have starred straight people, but didn’t.” Like The Red Files, this is a tale of two strong women falling in love while unraveling a government-corporate conspiracy, this one taking place in South Africa and featuring an interracial romance. Them both being women adds depth, not direction, to the story.

Imogene, banished from home by a father desperate to protect her from the violence that killed her mother, returns upon his death to confront a blossoming scandal. What she finds instead is the childhood best friend who never forgot her. Amahle has grown up to become an incredibly brave government official who some people even consider for the next president, an out lesbian working for public HIV treatment and against corrective rape. Amahle has uncovered a massive wrong that some would kill to conceal, and she and Imogene are basically racing against the clock to get to the bottom of it before they’re silenced.

Warning for readers that Amahle has flashbacks to her ex-partner’s rape, so that might be triggering, as also might be the extreme violence perpetrated by the book’s villains on some of the male characters. I do want to give the author props for having the ex-partner have left her rather than be killed in the attack; I think that was a good decision rather than having the partner be fridged.

The book has a f/f happy ending but slight warning that the ending couple of paragraphs hints at possible adventures to come — the author has confirmed that she’s willing to revisit Imogene and Amahle if inspiration hits. That’s all that means, so I think that whatever [spoiler villain] wants to throw at them, they’ve more than proved they can handle it.

About Shira

Queer Jewish feminist author
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