I’m delighted to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for stunning historical gothic thriller The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson. Thank you to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this fantastic book.
About the book:
One extraordinary mystery…
1899, Belle Époque Paris. Lucienne’s two daughters are believed dead when her mansion burns to the ground, but she is certain that her girls are still alive and embarks on a journey into the depths of the spiritualist community to find them.
1949, Post-War Québec. Teenager Lina’s father has died in the French Resistance, and as she struggles to fit in at school, her mother introduces her to an elderly woman at the asylum where she works, changing Lina’s life in the darkest way imaginable.
2002, Quebec. A former schoolteacher is accused of brutally stabbing her husband – a famous university professor – to death. Detective Maxine Grant, who has recently lost her own husband and is parenting a teenager and a new baby single-handedly, takes on the investigation.
Under enormous personal pressure, Maxine makes a series of macabre discoveries that link directly to historical cases involving black magic and murder, secret societies and spiritism … and women at breaking point, who will stop at nothing to protect the ones they love…
About the author:
Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series, including Block 46, Keeper and Blood Song, has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. The Bleeding – a number one bestseller in France and the first in a new series – will be published in 2022. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons.
Follow Johana on Twitter @JoGustawsson
David Warner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a Modern Languages degree he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.
The Bleeding by critically acclaimed French author Johana Gustawsson is the first book in a spellbinding new historical gothic thriller series. Superbly translated by David Warriner, the story is told from the perspective of three women in three different timelines: Maxine in 2002, Lina in 1949 and Lucienne in 1899.
In 2002 Quebec we are introduced to Lieutenant Maxine Grant as she is called to the scene of an horrific murder. Maxine’s former schoolteacher has been found sitting on the porch of her house in a catatonic state, while the brutally slain body of her husband lies inside. All evidence points to Pauline being the murderer. But why would she murder Philippe, the husband she appeared to adore? And who exactly do the seven well preserved hands found under glass domes in the Caron’s residence belong to?
We then move back to 1949 where we meet Lina who is being badly bullied at school. After an incident involving another pupil, Lina’s mother insists that when she finishes school each day she must go to the rest home where she works. There Lina meets an elderly resident who takes her under her wing, the two becoming close as the old lady teaches her how to stand up for herself against the bullies.
Finally we go back to Paris in 1899 and Lucienne, whose young daughters are presumed dead after an horrific house fire. But Lucienne believes her children are still alive and, out of desperation, joins forces with Violette du Courtiere, who leads her down a path of dark magic and the occult.
What follows is a superbly written, multi genre story, that’s part police procedural and part historical fiction, with a sprinkling of the supernatural thrown in to give the story a deliciously dark gothic feel that I loved. With strong female characters, intertwined timelines and the kind of twists and turns that will keep you guessing, The Bleeding is an intriguing, suspense filled story that kept me reading long into the night.
I love books that go backwards and forwards in time and Johana Gustawsson does so with ease, taking us from 2002 Quebec right back to Paris in 1899. The time periods are brought vividly to life as the connections between the three women are slowly and shockingly revealed, leading to a denouement that I can honestly say I did not see coming.
I liked all three women, but it was Maxine who got under my skin the most. Still grieving the recent loss of her husband and trying to strike a balance between looking after a young family and doing the job that she loves, her grief and frustration are palpable as the investigation into the murder continues.
A brilliantly written gothic thriller that will stay with me, The Bleeding is an outstanding read that delves into themes of spiritualism and black magic at the same time as delivering an intense and suspense filled crime thriller. With a strong cast of supporting characters and a superbly plotted storyline, Johana Gustawsson has written yet another outstanding addition to the French Noir genre and I can’t wait to see where she takes this series next.
The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson is available to buy now:
Check out what these other lovely bloggers have to say about this fantastic book: