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, Québec. 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…
Queen of French Noir, Johana Gustawsson returns with a spell-binding, dazzlingly dark gothic thriller that swings from Belle Époque France to 21st-century Quebec, with an extraordinary mystery at its heart…
For fans of Laura Purcell, Elizabeth Macneal, Bridget Collins, Anna Mazzola, Ambrose Parry and Laura Shepherd-Robinson
I was so excited to receive this book for two reasons: the first being that I absolutely adored Block 46 and Keeper – and I could not wait to experience Johana’s writing in a more gothic style which could not be more perfect for my autumn break in Argyll. I adore her series featuring Emily Roy and Alexis Castells and was absolutely blown away by this new direction in her writing. Don’t you just love it when writers you adore start a whole new series? And when the series is as good as this, it is absolutely worth blocking out some uninterrupted time and absolutely immersing yourself in this wonderfully-realised fictional world.
The other reason that I was so excited to read The Bleeding is that for as long as I can remember, I’ve absolutely loved books that move between different times, places and settings. From 1899 to 1949 and finally to 2002, you get to follow Maxine’s journey into the dark heart of this story and uncover the way tht all three intertwined timelines unite in an unforgettable and heart-stopping read. When I heard that Johana’s new book was a gothic tale, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and I can tell you that I read it straight through without stopping. Even though I am on holiday right now in my new home in Argyll, The Bleeding transported me to these very different times and places and I got absolutely lost in its twisty depths…
Johana Gustawsson has a unique talent for carrying her readers with her on her exploration of the human psyche and this carries on into the gothic masterpiece that is The Bleeding. Whether you are in Paris or Quebec and whether you are immersed in the twenty-first century or transported back to the beauty and dangers of the Belle Epoque, she doesn’t shy away from shocking and disturbing the reader and her books are definitely not for the faint-hearted. Where other writers might hint or allude, Johana brings her stories brilliantly to life, so vividly that you just won’t be able to look away.
Once more, in trademark Gustawson style, we have three very different narratives going on simultaneously, which allows us to see the world from three very different perspectives – we have the contrast between the past and the present as well as the switching of locations, which makes for an intriguing read that really keeps the pace up and makes sure that the reader is permanently on their toes, turning the pages as we are transported across locations and timelines. Despite the fact that these three women’s lives appear very different on the surface, as you read you’ll become aware of the way they connect and intersect and your admiration for the skill with which their stories interleave with one another will increase tenfold.
I absolutely loved The Bleeding. I am committed to no spoilers, so this was a really difficult task as I really want you to have the same experience as I did whilst lost in this fabulous and immersive read. Whether you get caught up in the story of Lucienne, Lina or Maxine, I’m sure you will agree that the three of them are hiding as much as they are giving away and the way that they chooose to shape their narratives will really keep you on your toes. The international flavour of Gustawson’s novels is something that I’ve really grown to love and I can’t wait to see where she gors next with her writing. This is not a read for the faint of heart: it doesn’t skim over the way that darkness can visibly manifest itself and be unleashed where you are least expecting it. Gustawson is skilled at making the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and literally catch your breath as you re-read in horror what you’ve just been exposed to – and I can’t get enough of her writing. You’ll maybe be like me and read the ending over again once you’ve finished – it really is that good. But why don’t you buy yourself a copy and see for yourself…
The Bleeding is a bit like my very favourite artisan gins: full of diverse ingredients, expertly blended into an addictive, complex, and delightfully sophisticated treat. I’m an addict and I am really looking forward to seeing where she takes us next. If for some reason, you’ve not read any of her other novels why not? If you like dark fiction, fabulous characterisation and a unique take on the way that past evils can spill into the present day then you’ll be an absolute convert.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for the invitation – yet another wonderful writer that I might never have discovered if I hadn’t started blogging. I love reading such an eclectic range of books on my blogging adventures and can’t wait to tell you about the next few reads on my horizon…
Praise for The Bleeding
‘Intriguingly dark and vivid, and so cleverly told through three different time frames’ Essie Fox
‘A wonderfully dark, intricately woven historical thriller spanning three generations … it will have you hooked from the very first page’ B A Paris
‘This novel is a whirlpool that draws you irresistibly into levels of darkness so much deeper than you can possibly be ready for’ Chris Brookmyre
Writer on the Shelf
|Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015#TeamOrenda have produced a series of amazing blog posts about this novel and if you haven’t read them already then you’re in for a treat. Check out the #BlogTour poster to see who else is creating the #FrenchNoir buzz around Keeper|