The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson
Translated by David Warriner
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…
Firstly, I have really enjoyed all of Johana Gustawsson’s novels to-date and I am not at all sure how to begin with my review. Could this be Johana’s best yet? The Bleeding (Orenda Books) and superbly translated as ever by David Warriner is not out until 15 September so just a few more days to wait. The first thing that strikes you is the fabulous cover design. But the storyline is just a stunning complex novel that will fit into the horror come gothic thriller. Now I don’t do horror I stopped reading those back in the 1980’s but don’t be put off by this. This will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat all the way through.
Now here is a novel not just set-in two-time setting but three. It is following the story of three women one for each time setting. The time settings are 1899, 1949 and 2002, and the women are Lucienne, Lina, and Maxine. All the women’s stories are linked and none of their stories are good. Shocking in fact and here is the basis of crux of the storyline. Be prepared for a quite a reading journey that only Johan Gustawsson can take you on.
Maxine Grant is a detective and is grieving the loss of her husband who died suddenly and now she must pull all of her own resources together as she has two young children to care for, but she must now get back to work and there is a murder to solve. But what has Pauline the wife of victim got to do with the case? But what is to follow will take Maxine back in time to another tragedy and then to 1949. But how and what does this have to do with the current case that Maxine Grant is now trying to solve. There is something so incredibly spellbinding in the way the Johan has put together a who cast for The Bleeding and the setting is brilliant as is the way she pulls the whole storyline together.
Do not be put off by the multiple time settings as I found the story was a joy to follow at times there are hints of the dark, gothic, and creepy that find its way into the novel but that just adds to the suspense. I found the storyline to be chilling but outstanding and one of my books of 2022. Not to be missed.
My thanks to Karen Sullivan for the review Copy of The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson. Published on 15 September 2022 and is now available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org
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