The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson

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… FIRST in a bewitching new series

‘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


Three women
Three eras
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…

I have always loved Johana’s books (her Roy and Castells series is absolutely brilliant and well worth a read if you haven’t already discovered it) and so The Bleeding was one of my most anticipated books of the year especially after reading a sampler at this years Harrogate Crime Writers Festival. But nothing could have prepared me for how much The Bleeding would become a complete obsession whilst I was reading it-nothing got done around me as I lost a whole afternoon immersed in the lives of three incredibly fascinating women…

Anyone who’s read this authors books before knows how she writes dark and cleverly complex storylines that, although taking part in different times in history, ultimately come together to form a perfectly complete puzzle. It’s never obvious how these stories are connected (well, not for me anyway and I’m usually very good at spotting and connecting the clues!) until the delivery of a shocking denouement but The Bleeding took this to such an extreme that it absolutely blew me away! Honestly, I spent the last few pages of this book with my mouth wide open in shock at how I had completely overlooked what the trail of breadcrumbs had been leading up to! I was overwhelmed, I was emotional and I knew that what I had just finished was now THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ THIS YEAR!!!!

Honestly, I don’t even want to tell you anymore about the plot as I would hate to spoil it for any future readers (and please believe me when I say that you NEED to read this book!) but I will say that you will meet unforgettable characters in The Bleeding, some you will love and some you will hate, but you will understand every single one of them. And this is because Johana manages to cleverly craft their emotional intelligence with such confidence that we become engaged very quickly in their lives. I related to these women and the darkness that surrounded them in a way I really wasn’t expecting as the author wove her tapestry of the tragedy of sisterhood and the devastation of motherhood that makes The Bleeding a must read.

It was only whilst writing up this review that I realised that The Bleeding is the first in a new series for Johana Gustawsson and this made me very happy indeed! The Bleeding is a compelling idea beautifully crafted and written with a depth of understanding that will take your breath away. Simply perfect in every single way…

The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson was published by Orenda on 15th September 2022. My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour. For other reviews and opinions please follow the other bloggers on the tour.

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.
Follow David on Twitter @givemeawave and on his website


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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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