Book Review: The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson

When The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson appeared on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf courtesy of Random Things Tours, there was a audible gasp of awe at the cover. With it’s distinctive red gothic imagery on a black background, it lured both the witches in. With an intriguing blurb linking a crime thriller with the occult, both wanted to read it first. By the toss of the coin, Amber won.

Scroll down to see their honest and unbiased review.

Book Review: The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson

Book cover for The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson
The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson

Title: The Bleeding

Author: Johana Gustawsson

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Horror, Gothic thriller

Release Date: 15th September 2022

Blurb

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.

Thoughts from the Emporium

The Bleeding is deliciously dark and atmospheric, and blends the forensic police procedural timeline of Maxine, with the historical threads of Lina and Lucienne effortlessly.

From the first chapter, Amber and Willow were hooked. Despite the initial discovery of a mummified hand giving them an indication of where the story would go, the writing style, and the shocking twists in each thread kept them turning the page.

Willow felt the heartache of Lucienne’s grief and the mystery of her daughters’ deaths encouraged her forward while Amber related hard to Lina’s experiences at school. She could understand Lina’s emotions and the need for a confidante and mentor. With the atmospheric backdrop of an old asylum, the tension increased when the timeline unfolded with dark magic twists. It was a book to read into the early hours of the morning and neither guessed the ending.

Amber raved about this book and has recommended it to her friends but while Willow galloped through it with enthusiasm, a couple of historical niggles in Lucienne’s line prevented her from giving it full five stars.

Despite their differences, both agreed it’s an ideal creepy and unnerving read for these darker nights in the run up to Halloween. With its genre crossover, it would appeal to those who love crime novels as well as those who enjoy horror and gothic thrillers

Author Biography


 black and white photo of Johana Gustawsson
Johana Gustawsson

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 28 countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. The Bleeding – number one bestseller in France and the first in a new series – will be published in 2022. Johana
lives on the west coast of Sweden with her Swedish husband and their three sons.

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