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.
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.
My thoughts: I don’t really know how to explain this genre bending book. It is very, very good. It weaves several disparate plots together in a clever and highly enjoyable way. It made my head itchy, in a good way, as detectives uncover a sinister secret life in the house of a retired school teacher and her professor husband. They’re plunged into arcane knowledge and a deep held belief in satanism, witchcraft and magic. A belief and practices that go back centuries, that unite the ancient and modern and that have been kept secret and hidden.
The three women – Lucienne, Lina and Maxine are each learning about these things, in very different times and contexts, attracted or repulsed by the things they see. Their stories are different, but much connects them.
I think this is definitely a book you need to read to understand, and then read again and again in case you missed something. It’s gripping and compelling and a little shocking. And, as I said, very, very good.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own