#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2022
And here we are. My #bookvent Book of the Year for 2022. A hotly fought contest but in the end there could be only one winer and I think, if I am being honest, from the moment I started reading this book, I knew this would be the one. I have loved the authors other books, loved the darkness and the mystery that envelops every chapter, but there is just something so very delicious about this particular read, the gothic edge, the darkness at its heart, that really set if apart for me. Three women, three very different times, one absolutely brilliant translation, my Book of the Year is …
The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson
Trns David Warriner
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
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…
Congratulations Johana Gustawsson. The Bleeding really is a masterpiece. I loved it. And congratulations to David Warriner too, whose brilliant translations have helped Orenda Books secure the top two spots in my books of the year countdown.
The Bleeding really is a thing of beauty. not just the hardback (although that is stunning) but what lies between the covers. A dark, gothic tale spanning three generations, and taking readers from Belle Époque to Quebec at two very different times in post-war history, this book is haunting, lyrical story that captured my imagination from the very first page., Infused with mystery and tension, brilliant characters and a thick atmosphere that enshrouds you and will not let you go even once the last page is turned. Murder, loss, and personal tragedy inform the story, one which is driven by family and fear and which takes you on a truly unforgettable ride. It is a case of less is more when talking about the plot, but somehow Johana Gustawsson weaves a truly complex tale, but pulls it together effortlessly with a conclusion which is both inevitable and yet shocking. So many times I thought I had worked out what was happening, and sometimes there is that sense of smugness that comes from having your suspicions confirmed. That’s just a false play by the author, something to lull you into a false sense of security so that you are just relaxed enough that when she drops that ending on you, the impact will leave you dazed and reeling. I love how she is able to move us between past and present so effortlessly, drawing an authenticity to the historical pieces, whilst maintaining a sense of tragic inevitability about the modern set scenes too. An unspoken sense of the darkness deep within. There are elements of the occult woven throughout the book, and strong female characters who, between them and their various fates, seek to highlight the various ways in which women have been oppressed, and underestimated, for far, far too long.
Compelling, authentic, dark and full of perfectly pitched twists and revelations, I adored it. Most definitely recommended.
You can read my full review right here.
Happy #bookvent reading all
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