Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from The Bleeding! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is that The Bleeding just blew me away and you should add it to your wish or shopping list right this minute.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
Queen of French Noir, Johana Gustawsson returns with the first in a startling new series – a dark, horrifying, powerful historical thriller with an extraordinary mystery at its heart and three women pushed so far beyond breaking point, they have only one way out…
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…
Ready to dip your toe in The Bleeding? Okay, here we go!
I knew I was playing with fire. But if I had kept turning the other cheek, as that imbecile Father Dion suggested at confession, those two witches would have kept getting nastier. I had to spend the whole lunch hour kneeling on sacks of rice, but honestly it was worth every grain that dug into my skin.
But now, of course, I won’t be laughing so much.
‘For God’s sake!’ I cry, trying to extricate my boots from another drift of snow.
What was I thinking, taking a shortcut through the woods? I’m sinking up to my knees. My toes are frozen and I’m shivering to the tip of my hat. I passed that garden house thing a while back. I can’t be far away now.
Mother is right: sometimes I can’t see further than the end of my nose, which is a block of ice right now.
When she was called in to see Mrs Morin, Mother went mad. And didn’t I know it. She flew into her familiar refrain: my father must be seething with rage up there, seeing his only daughter behave that way. I’m not showing myself to be worthy of him, his legacy, or the hero he was. Now and then, I hear different things about my father, but that’s another story. Mother decided that from now on, after school, I shall be going to meet her at her work. The only thing is, she works at the madhouse. ‘Your mum cleans up crazy people’s crap,’ the witches tease, the ignorant bitches.
At last, I can see the side of the grand old building. The former manor house of the Lelanger family, I’m told. What an idea, to turn it into an asylum for degenerates. ‘A rest home,’ Mother would correct me. A forced-rest home, if you ask me, because they’re not exactly right in the head anymore.
I arrive on the driveway, walk up the steps and realise I can’t feel my toes.
A bearded man whose belly is threatening to burst through his uniform opens the gate for me. His lips are buried beneath an avalanche of black hair. He’s not from around here, otherwise I’d know who he was. Lac-Clarence is the kind of place where we all know each other, and everything about everyone.
‘You’re Lisette’s girl, are you?’ he asks me, his face rigid, like a ventriloquist’s.
I nod, turning my tongue seven times inside my mouth to resist the urge to tell him it would have been smarter just to ask my name. But then, in a madhouse I suppose they have to keep closer tabs on people going out, not coming in.
‘Bloody hell. What have you gone and done now?’ Mother’s voice is lecturing me before I’ve even laid eyes on her. I haven’t even had the chance to unbutton my overcoat. She’s standing at the turn of the corridor.
‘Just look at your legs, you’re soaked through. Lina, I don’t know how you do it. How do you manage to always make a hash of everything? Come on, follow me. And take off those boots and socks, will you? I’ll dry them for you, otherwise you’ll catch your death.’
‘Where are we going?’
‘I’m going to set you up in the rest area so you can do your homework.’ A rest area in a rest home. I lower my eyes and bite my lip so I won’t laugh out loud. Mother is a master of surprising me at the precise moment I have sinned.
Ready for more? The Bleeding is out on 15 September in hardcover (note the gorgeous spredges on the tour banner!) and digital formats, with the paperback to follow next year. Preorder directly from Orenda Books here.