I am honoured to be taking part in the blog tour for Blood Song, the third in the Roy and Castells series by Johana Gustawsson. Thanks to the author and publisher for the advanced review copy and to Anne of RandomThingsTours for inviting me to take part.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her. Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre. Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realize that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule. Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.
I don’t actually think I have any words that could do this book justice. The third in the Roy and Castells series, it is an exquisite but haunting blend of past and present taking the reader on a heart-breaking journey between Sweden, France and Spain.
Right from the beginning it packs an emotional punch and then some. Johana Gustawsson drew me into the pages and created an emotional tension that had me in its clutches throughout.
Switching effortlessly between the past and present Johana Gustawsson transports her readers into a dark and brutal world. The slaughter of an eminent Swedish family is set alongside the brutalities of the Spanish Civil War. I have to confess my knowledge of Spanish history is vague but this took nothing away from my experience. There is also a brief overview of the history prior to the book.
The author writes with such intensity that she paints a picture that will forever be captured in your heart and in your mind. So many emotions are provoked reading this book and it’s almost impossible to describe the plot, other than by reading the book’s blurb. Child abuse, abduction and fertility clinics are all explored and laid bare for the reader to digest. It was such a tormenting read, I couldn’t put it down. I had to read it in one day. It would have felt so very wrong to put this story aside once I began.
In the authors notes she tells is that she had somewhat sanitised the brutality of the Spanish Civil War to spare the reader. However even with this sanitisation the brutality is so raw and so authentic that is impossible to read and not to be moved. I’m glad that Johanna has written this story, these are acts of brutality that need to be told.
She effortlessly marries up each strand of the storyline producing a beautiful but haunting tale that has its roots firmly embedded in the truth. Read this book please but set yourself aside a day because it deserves to be read and absorbed in just one siting.
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About the author
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 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. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to
write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.