In Zdrok’s debut, a young woman with mysterious powers seeks to unmask a vicious killer terrorizing 19th-century Paris.
Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes about Paris’ unclaimed dead bodies that are on display for public viewing for her column at Le Petit Journal: The more detailed her descriptions, the better. When she sees the body of a young girl who has been brutally slashed, she’s horrified. Placing her hand against the glass barrier, she has a terrifying vision of what seems to be the actual murder. The killer, dubbed “the Dark Artist,” isn’t finished, and the viciousness of the murders grows. Nathalie is intrigued to find out that her Aunt Brigitte, who is in an asylum for acting on her own visions, was a patient of an infamous doctor who offered supernatural powers through blood transfusions. Craving normalcy, Nathalie initially rejects her own powers, but when the Dark Artist slaughters someone very close to her, she resolves to put a stop to his reign of terror. Zdrok explores the universal fascination with death, set among the darker corners of 1887 Paris, and the very idea of the morgue viewings (to which parents brought their children) is chilling. All characters are assumed white. Grisly, plot driven—and very creepy.
Fans of historical thrillers that invoke the enduring spirit of Jack the Ripper will have fun, and Zdrok leaves things open for a sequel. (recommended reading) (Paranormal historical thriller. 15-18)