Before I go to bed, I look under my bed with fear. I fear the dark, the storms, the sea, the unknown and my own darkness.

— Paula Maxa


PARIS, 1933.

 Written as a lost volume from her celebrated diaries, ANAÏS NIN AT THE GRAND GUIGNOL follows the iconic feminist author into an erotic and twilit realm of dark fantasy and sexual obsession, a world of forbidden desire and deadly consequence from which she might never fully return.

In the aftermath of her love triangle with novelist HENRY MILLER and his dancer wife June, thirty-year-old ANAÏS NIN is left reeling. Stifled by her bourgeois marriage, she retreats into the midnight world of the GRAND GUIGNOL, the legendary theatre of horror and fear whose devoted patrons thrill at the macabre spectacles depicted on the black box stage. It is there that she falls under the spell of the actress PAULA MAXA, known as THE MOST MURDERED WOMAN OF ALL TIME, who awakens Anaïs to a secret realm of bewitchment and vice, of pleasure and pain.

Only Maxa already belongs to MONSIEUR GUILLARD, the lustful night creature that haunts the dark streets of Pigalle. As the demon lover's insatiable hunger grows stronger by the hour, Anaïs finds herself trapped in a far more dangerous triangle, a cat-and-mouse game with Maxa's very soul as the ultimate prize.


"Levy’s disquieting erotic imagery masterfully evokes Nin’s original prose. This sensual confection will enthrall readers looking for an intimate, disturbing thrill."

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Readers looking for a concentrated cocktail of Années folles splendor will find that this short erotic novel quenches their thirst. A finely crafted, Anaïs Nin–centered fantasy with unexpected depths.”

Kirkus Reviews

"Robert Levy gives us the best seat in the house for the only show that matters, the dark delirious battle of sex and death, in Anaïs Nin at the Grand Guignol. Applause!"

— Kathe Koja, author of Cipher and the Under the Poppy trilogy

“The writing is beautiful, from the descriptions of place, to the sex, to the macabre world of the bizarre theatre. A mysterious, whirling fantasy.”

— Jeffrey Ford, author of A Natural History of Hell and Ahab's Return

“Lush, erotic horror, as decadent and chilling as an overgrown garden of decaying roses. Robert Levy has created a mesmerizing tale of desire and death, just as Anaïs Nin would have written.”

— Livia Llewellyn, author of Furnace and Engines of Desire

“Robert Levy's excellent novella incorporates figures drawn from literary and theatrical history, placing them in a vividly realized Paris in a story that races to a climax worthy of the Grand Guignol itself. Highly, highly recommended.”

— John Langan, author of Sefira and Other Betrayals and The Fisherman