For fans of Gillian Flynn, Scott Smith, and Daniel Woodrell comes a gripping, suspenseful novel about two mysterious disappearances a generation apart.
The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains. Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane's mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child. Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see. Lucy's family has deep roots in the Ozarks, part of a community that is fiercely protective of its own. Yet despite her close ties to the land, and despite her family's influence, Lucy - darkly beautiful as her mother was - is always thought of by those around her as her mother's daughter. When Cheri disappears, Lucy is haunted by the two lost girls - the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't save - and sets out with the help of a local boy, Daniel, to uncover the mystery behind Cheri's death.
What Lucy discovers is a secret that pervades the secluded Missouri hills, and beyond that horrific revelation is a more personal one concerning what happened to her mother more than a decade earlier.
The Weight of Blood is an urgent look at the dark side of a bucolic landscape beyond the arm of the law, where a person can easily disappear without a trace. Laura McHugh proves herself a masterly storyteller who has created a harsh and tangled terrain as alive and unforgettable as the characters who inhabit it. Her mesmerizing debut is a compelling exploration of the meaning of family: the sacrifices we make, the secrets we keep, and the lengths to which we will go to protect the ones we love.
©2014 Laura McHugh (P)2014 Random House Audio
"In this clever, multilayered debut, McHugh deftly explores the past of an Ozark Mountain family… with plenty to hide and the ruthlessness to keep their secrets hidden…. This is an outstanding first novel, replete with suspense, crisp dialogue, and vivid Ozarks color and atmosphere." (Publishers Weekly)
"Debut novelist McHugh comes out swinging with this gripping tale set in the Ozarks of Missouri…. Her prose will not only keep readers turning the pages but also paints a real and believable portrait of the connections, alliances, and sacrifices that underpin rural, small-town life in Henbane." (Library Journal)
I had just listened to Sycamore Row by John Grisham and thought that this would be a similarly suspenseful novel. I was disappointed. At first I was confused between the two characters of Lila (mom) and Lucy (daughter). The author may have helped by picking two names that were not so similar. The story is being told with two different time frames in parallel. I was also disappointed with the ending although I cannot give it away. There was not one character that I felt was an actual hero in this story. They all just lacked a certain degree of backbone.
At first I was drawn into the story; however, it quickly developed into a YA novel with grownup crimes. The teenage romance was boring. I felt as if I was reading Nancy Drew discovers sex crimes. Also, I found it hard to detemine the time frame of the actions: when was Lila the victim; when is Lucy a teenager? The ending was very deus ex machina - a tornado which blows away all the loose ends. I would not recommend this to any of my reading group.
The persistent little girl voice that seem to dominate all the characters.
I think the author has talent. However, this book was marketed as a mystery/thriller/gothic and I just got young adult / teenage angst.
This story is fascinating and suspenseful, and I enjoyed it, but the end left me feeling a little unsatisfied. The plot resolves about 3/4 of the way through, but it takes a while to realize, "Oh, that's it then." The last quarter feels like another major revelation should occur - instead, things simply wind down and the book ends.
This is still a good read, with well-drawn characters, a compelling plot, and lovely writing. Happy I took a chance on this.
Nurse, mom, loved to read....but now I love to listen. When I retire I hope to hear waves crashing in 1 ear and audible in the other!
I tried to come up with an eyecatching headline but this book has so much it wouldn't fit. First the story, intense and thrilling, it gave me palpitations. Second, the writing, beautiful, descriptive and melodic, I can picture every tree, clapboard on the old houses, gardens and dark areas that I won't give away. Lastly, the narration, primarily told by mother and daughter, I didn't realize this until midway through part one. I already love Sofia Willingham and the others did a great job too. This is the first book in a long time I wanted to relisten to immediately upon finishing it. I highly recommend.
I listend to it all the way through so it kept me in my seat painting hours which is what I needed to accomplish but the description had me hoping for more of a Southern Gothic flavor with the Ozarks and the dark family history. The ingredients were all there: the characters, the setting, the backstories... but it's not in the writing. I didn't feel any sense of atmosphere or dread. I Wasn't looking for horror but I can't explain without sounding like a pretentious jerk. It just didn't feel as 'dark' as I was hoping for considering the selling points in the description and title.
Yes! I finished QUICK because once I got about halfway through, I couldn't put it down!!!
A bit spoilery - Proving that Chris Bohjalian isn't the only one who can write well about the forced prostitution of women. A decent thriller with plenty of atmosphere, but I felt the ending pulled its punch and the villain (who is obvious and there is no twist; he is who he is) gets no real punishment. As a matter of fact, the slavery of young women appears to just go on. And not just the girls who are sold for sex, many of the women in town are equally in bonds and cannot stop what's happening. One thing that bugged me was that the two narrators who take the alternate perspectives of Lucy and Lila sounded too much alike. If I let my attention wander I sometimes couldn't tell which was which. Really, would it be so hard to find another woman who doesn't sound like a little girl?
Even if it had not been revealed early on, the reader would still easily figure out the "truths" (that it takes everyone else in the book forever to piece together) pretty much from the start. There are absolutely no surprises in this book - not because I'm an expert at anticipating plot twists, but apparently that was the author's intention. Tell the reader everything, then let them sit back while the bumbling characters trip over each other trying to sort it out themselves without ever employing any sort of logic.
If that sense of "come on, figure it out!!" that persists through the whole book weren't annoying enough, the book is filled with phrases like "she considered telling him, but couldn't find the words" or "she wanted to tell him what she'd found, but thought better of it" for absolutely no reason. If any of the characters had actually talked to each other like normal people do in the real world, this book would have been over by the end of the first chapter. Instead, everyone inexplicably chooses silence, thus accepting some horrible fate when a simple explanation could have solved everything from the beginning.
My last complaint would be the overly-stereotypical country-folk. This book claims to be set very near where I'm from, and they did get certain things right. The old wives tales about the shape in the middle of a persimmon seed predicting the winter, or the way a pendant swings predicting the gender of a baby - I'll give you that. But everyone eating squirrel and possum?? C'mon.
I love the way this book built the story. There were some neat surprises along the way, and enough mystery to keep it interesting.
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