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.
Ms. McHugh has written an excellent first novel, a story told from the perspective of multiple narrators, but primarily by a mother and a daughter, with related story lines 17 years apart in time. The novel has one of the most despicable villains in all of recent literature.
The eponymous quote:
"You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family. There's no forsaking kin but you can't help when kin forsakes you or when strangers come to be family."
Using a suspicious mountain town with an incredibly seedy underside as her backdrop, I believe Ms. McHugh accomplished exactly and outstandingly what she intended. Blood versus Heart. Two female protagonists related to ambiguous, weak-spined male thread to villain (one by blood, one by marriage), playing with the variations in between, including the exploitation of young females.
The main characters are pretty well developed, but the story and the structure win the day here.
I'd say 4.5 stars, but I'll give it 5 because I didn't want to stop listening before I finished and I was sorry that it ended.
The narrators were all top notch.
I enjoy literary fiction with character depth and psychological exploration. I am in my 50s, work in psychology, and love the outdoors.
I enjoyed the narration of this book, the voices were easy to listen to and understand with good pacing. It took me some time, however, to sort out who was who in the beginning and after about two hours when I finally figured out what was going on, I went back and listened to many parts to solidify what I had missed when I was trying to place what was happening in the story. After that, the book was very good as the teen-age (19 year old) protagonist was working to solve two mysteries, the death of her friend and then the death of her mother. The mystery became involved and suspenseful keeping me interested and impressed with the author's ability to create such an intricate tale. Unfortunately, I felt the ending was a bit disappointing but will leave that up to you to decide. This book could be for a teen or young adult audience but works for adults too. If there was a 3.8, I would have given that but there isn't and the storyline was not quite good enough to make a 4 for me.
This was a very good audiobook, definitely a "page turner". I liked the use of (3) narrators, although I wish the voices had been a little more distinctive. It was difficult to discern which narrator was speaking. Fortunately, the book chapters are labeled by each narrators name. Otherwise, I would have struggled to know who was telling the story.
This story reminded me very much of "Ruby Red Heart in the Cold Blue Sea". Very similar story ( teenage girl loses mother early in life under mysterious circumstances ). If you liked this, check out RRH....
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.
It was a interesting story with a few unexpected twists. I loved learning with Lucy who her mother was and why some of the characters rough outer shell was formed.
The use of "local language" set the tone of the Ozark area I suppose, however it got old.
The story certainly made you evaluate your life and family. How far would you go?
This is one of my most favorite books of 2014. It was perfect and had everything I like about a book. I also love when they use different people to narrate different characters in a book.
It was actually quite a good read. Having different chapters come from different players' perspectives, both past and present, worked quite well to unfold the story. The actors representing each voice were excellent. The characters are multi-faceted, even the ones whose actions (or inactions) are heinous.
What prevents me from recommending The Weight of Blood is how depressing it is. Put aside the human trafficking, which is depicted realistically enough to be truly disturbing. Still, the life of every woman in the book is mired in hopelessness of varying degrees. Some ray of hope is offered at the conclusion, but I was too disheartened to grasp it as I finished the book. But I guess this is the sign of a well written book, to have me so emotionally involved.
Edit: After reading another review, I found the true recent news item that likely inspired this book. Now I'm even more depressed. (less)
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