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)
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.
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)
I enjoyed the story line and all the main characters. A lot. But then when we got to the end I found myself very disappointed that much of the mystery in the book never gets explained. No one comes to justice. The bad guys, of which I am never sure who all they are, just get to skate free. Or die by unknown methods.
I love it when the books have more then one narrater to read the story, it become so much better to listen to!
An avid reader who cherishes my time with a good book!
This story was well-written and the narration was very good. I enjoyed the characters and the setting was very engaging and interesting. It moved a bit slow in places and I just felt let down by the ending, as if there should have been more closure for the characters. It was a decent read but I would be far more inclined to recommend Gone Girl.
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