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The Weight of Blood

by Laura McHugh

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh X
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2014
    320 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Power Reviewer Nikki

Debut author? No way!
This page-turning story set in the Ozarks reads like a seasoned author wrote it. I can't wait until discussion on this one opens up. Lots to talk about! Great read!
John Williamson

There Are No Secrets in Small Towns
The Weight of Blood is a fitting title for this book that becomes more apparent as the story evolves. The book is written with each chapter sharing the viewpoint and situations from the perspective of a different character in the book. The author rises to the challenge of this narrative approach, fully develops each character, and successfully limits the number of characters so the reader doesn’t get confused.

It starts off with Lucy trying to solve the mystery of a friend’s disappearance while in the background attempting to come to terms with the disappearance of her own mother, Lila. The book then shifts back in time and is told from Lila, Lucy’s mother that has led a very difficult life before she arrived in the little town of Henbane, Missouri. The second half of the book is told through the eyes of the other major characters and each shares another piece of the puzzle.

The Weight of Blood is an excellent debut novel, with a well-crafted plot, realistic dialogue, strong character development and a conclusion that is not easily foreseen by the reader.
Sharon Mills

Gothically atmospheric and creepy
After missing for a year the body of Cheri Stoddard has finally been found. The gruesome discovery of her dismembered body has left the Henbane community horrified and Lucy Dane her only 'friend' compelled to find out what happened to her.

Set in the fictional town of Henbane in the Ozark's, Missouri, 'The Weight of Blood' is about two missing young women; Cheri from the present, and Lila from almost two decades before. It is also a 'coming of age' tale with Lucy and Lila, telling their story in the form of alternating chapters.

The majority of Henbane's menfolk are pretty mean and disrespectful of its womenfolk and display an unfriendly, at best, attitude and mistrust toward outsiders. Lucy is Henbane born and raised but even she is still not fully accepted by the superstitious, insular, small minded community. Her resemblance to her mother doesn't help matters as it reminds them of the woman they viewed with suspicion and believed to be a witch.

Gothically atmospheric and hauntingly mesmerising, 'The Weight of Blood' is disturbingly dark with cruel deeds being done to the more vulnerable members of the community by bad, or ignorant individuals. I found it almost impossible to leave Lucy and Lila, and read with red rimmed eyes for hours to find out what would happen to them.

The pace is steady for the first half of the book, setting the scene and getting to know the characters complex personalities and back stories. Thereafter, it gains in momentum and intensity in the lead up to the final outcome. With only a quarter of the book left to read I did wonder if McHugh would be able to pull it all together convincingly. However, I was not disappointed as the final reveal felt plausible and in context with the rest of the book and didn't feel contrived or forced in any way.

My only quibble is the lack of distinction between the voices of Lucy or Lila, even their names felt too similar, making it difficult to recognise who was speaking. At times I had to re-check the start of the chapter to remind myself who was narrating. That said, I still absolutely loved it.

Perfect for fans of Tana French, Karen Slaughter, Emma Cline, and Amy Engel. Utterly enthralling, 'The Weight of Blood' is an outstanding debut novel and I'm looking forward to reading McHugh's second novel 'Arrowood'.
Power Reviewer BeckyH

THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD by Laura McHugh
THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD concerns what happens when family loyalty blinds one member to the oddities, questions and inconsistencies of another member; when love for a brother leads one to cover up misdeeds in the name of family and to continue for years never admitting the half truths that abound.
This thriller by Laura McHugh starts out mildly unsettling and ratchets up as the pages turn. Carl and Clete are brothers who both fall for the same girl, Lila, an orphan who comes to the Ozarks for work and finds love. After marrying Carl, Lila has a daughter Lucy, who is loved by both her father and her uncle. In short order a town girl disappears and her body is found dismembered and stuffed in a tree. Lila, considered an outsider and perhaps a witch, disappears soon after. The story continues 16 years later with Lila’s daughter and increasing tension between the brothers and in the town.
McHugh does a good job with tension and atmosphere, characterization and ordinariness as the story deepens into horror. Some readers may be disturbed by the subtext of white slavery. Book groups will discuss family secrets, loyalty, the pull of neighborliness, mental handicaps, privacy and small town morals topics for discussion.
4 of 5 stars
Mel

A Study of the Ozarks
Laura McHugh paints a realistic view of the Ozarks, from the perspective of a young woman, of some privilege who has grown up in a particularly unwelcoming, scary town, but who is protected from its cruelties due to her family's stance. The young woman loves the beauty of the Ozarks. She loves its woods, caves, rivers, and many of its people. Ultimately, however she can no longer hide from its darkest side. After she discovers town secrets that are very close to her home and heart, she has to make choices - choices of loyalty and to whom does her loyalty lay with - and choices of where she will live out her future.
susan

strong plot and voice(s)
Riveted and suspenseful until I got through 2/3 of the book. while the book is primarily about Lucy and a parallel, haunting history of her mother Lila, the relationship unfolds in the context of the mystery surrounding the death of her friend Cheri. The storytelling has not yet convinced me that Lucy and Cheri were friends, hopefully this will be resolved by the book's end. Too many abruptly introduced red herrings as to the whodunit of Cheri's murderer.
SMD

The Weight of Blood
I was excited to receive an advanced copy of the book because the blurbs were so exciting and encouraging however I was ultimately disappointed. It starts off strong and captivating - loved the alternating points of view told independently by mother and daughter 17 years apart - by laying the groundwork for the story, then builds the suspense as it picks up steam by dropping hints of the darkness yet to come. The best and strongest part of the book is the middle as the tension increases and your imagination starts thinking 'could it be this?' Then 'oh no, it couldn't be that......could it?'. Then, after hundreds of pages of leisurely telling the alternating perspectives, comes the entirely rushed, jarringly brief and unsatisfying conclusion. For me, a book is only great (and recommended) if the conclusion rings true. Unfortunately that isn't the case here.
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