The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.
Reading The Weight of Blood felt like sitting on a swing-chair on a porch in the sticky night-time heat with Dragonfiles bashing against your lantern; kind of peaceful and beautiful but there’s this uncomfortable feeling rising to the surface, and you know where it’s coming from but if you just ignore it, it might go away. Obviously, it never goes away…
The Weight of blood is set in a small town with big secrets and a growing number of disappearing teenage girls. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character and from two different periods of time. In the present Lucy is hell-bent on finding out what happened to her friend Cheri, a girl with learning-difficulties who was found dismembered in a tree, and also trying to discover what happened to her mum, Lila who vanished a year after she was born.
We also follow Lila as she first arrives in Henbane with the promise of a job and board from local business man, Crete Dane. It’s not long before Lila realises that all is not quite as it seems in this town.
McHugh really did a great job here in intertwining these two stories to create a compelling read. I wasn’t ferociously trying to find out who was behind it all, or on the edge of my seat as I was fed more pieces of the puzzle like I sometimes am when reading thrillers, but that’s not to say it wasn’t compelling.
The story unfolds at a gentle pace (and the plot continues to thicken all the way to the end) but I was never bored. There is something enchanting about her writing that makes it a joy to just float along for the ride. The style really reminded me of Alice Hoffman in that way.
I was a little disappointed that there were no major unexpected turns or twists, but as it was the writing and the characters were enough to keep me happy. The characterisation was great, with more than enough seedy, sinister ones to keep you guessing, and Lila and Lucy were both so likeable that it was hard to not get invested in their well-being.
Disclosure?: I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an HONEST review,
Title: The Weight of Blood
Author: Laura McHugh
Details: Hardcover, ebook, 320 pages
Published: March 11th 2014 by Spiegel & Grau (Random House)
My Rating: 4/5
You’ll like it if you liked: Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman