Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

For fans of Gillian Flynn and Daniel Woodrell, a dark, gripping debut novel of literary suspense about two mysterious disappearances, a generation apart, and the meaning of family-the sacrifices we make, the secrets we keep, and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.

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.  @Goodreads

The Weight of Blood is a novel about two girls, Lila and Cheri, that disappear a generation apart, in the same small town in the Ozarks of Missouri.  The story is told largely in the narrative of Lila (before her disappearance), and Lila’s daughter, Lucy, who was friends with Cheri.  Lucy inadvertently stumbles upon a clue that may help her find out about her friend, and it isn’t long before she suspects both disappearances may be related. 

The Weight of Blood is a powerful and haunting literary thriller that tests the very limits of family loyalty, or the weight of blood, so to speak. The Ozark landscape is absolutely perfect, and I am typically not a fan of small town mysteries.  Before reading this book, I knew almost nothing about the customs and way of life for those living in the Ozarks, and truth be told, I felt transported to this very different world.  Only a masterful writer can transport you to places you’ve never been and would never want to go to.  Especially now.  Travel agent, Laura McHugh is not. 

The characters were all wonderfully developed, with unique voices.  I absolutely loved Lila’s story from the beginning, with its creepy sense of dread throughout. 

Unfortunately, the ending felt a bit rushed to me, although I think this was the author’s intent; she clearly wants the reader to draw their own conclusion about something, and I wasn’t fully satisfied with that.  Despite the end, though, The Weight of Blood was a great read, and highly recommended.

It should be noted that this is Laura McHugh’s literary debut, and that excites me more than anything.  Once she hones her skills, which are already well-developed, she could be a master of this genre.

Please note:  I received a free copy of this novel courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher, Random House, in exchange for my honest review.

Expected publication date:  March 11, 2014


  1. Great review. I find small town mysteries to be more gripping than those set in the urban areas, to be honest. This one just might find its way to my bookshelves. :)

    1. Thanks! I really liked this book, so I may re-evaluate my small town opinion. :)

  2. Oh this totally pulled me in with the way it sounds. I might need to go stalk this one lol


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