Cheri Reviews The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

I started this book last year sometime and put it away. It just didn’t grab me. I received a copy through the publisher, via, and started immediately. But after two sittings, I put it down and promptly forgot about it. It stayed on my “quit but will go back” shelf until a few weeks ago when I saw the audio book was available at the library and decided it was time to give it another shot. This time around, with the help of a couple of pretty good narrators, I was able to stick with it.

Here’s the blurb:

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.

This is definitely a book about secrets and family in a small community. Lots of secrets. The best part of this book, I think, is the way in which the author reveals them. There’s not a lot of “ah ha!” moments or fast-paced action scenes but, instead, a nice, slow build up that allows the reader to live in the heads of the characters. We know what they know. Of course, we suspect more and sometimes we’re right, but not always, and everyone was not what they seemed. What was definitely consistent was the role that the bonds of blood and commitment had with the cast of characters. I felt like I truly understood why they acted in the way they did and I don’t think I had to suspend disbelief a single time. I didn’t like them all and was disgusted by several of them but they felt genuine in their actions and thoughts.

I’ve gone back and forth between 3.5 and 4 stars and have decided to go with four. Here’s why… The main characters, Lucy and Lila, were written well and were both engaging POVs. I liked that they were done in first person, while the other POVs were in third. It set them apart and I felt more involved in their stories.

The secondary characters who were given POVs were pretty well done, too. Although there were a couple that I didn’t really think were necessary: Crete and Gabby. The rest added to the story and gave some important information in a way that was entertaining and felt natural within the book.

As for the feel of the book, it was dark but I don’t think it was nearly as much of a mystery as I had thought it would be and, while there were a couple of places that had me sitting near the edge of my seat, there wasn’t anything that could be called thrilling. Suspenseful would be a better description, I think.

Ultimately, I enjoyed and would recommend this book to friends who like something a bit darker. I do wish it had been more intense, though.

You can purchase or download a sample of The Weight of Blood by clicking here:

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