Review: The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (March 11, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 081299520
  • Source: Publisher

Seventeen year old Lucy Dane lives in the small town of Henbane, deep in the Ozark Mountains.  She knows loss personally and deeply,  for her own mother went missing when Lucy was an infant. Her friend Cheri, a mentally challenged young woman from a broken home, has been missing for a year. Her body was found placed in a tree in full view of the townpeople.

The townspeople of Henbane tend to keep to themselves, burying the past and all its secrets.  They have never truly accepted Lucy as one of their own.  Her mother, an “outsider” was rumored to have been a witch, for how else could she have one over the heart of the young and attractive Carl Bane?  They still see Lucy as a product of her mother.  Despite this, Lucy make sit her mission to see to it that Cheri’s killer is revealed and, in doing so, learns about her mother’s fate as well.  What she uncovers is far more dark and disturbing than she could ever have imagined, forcing her to reevaluate those individuals closest to her, including her own family.

The Weight of Blood is an absolutely captivating thriller that delves deep into the pain surrounding family secrets and the depths we’ll go to protect the ones we love.  I was astounded to learn that this is McHugh’s debut, for the talent she displayed in crafting this novel. The small town setting and the politics of small town life leap from the pages, captivating the reader from the beginning.  Told in alternating points of view and places in time, McHugh reveals just enough with each chapter to entice the reader and compel them to continue.

Lucy is a strong-willed, headstrong young woman. Her obsession with getting to the root of Cheri’s disappearance doesn’t relinquish, even if it means those close to her will implicated and punished.  She struggles to gain independence despite the fact that her father, still recovering her mother’s disappearance, attempts to prevent her from doing so. Her passion and commitment to justice is commendable. This mission takes her on an unexpected journey of discovery, of both the past and her own identity.

The Weight of Blood is certainly not a light read. It explores topics such as human trafficking, abuse against women, and showcases how small-town living inhibits many of the women who live there from seeking a life beyond the mountains.  The author used her own knowledge and familiarity with the Ozarks to build this intense story, using a real murder as the inspiration of this novel.

The Weight of Blood is a tremendous debut novel full of depth and emotion, one that leaves a lasting impression. Highly, highly recommended.

3 Comments to "Review: The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh"

  1. March 11, 2014 - 2:58 PM | Permalink

    This title is starting to pop up everywhere and deservedly so! It was mentioned in Entertainment Weekly magazine this week in their top ten list.
    Your review is right-on. Laura McHugh has delivered an amazing first novel.

  2. Ann@booksonthetable's Gravatar Ann@booksonthetable
    March 11, 2014 - 10:14 PM | Permalink

    Great review! This book kept me up way past my bedtime — an amazing first novel. I met Laura last fall and she is lovely — so glad her book is getting the acclaim it deserves.

  3. March 13, 2014 - 9:37 AM | Permalink

    That’s an amazing review. I definitely want to read this book now! I’ve been seeing this title pop up frequently on twitter as well. I am glad that a book dealing with human trafficking and abuse against women is in the limelight!

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