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review 2016-08-05 19:22
Torn on the rating
The Weight of Blood - Laura McHugh

This was my second try at reading this one. It just didn't grab me the first time but the audio book that I was able to get from the library helped me get into it and stay involved.

 

It was a lot slower than I had thought it would be. And the mystery bits weren't as mysterious or intense as I had hoped. But even with that said, I felt for most of the characters - particularly the women. I think the author did a great job of writing Lila and Lucy and I liked that she set their POVs apart by making them first person, rather than the third person everyone else was done in.

 

I do wish the book had been a bit more intense but I liked the darkness of it. I'd give another book by this author a shot and would recommend it to my friends who like darker themed books.

 

*I received the ebook from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. I have a more detailed review on C-Spot Reviews.

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text 2016-08-04 20:32
Reading progress update: I've read 83%.
The Weight of Blood - Laura McHugh

Sort of twisty but mostly some messed up stuff. Enjoying the story quite a bit. I don't want to stop listening now.

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review 2015-09-06 03:46
The Weight of Blood
The Weight of Blood - Laura McHugh

I was expecting a more traditional mystery than I actually got here, and I was also expecting a paranormal element for some reason.

 

This is a good story, though, for all that is is much more of a thriller than a traditional mystery. Things are definitely not always what they seem, and although I absolutely saw very early on (due to the multiple viewpoints, primarily) at least part of what must have happened, I was surprised by the full extent of what was going on. It was pretty dark and and awful, though the kind of awful that is comparatively mundane, I suppose, given what I was going in expecting.

 

Lucy is a decent main character, and the alternating viewpoint with her (long-missing) mother makes for a good central narrative. Both women are just naive enough that you genuinely believe they could end up in some of the situations in which they end up, but not so naive that they don't handle them in a relatively rational way.

 

Sorry, attempting to avoid spoilers sometimes requires awkward phrasing.

 

The setting was an important part of the atmosphere of the story; important enough that there are few places this could have happened left in the U.S. (not sure about elsewhere, admittedly): small, insular communities where outsiders are treated like aliens (in all senses of the word, I suppose); communities full of secrets that are not spoken of and bad things that aren't shared with the outside world. Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft both wrote novels that shared this basic setting, and it lets this story take the step it needs from forgettable novel into a slightly eerie thriller.

 

In the end, I enjoyed it, and might pick up another novel by the author, but I'm not immediately going out and grabbing a bunch of them--if you're more into thrillers in general than I am, though, this might very much be your cup of tea.

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review 2015-01-22 00:09
Laura McHugh's The Weight of Blood

I am absolutely and positively in love with this book....with its story, its setting, its characters...and despite the fact that the "I'm so high on this book let me rave about it right away" version of my review got carried into oblivion by the magical forces of my Firefox, my initial literary infatuation has not diminished one bit in the meantime...

I find it a bit amusing that most debut books in this genre get compared to Gillian Flynn - I am assuming in the attempt to stir the readers of Gone Girl in the direction of this book but I find that this comparison is a bit unfair towards the talent that Laura McHugh brings to the table all on her own. I am not expert on small town America but Henbane of McHugh's literary world is going to stay with me for quite a while. I am drawn to writers who know how to create the worlds I end up inhibiting with (reading) ease. And though Henbane of this story is murky and ominous, filled with darkness and secrets, I've enjoyed every second of "visiting" it.

Lucy Dane is sixteen, and though she was born and raised in Henbane, she is constantly dancing on the outer edges of actual acceptance by the other locals. Probably because her mother was an exotic and alluring outsider whose sudden departure soon after Lucy's birth still haunts the little town and especially Lucy herself. Lucy's friends are few and far between and when one of them (Cheri) is found dead, Lucy's need for answers ends up leading her down the path of (self)discovery that will change her world in more ways than she expected.

The story moves seamlessly between the past and the present, switching narration between various characters, allowing the reader greater insight into numerous points of view and I loved that shifting point of view. Getting to know Lucy, her mom Lila, brothers Crete and Carl, Lucy's neighbor Birdie - their stories and journeys end up being just as seductive as the main story itself. I wouldn't be surprised to see this book turned into a movie, it seems to have all the elements Hollywood is drawn to these days.

I know I'll be grabbing a copy of whatever books comes out of Laura McHugh's keyboard next. In the meantime I just wanted to share a few of the beautiful quotes that simply "forced" their way into my collection:

"She'd make a game of it where she'd relax all the little bits of her body, starting with her fingers and toes and working in toward the center. She had to make herself limp and draw the hurt and want into a tight core inside, each time adding another layer to that core, so that if somebody came along and cut her open, they'd find inside a shining, perfect pearl, hard as any Willy Wonka jawbreaker."

"I took in the thick night air, the sweet smell of honeysuckle, the chirping of frogs, to impress the moment in the folds of my memory, preserve it like a flower between pages of a book. To remember: This is how it feels to be happy."

"It occurred to her then that there was a reason age drained the pleasure out of life, slowly stripping away all the things you enjoyed or took for granted. It was so you wouldn't need convincing when the time came. You'd be ready, because everything good in life was gone."

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review 2014-06-02 04:35
This is a page turner for the beach!
The Weight of Blood - Laura McHugh

This was a really good audiobook. I listened to it in just about one day. There were several different readers, and they all did their parts well. The author has created an atmosphere of mystery and suspense, capturing the reader’s interest from the get-go. The only problem was that it took me awhile to figure out that there were two stories being told concurrently, in two different time frames, about 18 years apart, with some characters appearing in both. Lila and her daughter Lucy are the main characters, and they are both naïve, but romantic, young women.
The background story is about Lila Petrovich, a naive orphan from Iowa. Her once idyllic life, on a farm, ended when her parents were killed in a car crash. She was sent to foster homes from the time she was 12, but at 18, she aged out of the system and took a job in Henbane, Missouri, in the Ozark Mountains, working for the Dane family at their restaurant and doing odd jobs as needed in the slow season. Henbane is also a poisonous plant that is sometimes used medicinally. Lila was to be provided with room and board, as well as a salary. She has no other options in life, so she takes the job, hoping to save some money so she can take an apartment and one day support herself. She knows very little about her employer or her responsibilities.
Crete and Carl Dane are brothers, ten years apart, bound by blood to protect each other. The Dane family was once the town’s gravediggers, but in the small town, there was no longer a great need for grave-digging. The farm was left to the older brother, Crete. Carl works in construction. Their mom is in a nursing home, suffering from some mental decline.
Crete seems nice at first, but soon he becomes a bit more overwhelming. Carl is the softer of the brothers. There are other people working on the property. One is a woman called Ransome, who tends the farm and who also lives in a cottage on the property. Another is Gabby who trains Lila at the restaurant/gas station and becomes her friend. Lila falls in love and marries Carl. Her child is named Lucy. One day, when she is 20, Lila goes off, disappears and is never found. Carl is overcome with grief and begins to drink. Others take care of Lucy in the interim. Stories grow up about Lila’s disappearance. She is often referred to as a kind of a witch. She was beautiful and people were somehow drawn to her, therefore thinking she had powers.
Lucy, Lila’s daughter, was only a baby when her mother disappeared. She grows up in Henbane. It is a small town (created by the author), and there are no secrets there, except those they want to keep. At 18, she too goes to work for Uncle Crete. Carl Dane is her father. Also working for her uncle is a boy named Dan. She remembers him fondly from a game of spin the bottle when they were kids. Their friendship grows as they work together.
There is a girl Cheri, who also lives in Henbane. She and Lucy are sort of friends. Bess is also Lucy’s friend. Bess is Gabby’s daughter. The different generations are connected. Cheri is a bit slow, not quite right, but Lucy and Cheri laugh together. Cheri has no home life. Her mom is a single mother unable to handle the responsibility of her family. One day, Cheri disappears. Her mom thinks she ran away. When her body is discovered, this once ignored child becomes a celebrity with townspeople who claim a connection to her, although they formerly ignored her. Lucy decides to try and solve the murder mystery and also the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. With Dan, she explores different possibilities and discovers little clues in unexpected places.
The story moves along quickly and tension is created on almost every page, but not the kind that raises your blood pressure, rather the kind that raises your curiosity. Even the gruesome details do not seem to rise to the horrific heights of some murder mysteries, and that to me was a good thing.
The story goes back and forth between Lila’s and Lucy’s stories and sometimes, when a different character is featured, it gets a little confusing. I actually made some notes to connect certain characters and their lineage, but although it was sometimes disorienting, it was never overwhelming.
The book is a good vacation read. It is not going to tax your brain, but it is not going to lull you to sleep either. There are a slew of characters, and they play their parts well. I think this book could be a crossover from adult to young adult since the main characters are both around 18 years old. There are some gruesome scenes of violence, and there is some graphic sex, but it is minimal. Enjoy the read!

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