The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

The Weight of Blood: A Novel


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.


The Weight of Blood is a dark book. It is not happy fun read. I really enjoyed it, though the ending is not as satisfying as I would have liked.

The Weight of Blood is told mostly from two points of view, Lucy and Lila. Even though they are a generation apart their stories feel like they are so similar. They aren't really, but they feel almost like the same voice which is interesting. Henbane is a small, close knit community. They don't take kindly to outsiders so when Lila shows up no one is very happy. The locals make up stories of how she is a witch and possessing the men folk and such. You can't help but feel bad for the poor girl, especially when it becomes apparent why Crete brought her to town. The story is unfolded gradually, but you know what is going on before you know all of the details.

It is interesting how similar Lila and Lucy's stories are, even though they are told years apart. As the story unfolds and you see just how many people were involved, or knew pieces and never did is just really hard to think about. I know this is fiction, but pieces are based on true events which is just...when you see how many people did nothing, how some people knew exactly what was going on yet let it continue....I know things like that actually happen. I know people turn a blind eye when they could help. It is just really upsetting to think about. The story is very slow moving, but it really felt true. The slow pace and writing style made it feel like you were in the story. Made it feel like I was there and part of the community. The tone felt so genuine there were so many times when I felt like yelling at the characters. Like what is wrong with you?! How long are you just going to hold onto this? How long are you just going to let things go, even if you don't have concrete evidence. If just one person would have stood up, like the one character sorta tried to do, think of how much suffering could have been avoided. Really if the one person would have stood up and said something everything could have been different.

Because the storyline is about such sad things and no one doing anything you really want that ending where you just see everyone get what is coming to them. You want everything out in the open. You want everyone to see what everyone else covered up or didn't say. You want them to pay for the things that have been done. Unfortunately you don't really get that. The ending, while not as satisfactory to read as I would have liked, felt true to the story. It just is like I imagine it would have been. I just loved how you really get a feel for what it would be like living there. The writing is fantastic and really makes you feel like you are immersed in everything. A great read.

Rating: ★★★★1/2

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