Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
3.5 of 5 stars - "You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family. There's no forsaking kin."
The Dane family has lived in Henbane, in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, for generations. In this small town, a "dark spot on the map" of the USA as seen from space, they are old timers in a place where blood ties mean everything.
The novel opens with the discovery of a missing girl's dismembered body in a tree by the river. Cheri, with a low IQ, had looked up to Lucy and they had played together often enough as children. Though Cheri had been gone for over a year before she was found, Lucy had never gotten over it because her own mother, Lila, had also disappeared from the town. Haunted by the mystery surrounding these two women, Lucy wonders whether or not the two cases could be related. What happened to her mother and who did that to Cheri? Lucy, who is being raised in his parents' house by her father, Carl, goes to work for her Uncle Crete at the shop and restaurant owned and run by the Dane family for as long as anyone can remember. She suspects that there is something evil in the town, and is concerned that her beloved Uncle Crete may be involved. It's time to expose the secrets even if it means violating the kinfolk bond. For who really is "family"?
This was a quick read with shifting points of view and flips back and forth in time. Lila's story is revealed and Lucy gets the answers she needs. The atmosphere of the setting, both foreboding and mysterious, increases the tension though the reader never gets any true sense of danger even as Lucy does some incredibly stupid things. The conclusion seems a bit anticlimactic and Lucy's somewhat blase acceptance of the revelations seems a little unbelievable, but stays with the theme of blood being thicker than water.
This would be a great read during the heat of summer, sipping sweet tea, watching the lake or river go by from a porch swing and perhaps hearing the chorus of night sounds coming from a nearby wood.
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House for the e-book ARC to review.