Let’s get one thing straight: With The Weight of Blood, it’s clear that Laura McHugh is more than a pretender to the throne of the “rural noir” genre. If her dazzling and disturbing debut novel is anything to go by, she’s got her eye on the crown and has more than the necessary talent and skills to nab it for herself. Daniel Woodrell had better watch his back.
Lucy Dane has lived in Henbane all 17 years of her life, but she is ostracized by many of the town’s locals because of malicious rumors surrounding her mother, an exotic and bewitching outsider who disappeared without a trace when Lucy was just a baby. So when Lucy’s friend, Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy finds that the loss dredges up many of the long-buried questions about the day her mother wandered into Old Scratch Cavern with a pistol in hand and was never seen again. As Lucy digs deeper into what happened to Cheri, she begins uprooting the tenuous foundation of her own life—and discovers that some things may be better left lost.
The Weight of Blood is a tense, taut novel and a truly remarkable debut. McHugh, who moved to the Ozarks with her family as a preteen, elegantly interweaves the stories of Lucy and her mother, Lila, shifting between narratives to delicately ratchet up the tension and ensnare her audience, like a sly spider crafting a beautiful but deadly web. The pacing is swift, the writing redolent, and McHugh is not afraid to burrow into some very dark territory—readers will gasp in a mixture of surprise, horror and delight as pieces of her gruesome puzzle begin to slide into place. The Weight of Blood rewards its readers with a suspenseful thrill ride that satisfies in all the right ways.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our Q&A with Laura McHugh for The Weight of Blood.Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
In this darkly suspenseful debut, 16-year-old Lucy is regarded as an outsider by her Ozarks neighbors because her beautiful, haunting mother was a stranger who eventually disappeared. Now Lucy's lovely but slow-witted friend, Cheri, has been murdered, and Lucy wants answers. With targeted promotion, including movie theater giveaways, suggesting that something interesting is going on here.[Page 57]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Debut novelist McHugh comes out swinging with this gripping tale set in the Ozarks of Missouri. Lucy Dane's family is intricately linked to the "hollers" and woods of her hometown of Henbane: her father and uncle grew up there, and her mother--a bewitching young beauty named Lila--disappeared from the area when Lucy was just a year old. When her friend Cheri goes missing and is later found murdered, Lucy begins to investigate the crime. But her search for the truth soon expands to include the mystery of her mother's disappearance--and it puts Lucy herself in jeopardy. By telling the story from multiple points of view, McHugh reveals some of the town's dark secrets even as Lucy works to uncover them. Her prose will not only keep readers turning the pages but also paints a real and believable portrait of the connections, alliances, and sacrifices that underpin rural, small-town life in Henbane. VERDICT Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy thrillers by authors such as Laura Lippman and Tana French. [See Prepub Alert, 9/13/13.]--Amy Hoseth, Colorado State Univ. Lib., Fort Collins[Page 79]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In this clever, multilayered debut, McHugh deftly explores the past of an Ozark Mountain family (think doublewides, pickups, and possum stew) with plenty to hide and the ruthlessness to keep their secrets hidden. Seventeen-year-old Lucy Dane, from Henbane, Mo., is grieving for her murdered friend, Cheri, and her mother, Lila, who vanished soon after Lucy was born. Determined to solve both mysteries, Lucy never realizes just how close the answers might lie. Her father, Carl, and her uncle, Crete, are not forthcoming about what they know, which only makes her more curious. McHugh alternates narrators, presenting each chapter from one character's perspective, but the most compelling is Lila's (given in flashbacks to her arrival in the area 18 years earlier, as a contract farm employee of Uncle Crete). Young Lila's hopes for a fresh start after a childhood spent bouncing from one foster home to another are dashed when she painfully learns that Crete plans to put her to work as a prostitute. In the present, Lucy uncovers evidence that puts her in jeopardy, leading to sudden, surprising violence, followed by a tornado that helps wipe the slate clean. This is an outstanding first novel, replete with suspense, crisp dialogue, and vivid Ozarks color and atmosphere. Agent: Sally Wofford-Girand, Union Literary. (Mar.)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC