Book Review: ‘The Weight of Blood’ by Laura McHugh


Rating: 4.5 / 5

Lucy Dane doesn’t know of life outside of small town Hebrane, in the Ozark Mountains.  Her father, Carl Dane, wants Lucy to graduate high school, and leave Hebrane to go to college and lead a better life.  Though Lucy was born and raised in Hebrane, she has always felt like somewhat of an outsider.  This is because her mother, Lila, disappeared when Lucy was just a baby, and Lila appeared in Hebrane overnight.  The residents of the sleepy town all know one another, and Lila’s sudden appearance and mysterious past had people convinced she was a witch.  Carl rarely mentions Lila to her daughter, and the town is divided between believing that Lila ran away on her own accord and believing that something tragic happened to her. Recently Cheri, an acquaintance of Lucy’s was found murdered, and Lucy, with the help of a local boy, Daniel, try to figure out how wanted to kill Cheri.  In the process, Lucy uncovers deep secrets about her family, threatening her father and her own livelihood. 

It was difficult to put down The Weight of Blood once I got going.  The novel alternates between various characters and between the past and the present, but it is easy to keep everything straight.  Part of the story is told from Lila’s perspective, how she came to Hebrane, and the tragic events leading to her disappearance.  Part of the story is also told from Lucy’s point-of-view.  In order to fully get the sense of the secrets that have burdened the small town and add dimension to the story, a few chapters are devoted to other characters.  I liked this delivery aspect because it added depth and richness to the mystery.  It is easy for the reader to simply wonder why people didn’t speak up when they thought something was wrong, and by using multiple perspectives, McHugh seamlessly weaves in the complexities and consequences of keeping secrets.

Halfway through, it becomes somewhat apparent what the outcome will be, but that fact doesn’t lessen the intensity or the interest in the story.  The Weight of Blood dives into the power and responsibilities we have to ourselves and our families, and the consequences of keeping secrets.

The Bottom Line: The Weight of Blood is a compelling mystery set in a small town.  It is gritty, gripping, and although a bit predictable, it has more depth than an airport mystery book.

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