The Weight of Blood is a surprisingly accomplished first novel by Laura McHugh. Set in the rural Ozarks, it is the mystery of two women a generation apart, caught up in a small town where secrets tend to stay buried.
McHugh creates an exceptional sense of atmosphere. She captures the rural setting in all its beauty and its menace. She pulls you deeply into the story and it takes you awhile to reemerge once you set the book down, which is not easy to do. The pages fly by and can easily be devoured in one sitting.
When Lucy’s friend Cheri’s cut up body is found in the river near the center of town, Lucy is one of the few, if not the only, person who continues to care what happened to her. Searching for answers to Cheri’s disappearance and murder leads Lucy to wonder about her own mother Lila’s disappearance when Lucy was a baby.
The story alternates between the Lucy’s present and Lila’s arrival in town nearly 20 years earlier. Both timelines are thoroughly engrossing and as they come together the pace continues to heat up. McHugh does a wonderful job of creating fleshed out characters and an even better job of making you feel the menace, both subtle and overt that exists in the tight-knit community.
This book is both deeply chilling and deeply moving. The characters are real and complicated. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It will stay with you. A powerful novel. Highly recommended.
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.