I could not wait to dive into The Weight of Blood. I happened to be out camping in Northern Ontario this past weekend, and spent the first night itching to start this book. I burned through The Good Girl (review coming next week) to get to this book. The Weight of Blood is more than Lucy Dane’s quest to find out how her friend died, it is an in depth examination of family ties. It forces you to compare the family you’re born with and the family you make.
The Good Bits.
The driving force of this novel is the tension. You can feel when a character is on edge, or when something is a little off. I find that sometimes authors think they need to tell you how to feel, but McHugh doesn’t, and I commend her for that.
One of the big mysteries of this novel is the disappearance of Lila, Lucy Dane’s mother. Lila is a newcomer to the town, hired to work at the Dane family store. Lila disappears shortly after Lucy’s birth. When Lila arrived in town, every time she met someone I got a sense of who was a good character and who seemed like trouble. I may have spent an entire chapter commenting to my boyfriend about how a certain character seemed rape-y. Then second guessing myself and thinking that he’s only supposed to seem that way to throw you off. But the best part is that you actually have room to speculate. McHugh doesn’t box you in by saying things like “Lila got a bad feeling about Joe”.
Laura McHugh also does a wonderful job at developing a setting with its own character. The little local spots in the town and the bits of community folklore make for a rich and imaginable setting. Adding that sort of depth to the town helped pull it apart from the typical small town you might imagine in your head. You get the impression that there isn’t much around, but you know all the good places left, and the little spots between.
When you’re reading The Weight of Blood, you’re introduced to a lot of characters, and you will remember most, if not all, of them. Even the minor characters had enough interesting quirks and personality to be memorable. I don’t mean cheap quirks either e.g. Timmy licks shoes for fun. Almost every character has a history as rich as the town they’re in. Lucy’s best friend Bess, for example, isn’t a one-dimensional, tag-along friend. She has her own story line and her family has an independent history tied into Lucy’s. Each character, on top of being unique, is in some way connected to another town member. This reinforced the sometimes compact and almost suffocating nature of the town. It also highlighted the feeling of ‘home’ that kind of closeness can inspire.
When I was about 2-4 chapters away from the end of the novel, I thought I would have nothing for this section. Then I finished those few chapters and dropped a sandwich off my rating. The ending of The Weight of Blood doesn’t live up to the rest of the novel. It feels like a rushed finish to a carefully crafted story. Further, the mystery of Lila’s disappearance remains unsolved. Or rather, it’s 95% solved. This is where you get into the argument of whether all loose ends should be tied up, or if leaving a little mystery is better.
The Last Bite.
The Weight of Blood is a novel rich in character and story line development. It explores the boundaries between your impression of a person, and how they really are. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a dark mystery with a lot of character focus. Lucy’s investigation can feel a bit ‘Nancy Drew’, but what she finds out about her family history is anything but.
Do you like a book with no loose ends? Or do you prefer some mystery?
If you’ve read The Weight of Blood let me know what you thought! Even if you disagree with me!
Let’s do lunch again next week!
*please note, if you purchase the book through the link provided I will receive a commission. However, this is not a sponsored post. I was not paid to write it, and all my opinions are my own