Friday, March 20, 2015

The Weight of Blood from Laura McHugh

4 of 5 stars

A young teenaged girl disappears from a rural Ozark community and is hardly missed until her body turns up in pieces, lodged in the branches of a fallen tree on the river bank across from Henbane's local store. The murdered girl was Lucy's neighbor, and her disappearance a year earlier struck a chord with the young girl whose own mother disappeared 15 years ago just as mysteriously. 

Are these disappearances as connected as the ties that bind the people of Henbane? Lucy thinks so, and her exploration takes her on a dangerous journey. She'll find out what happened to them both, and discover in the process that nothing is as it seems.


Immediately upon reading the blurb for Weight of Blood, I though of Daniel Woodrell's 2010 Winter's Bone. Both are set in insular Ozark communities with young female main characters touched by a disappearance and determined to delve into the muck and find the truth.  Both find out that the truth doesn't necessarily set you free.

Winter's Bone is better by a small margin, with a little more emotional depth and a greater feeling of authenticity. I never felt that Lucy was in as much danger as Ree, the protagonist in Winter' s Bone.  

I recommend both books, with a caveat - don't read them close together! They're too similar in theme to be appreciated consecutively.