Customer Reviews


 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The weight of blood 5/5
"You Grow up feeling the weight of blood, family. There's no forsaking kin"

The weight of blood takes us deep into the Ozark community. Where everyone is related through blood, marriage or friendships that span generations.

"Most of the families who inhabit the small mountain towns have lived there for generations, and they are not always...
Published 5 months ago by Go Book Yourself

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT FOR ME
I bought this one after reading the very positive reviews and I wish I hadn't. It must be me. I must be on a different wave length from the other reviewers. I found the story rambling , the characters without depth and the action rather gratuitous and sordid. While I welcomed the ending ,when it came it was weak and unsatisfactory.
The abduction, torture and...
Published 10 months ago by Alexander Bryce


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT FOR ME, 8 Aug. 2014
By 
Alexander Bryce (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this one after reading the very positive reviews and I wish I hadn't. It must be me. I must be on a different wave length from the other reviewers. I found the story rambling , the characters without depth and the action rather gratuitous and sordid. While I welcomed the ending ,when it came it was weak and unsatisfactory.
The abduction, torture and sexual exploitation of young girls , some still children , is not a subject I care for and if written about should be treated seriously and in a less cavalier fashion.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) More dead girls and sinister secrets in small-town America, 18 Sept. 2014
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Weight of Blood (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This starts well, if conventionally: a dead girl's body, dual time-frame 1st-person narratives from Lucy and Lila, an atmospheric depiction of small-town America haunted by dark and hidden secrets. And if, by about p.40, we're already completely sure where this book is going, well, it's always possible to enjoy the journey.

By section 2, though, (p.129) this careful structure collapses: suddenly six other people become point-of-view characters with their own revolving chapters, alongside Lucy and Lila - as if the author has only just realised that her chosen structure can't accommodate the story she wants to tell. And alongside the constant switching is an increasingly lurid and, frankly, unbelievable, story - I don't want to give away spoilers but Bess' 'revelations' are particularly incredible in a literal sense, and serve as a deus ex machina to solve some of the plot problems.

There is lots of good stuff here: McHugh technically writes well though some of her lyrical descriptions of the stark setting can get a little over-used. There is also some indication of emotional subtlety, especially the refusal to tie up the ends too neatly with regard to Lucy.

On balance, though, this shows all the marks of a debut novelist who hasn't yet hit her stride: the clunky structure, the well-worn plot-line which appears in what feels like every other crime novel being published, the lack of credibility in much of the plot (would Lila really have settled down so happily and silently in Henbane?). This shows potential but is also instantly forgettable: 3.5 stars.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The weight of blood 5/5, 10 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Weight of Blood (Paperback)
"You Grow up feeling the weight of blood, family. There's no forsaking kin"

The weight of blood takes us deep into the Ozark community. Where everyone is related through blood, marriage or friendships that span generations.

"Most of the families who inhabit the small mountain towns have lived there for generations, and they are not always welcoming to outsiders. Blood bonds and loyalties weigh heavily, with the laws of kin held in highest regard. The culture is also rich with folk wisdom and home remedies and a deep knowledge of the land."

The weight of blood is narrated through multiple voices and spans generations like the people themselves. We hear mostly from Lila and then from her daughter Lucy. Both there stories are told from different times but both are effected by the men around them regardless of the passage of time.

Carol and Crete are brothers who have lived there entire lives in the small knit town. On the surface the seem as different as chalk and cheese but beneath they really are the same. Both are willing to turn a blind eye to unspeakable acts if it means keeping the others out of trouble.

“...my mom always telling me that a man with clean nails hides his dirt on the inside.”

For Lucy this means a lifetime of never knowing who her mother was or why she suddenly disappeared, why she always feels like an outsider and why everyone seems to know something she doesn't. She's tough though. She is determined to find out what happened to her friend Cheri and to her mother.

The story hops back and forth between the two women. I really grew to like Lila. As an orphan she had no choice but to deal with the hands dealt to her in life.

Lucy on the other hand, I found a little empty and soulless. As hell bent as she is on uncovering the towns secrets she doesn't seem too affected by it all when the truth is finally uncovered.

At times I felt the book got a little bogged down in it's own detail but the underlying sense of mystery was always there and kept me turning pages.

With The weight of Blood Laura McHugh brings a fresh voice to the grit lit genre.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars American Gothic. Great scene setting and atmosphere., 1 Sept. 2014
By 
JK "J. K." (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Weight of Blood (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm just beginning to explore the world of 'Southern Gothic' fiction. The Weight of Blood fits nicely into the genre.

This is a dark, brooding tale set in the deep South. Much of the the atmosphere comes from the scene setting with it's emphasis on hot, humid conditions and biting, stinging insects. There are lots of places you really wouldn't want to go and the townsfolk are written as a band of people so grotesque you wouldn't be safe to remain in their company. So far so good. Loved all of that quirky, creepy stuff.

The story really kicks in at a point when there's been a murder. The victim is the close friend of Lucy and Lucy has enough on her mind. Her mother Lila disappeared years before and was never found. Is there a link?. Well; the novel is split between Lila and Lucy. It moves between past and present with each woman narrating her own story. Much is uncovered and explained but I'm not telling you anymore.....read the book!.

There were some surprisingly dark and gory elements to the plot. Several times it went further than I'd anticipated and not with a great deal of sensitivity given the subject matter!. Mix in those more brutal scenes with slight supernatural referencing and there's a decently eerie tension building.

The author has the background and scenery almost perfectly painted. Can't fault her. What lets her down is the way the plot begins to ramble towards the end. People begin to reappear. I couldn't remember who they were or work out why they mattered. The ending was a disappointment. What should have been a firework died like a damp sparkler.

For those reasons I'd like to leave 3.5 stars. I can't. I'm rounding up to 4* because I loved the whole 'Gothic' atmosphere.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Novel, 20 Aug. 2014
By 
ACB(swansea) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The setting for this novel is a small town in the Missouri Ozarks. Narrated by Lili and her daughter Lucy in two separate storylines two decades apart, it tells of their experiences in the small town of Henbane. Lili is an orphan who arrives from the adjacent state of Iowa to work under contract with her sponsor, Crete Dane, older brother of Carl. She is considered an outsider and with her attractive gypsy looks, town gossip brands her a witch. When Lucy was a baby, Lila disappeared, bearing a gun into Old Scratch Cave, never to return. Lucy, as a 17 year old, is next faced with a childhood friend who has been found dismembered in the woods, a year after disappearing. Lucy soon has concerns about whether 'Cheri and Lila, two lost girls, bookended with a life of mysteries between them', might be more than coincidental in their fates. The two timelines run smoothly together despite the time difference, easily assimilated by the reader as they involve the same characters across eras.

Laura McHugh vividly draws the community feeling of Henbane with its population of 707 people. No one seems to want to voluntarily leave. The largely unambitious townsfolk all know one another and their business yet are tight-lipped about any idle scandalmongery for fear of incrimination from the few with power. The superstitions, jealousy, and tension are built-up within the community. It seems impossible that any acts of crime are not known, even by a few.

Lila's story is the predominant feature of the novel. Her experiences, torment and fortitude are heart-rending. Lucy, with help, pieces many of the jigsaw pieces together, not without putting herself at danger. The author draws the main characters and surroundings into a well-developed and believable scenario. Lesser names come and go, some more important than others. The two-story narrative becomes more involved as the others join in the drive to the finale: exciting, but a touch too convenient.

This is an excellent novel. It contains graphic scenes some may find disturbing yet are essential to the story. The claustrophobic atmosphere of an almost self-policed community are stirringly evocative. Overall, the goodies and baddies may be readily discernible, but maybe they are not mutually exclusive, leaving food for thought. Tense and well-written. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to Laura McHugh's development.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 8 Aug. 2014
By 
K. Nixon (Kent) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Tragedy seems to follow at Lucy Dane’s heels. When she was a little girl Lucy’s beautiful young mother, Lila, vanished after entering a cave known as Old Scratch near the town of Henbane, isolated deep in the Ozark mountains. Residents of the area know everything about everyone and are suspicious of newcomers. At the time the disappearance was the biggest event in the town’s history.

That is until one of Lucy’s friends, Cheri, is found murdered. Her dismembered body has been placed in a tree trunk. Cheri wasn’t a popular girl, Lucy her only true friend. Soon Cheri’s death is forgotten as Henbane’s citizens get on with their lives. No-one seems to be interesting in finding out who her killer was, except for Lucy. One day whilst working she discovers a necklace in an abandoned mobile home, a necklace that Lucy had given Cheri. The girl never took it off. This clue prompts Lucy to want to know more and she begins digging into Cheri’s death. Soon she starts that it might be linked to the disappearance of her mother. But no-one will talk to her. Not her father, nor her uncle. Both of them seem to know more than they’re prepared to admit. But Lucy can’t help herself and will push through to the end, no matter what she might learn…

McHugh’s debut is a very good read. Two timelines stretch through the novel – one past, the other present. The former is driven via Lila’s perspective, the latter via her daughter Lucy. It’s interesting and different, but it does create a few problems. Although the author deals with any confusion by signposting each chapter with the name of the character whose perspective is being told, what isn’t signposted is which timeline the chapter is set within. Early in the novel, when not many characters have been introduced, this is fine. But toward the back third, when a plethora of characters are present, and because there are two stories to understand, it becomes distracting and difficult to follow.

However the author does conjure a sense of place extremely well. As she grew up in the Ozarks, perhaps this is to be expected, but the atmosphere she generates is a cut above most novels. As is the characterisation – the suspicions and behaviours of small town residents are well portrayed. Their lives seem to be forever linked to where they were born and will more than likely die. It’s bleak at times, and McHugh creates excellent tension during the unravelling of this compelling tale.

The narratives really suck you in, driving you to find out what’s happened and why. This is the good side of the two timelines the author uses. There are two deaths to understand and resolve – Cheri’s and Lila’s. The Weight of Blood is a very well written novel. When the strands are drawn together it reaches a conclusion that is not only powerful, but makes sense as well.

Originally reviewed for Crime Fiction Lover.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant, 15 July 2014
By 
Book Addict Shaun (England, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The setting of this book was brilliant, and was the main draw to the novel for me when I was asked if I would like to review it. Recently I've been looking for crime fiction set in places which I've never read about before, it makes a change from the usual settings of London or the main US cities which now in comparison come across as quite boring. Alongside the setting you also learn things about a part of the world you may not have heard of before. If like me you are interested in the setting or premise of this book, then read a guest post from the author on my blog about the inspiration behind the book.

The book opens and we meet Lucy. Written in the first person we immediately get inside her head. Her friend Cheri's body was recently found mutilated after she disappeared. After a furore in the town during the disappearance and subsequent discovery it seems to have now died down and people are moving on with their life. Before Cheri's murder it was the disappearance of Lucy's mother that was the biggest story in town. Alternating chapters introduce us to the character of Lila who just so happens to be Lucy's mother. I found it worked incredibly well having chapters from the POV of both characters and it wasn't hard to follow at all. We know Lucy's mother disappears but it's fascinating reading about her moving to the town and her attempt at trying to build a life there.

I was speechless at where this story went and I wasn't expecting it. If I'm honest the first couple of chapters I struggled with, but once the book got going I was gripped and wide awake long into the night unable to stop reading. It's impossible to even mention plot details here, what we have is an incredible and multilayered story wove to perfection by the author.

Overall the book feels very authentic. Not just in terms of setting but also the characterisation. In these remote or less populated places of the world the people that inhabit these areas are often very different to the people that inhabit major cities, they often have their own nuances, behaviours and belief systems and Laura definitely brought those out in each of the characters we read about in this book. Small towns also seem to band together more than big towns. The people know everyone else's business. Plenty of shocks and cover ups here. It's a book where you question every character you meet, you don't know who to trust and everybody has something to hide.

It was an interesting read and has left me wanting to find out more about the Ozarks. The writing here is superb, very descriptive and of a very high quality I'd say it's one of the best written books that I've read so far this year. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more from this author in the future. Also books which have elements based on true stories are always the more hard hitting for me and leave more of an emotional impact than a truly fictional story. Quite uncomfortable subjects discussed here but told in an intelligent and gripping way. Not a book to miss this one and very highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very gratuitously graphic and vile., 12 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Weight of Blood (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had to stop reading this book. Maybe it is just me, but I found the subject matter, which covered abduction and torture of children to be very disturbing and at times the author has been overly graphic in depicting the scene and I am actually quite shocked by the lack of sensitivity to such a subject and the cavalier approach of the writing. Also, that it is a female author who has written it, it is even more of a shock. It delves into the way people can close ranks to cover up atrocious things and yes, I am sure there is still a lot of that that really goes on, but still give it some sensitivity.

If you like graphic horror stories that involve abuse of children, then this is just the ticket, but it certainly is not my cup of tea thank you very much!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Ozarks, 21 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The story was not the mystery I was expecting as things became clear fairly early on in the book.

I found it difficult to believe that the population of this small backwater where people were all so suspicious of any newcomers would speak in the very middle class way that the author uses. I would have expected colloquialisms and local sayings. I found this way of speaking so unlikely that I hecked to see if she was an English author and was the surprised to discover that she had lived in the Ozarks for a time as a child.

I felt little empathy with the characters and because all suspense was gone I skimmed through the last few chapters.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars It got under my skin and I am glad that it did., 22 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Weight of Blood (Hardcover)
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh, was a pleasure to read from start to finish. This is not to say that the subject matter was pleasurable. Many of the plot lines dealt with situations that, although all may be aware happen, are easier to ignore. It was a small town society’s willingness to do this that was explored in excoriating detail.

The story is told over two time periods, with each chapter progressing through a different character’s perspective until the tales merge for the satisfying, if grim, denouement. Events kick off when a stranger arrives in a remote town that copes with transient tourists but will not welcome incomers who wish to stay. This antipathy enables the grisly events that unfold, and it soon becomes clear that protecting established families counts more than obeying the law.

The book lays bare the damage that can be caused when human weaknesses are normalised, accepted or simply overlooked for the sake of maintaining the status quo. With limited expectations for their future, the residents see as inevitable that men will act as they wish, and that it is easier to look the other way. When accidents happen they are cleaned up, gossiped over but rarely investigated. Truth is not something that is to be faced if it will cause trouble for those who must continue to live alongside the perpetrators. Asking too many questions is discouraged for fear of the fallout.

Into this web emerges a young girl, born and raised in the heart of the town, who has lost her friend and her mother in circumstances that nobody seems willing to discuss or explore. Determined to uncover what has happened, she enlists the help of a friend, and together they start to unravel a generation of secrets and unacknowledged truths.

From the first chapter I was hooked. The pace of the novel was perfect, the unfolding tale never ceasing to engage. Every word earned its place, moving the plot along effortlessly. Such seamless writing demonstrates the skill of the author, keeping this reader engrossed for the entire three hundred pages.

The tale was compelling and thought provoking, leaving me questioning how far I would go to help a stranger when rocking the boat could bring down an accepted way of life. It got under my skin and I am glad that it did.

This is quality writing, but more than that, it is story telling at its best.

My copy of this book was supplied gratis by the publisher, Hutchinson, via My Independent Bookshop rewards.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Weight of Blood
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh (Hardcover - 3 July 2014)
£13.48
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews