As The Weight of Lies publishes today, I’d like to wish Emily Carpenter a very happy publication day. This novel features one of my favourite concepts – a book within a book.
In this gripping, atmospheric family drama, a young woman investigates the forty-year-old murder that inspired her mother’s bestselling novel, and uncovers devastating truths—and dangerous lies.
Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.
Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.
Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.
The Weight of Lies is a heavy load to carry, and I mean that in a good way – everybody has secrets and Meg is realising just how far people will go to kept them safe. The above description of the plot is detailed enough so I won’t elaborate any further on it.
One of the things I really liked about this book was the mystery itself, I just couldn’t work it out. I loved that at the heart of this novel was a 40-year-old murder, the information about this murder (the way it was carried out and the lives of those involved) really reminded me of something you’d find in a classic crime novel. I liked the layers to this mystery and Carpenter uses a very clever structure to tell this tale.
In alternating chapters, we get snippets from Frances Ashley’s bestselling novel, Kitten; it took me a little while to make sense of these, mainly because they’re such little snippets at a time and between reading the longer chapters of current events, I’d often forget what had occurred previously in Kitten. As the main storyline developed and I had a good understanding of Kitten, I could then appreciate the horror influence it was building up to. I do think this book, especially the ending, has a strong horror influence, not in a scary way but the latter half of the book is definitely unsettling – I wish it had lasted longer. Bonny island is not somewhere I’m keen to go but I loved the gothic atmosphere it held and it was a wonderful choice of setting to thread a creepy vibe throughout this book.
I did feel the middle portion of the book went on for a tad too long and this caused my excitement for the plot twist to be less than it, perhaps, could have been. I’m not sure if Meg was meant to be likeable, once the reader looked past the “poor little rich girl” portrayal but I didn’t think she was, in fact, I didn’t really like any of the characters but in this type of novel it didn’t have a negative impact; I didn’t trust any of the characters and I didn’t think Meg should have either, it frustrated me sometimes that she did but for the kind of novel it is, I think it worked better that I disliked the characters.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one and I have no reservations recommending it; I have also added Carpenter’s debut novel, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, to my wishlist after reading this one.