THE WEIGHT OF LIES by Emily Carpenter
Lake Union; 6/6/17
CBTB Rating: 4.5/5
The Verdict: addictive psychological suspense + cult-classic horror nostalgia
THE WEIGHT OF LIES might just be my perfect summer crime book. In this engaging, fast-paced psychological suspense novel, author Emily Carpenter blends the best of psychological thrillers with a unique touch of horror nostalgia. THE WEIGHT OF LIES isn't a horror novel itself, but its cultural references and moments of cinematic suspense feel straight from the big screen. Love classic horror movies like Friday the 13th and Halloween, but want to read something a little less dark and gory on your summer vacation? This recommendation is for you. THE WEIGHT OF LIES serves up a welcome dose of nostalgia for those horror classics, wrapped up in a contemporary psychological thriller package.
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.
There’s a whole lot to love about THE WEIGHT OF LIES, but my personal favorite element of this addictive story is its modern, fresh ode to classic horror. I want to emphasize that this book is NOT a horror novel in and of itself—don’t pick this book up if that’s the kind of read you’re looking for. On the other hand, this book IS a very of-the-moment psychological thriller that pays homage to the horror genre-defining greats. More than anything else, THE WEIGHT OF LIES is pure entertainment: it's a fresh twist on the psychological suspense novel, complete with a deliciously creepy atmosphere (a run-down hotel on a mostly-uninhabited island), a cast of suspicious characters, and a book-within-a-book mystery to solve.
THE WEIGHT OF LIES follows Meg, the daughter of an author who, a few decades earlier, wrote a horror novel that has since become a cult classic: Kitten. As Meg begins to look into her mom’s past, she finds herself drawn into the world of Kitten—from the real-life events that inspired it to the legions of fans who have devoted themselves to her mother’s work. Our main character finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the maze that is her mother’s past, and I was completely along for the ride as she pieced together the real-life backstory of her mother’s fictional bestseller. Not only does this book delve into the details of what inspired Kitten, but the main narrative has horror-inspired elements of its own, from its vivid backdrop to its cinematic final showdown.
Speaking of Kitten—another element of THE WEIGHT OF LIES that stood out to me comes in the form of “chapter excerpts” from Kitten interspersed throughout the main narrative. I loved watching the parallel development of these “chapter excerpts” and the main plot. I also have to acknowledge what a great job Carpenter did of writing these “chapter excerpts” in a voice that’s wholly believable. These excerpts really do sound like they’ve come from a decades-old horror novel—they have that certain atmosphere and tone that allowed me to picture them playing out on the big screen in a slightly-dated book-to-movie adaptation. I loved them.
THE WEIGHT OF LIES might not be gory or very dark, but it serves up just the right balance of fast-paced, binge-worthy writing with lighter suspense and tension. Readers who are nervous about digging into a horror novel will have no problem with this book—yes, it has suspenseful scenes, but it’s not going to give you nightmares, as it definitely doesn't qualify as a horror novel itself. I absolutely devoured this book, and literally had to stop myself from reading too quickly because I didn’t want it to end! THE WEIGHT OF LIES is pure entertainment: it’s gripping, addictive, accessible, and wholly entertaining. Add this book to your summer reading list!
Paperback: 380 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (June 6, 2017)
Find THE WEIGHT OF LIES on Amazon.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.