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.
It's been quite awhile since I've reviewed a book on here, but after spending a frenzied, sleepless day and night poring over Emily Carpenter's second offering, I just had to get my thoughts down on paper. The Weight of Lies was quite a ride!
Emily Carpenter knows how to tackle a doozy of a tale. She appears to plot rigorously before settling into writing, making sure there are well-hidden clues throughout the piece that make the end all the more satisfying.
This book goes back and forth between sections of a book called Kitten, written by main character Meg's mother, Frances Ashley, and the present-day. Meg's mother wrote the book based on a real life murder that took place on Bonny Island where Frances spent a summer when she was nineteen. The character of Kitten is even based on a little girl named Dorothy whose father owned the hotel at the time.
As the fortieth anniversary of the best seller looms on the horizon, a book editor approaches Meg to write a tell-all about her tortured life with her mother, a Mommie Dearest-type. Meg's early twenty-something angst takes over and she agrees to share her childhood with the Kitten Cult readers. In order to learn more about her mother's time on island, she contacts adult Dorothy ("Doro"), who now owns the hotel, and descends on the island, eager to learn everything she can about what truly happened back in the 1970's. Was Doro truly the murderer as the book and Kitten Cultists suspect, or was it Frances herself? The deeper Meg descends into the mystery, sorting fact from fiction, the more she discovers about her mother and about herself.
The characters of Meg, Frances and Doro aren't short on dimension. Their mannerisms, back histories and the way they intertwine are all satisfyingly explored in the book. I loved that each chapter started with a paragraph from the book, Kitten, giving the reader a glimpse of the fictional account of the events surrounding the murder. Present-day events soon followed, giving the reader more pieces of the puzzle, sometimes contradictory to the information in Kitten. It truly is a Who-Dunnit until the very end, although I suspected things weren't as natural as they seemed with one of the characters.
I felt that the author tried to fit in too many twists involving too many characters. Almost every single character in the story had some kind of unknown-to-the-reader motive for being on Bonny Island. In my opinion, Koa's, in particular, seemed a bit of a stretch and without a ton of explanation, as did Koa as a character. He was very 1-dimensional. At the end of the book, you know what his goal in coming to the island was, but it didn't have a strong hold on me. There needed to be more depth to that storyline.
A couple of things were a bit far-reaching, like the lead poisoning, but I liked the book so much to gloss over those parts.
I've put a SPOILER warning on the information below the break. The plot will not be revealed, however reading below will give you one piece of insignificant information about two of the characters. I just wanted to mention my dislike.
The Koa Romance: Did we really even need that? Again, I felt like the author tried to fit in a romance where a romance shouldn't have been. I personally wasn't feeling the Meg/Koa vibe, and I certainly wasn't buying the "I love you" that came at the end of the book. It felt contrived, forced and unnatural. A 3-dimensional character like Meg shouldn't fall in love with 1-dimension Koa.