Deep in the Ozark Mountains is the town of Henbane and if you are stranger to these parts, don’t plan on staying. People in this area, don’t tend to appreciate or welcome strangers. Lila has been part of the foster system since her parents died and she just needed a job for a couple years to make some money. A month later, Lila found herself sitting on a Greyhound bus holding a signed 2 year contract for a live-in position in Henbane. Her new home would be a garage supplied with the bare necessaries, and I mean bare. Thinking her new life would consist of cleaning and cooking, Lila did not expect to meet up with the likings of Crete. Crete seemed like the perfect gentlemen but the noise around town is different and no one messed with Crete. Lucy lives with her father who travels a lot for work. Birdie checks in on Lucy just in case she needs anything. Lucy’s mother disappeared when she was a child leaving individuals speculating exactly what happened to her. When the pieces of Cheri Stoddard’s body appears, stuffed inside a tree, Lucy becomes fixated on solving the mystery of Cheri’s disappearance and murder. Lucy never considered herself a childhood friend of Cheri’s but in Cheri’s eyes, Lucy was her only friend. As Lucy tries to uncover the mystery, she begins to wonder if the two disappearances aren’t related. Trying to conceal her investigation, without upsetting the balance in this small chattering town, is quite difficult work for Lucy. As the plot thickens and you get to know more about the community of Henbane, you get drawn in and you see the layers of the town building.
Told in alternating chapters at first, you get the story from Lucy’s and Lila’s viewpoint and then later in the book other chapters are titled with other characters from the story. The thickening of the story and the layers of the story made the story fascinating to me, pulling me forward making me want to put the pieces together. As Lucy does her investigative work, you can feel the tension in the air and the anxiety building for all the parties involved and I wanted to read faster yet I didn’t want to skip any important details. Poor Lila too. She had such high dreams and yet her circumstances when she arrived just keep getting cloudier and cloudier. Then when she met Carl, a light was lit. I found myself yelling at the book and covering my mouth with my hand, daring myself to read on. I wanted to know more yet I knew the other characters motives and personalities and what lied ahead, might not be the best results. The bond in the community and within the family was portrayed and written so well. There was something about the dialogue in this book that also impressed me. I don’t usually comment on this but I thought it was done extremely well. Great flow and exemplified more of the characters individualism. Great debut by Laura and can’t wait to see more of her writings.
Thank you NetGalley and Laura McHugh for the copy of this book.