The Weight of Lies: A Novel by Emily Carpenter



I saw my own meanness and desperation for her to erase the past. As we stood there, eyes blazing, pulses racing, the inevitability of it all became clear. When the two of us came into contact, we were always going to do this- react like incompatible chemicals in a lab experiment. Sizzle. Spark, Then explode.

Meg Ashley is the daughter of the author Frances Ashley, whose best selling horror novel decades old may or may not be true. As with all things Frances, cold, distant, manipulative, selfish- what is true and what is imagined is impossible to decipher. Growing up in the shadow of her fame, but in a life of privilege afforded because of her cult classic novel, Meg’s childhood was lonely and at times far too adult and damaging. After three ‘Frances Free’ years, she has to face her mother. When she receives a party invitation, she decides to show up and is given an offer she cannot refuse. Write a tell all, exposing all her mother’s ugliest truths. So she must go back to the source of inspiration for her mother’s novel, Bonny Island, Georgia. Time to show the world the real Frances, if the fans want dirt, it’s dirt they shall get!

Excavating the secrets of the island, and the woman (Doro) whose life her mother destroyed, she must sift through the fiction and facts. But the woman she meets is nothing like the creepy child killer in the book. She is strong, warm, welcoming despite the horror story setting of the place. Finally reading the book her mother penned, while staying in the place is doing things to her mind. The lies her mother told crumble against the memories Doro shares, the questions she answers. The story has excerpts from the original horror story about Kitten, taking the reader into the eerie child killer. One who may or may not be Doro. If Kitten was strange, Doro comes off as more unique, fascinating. How could her mother destroy her entire life? She was just a little girl, in awe of Meg’s mother. As she pokes at the old real murder that occurred on the island, she discovers things that don’t sit right. Throw in some romance with Kao, with his own secrets, unsure if she can trust him when true terror overtakes her and you have one strange story. Passion, fear, facing ones strengths and weaknesses. With Wild horses running on the island, wild stories and lies, the atmosphere is fitting.

Everyone is damaged, you don’t know who to trust. Meg’s and Frances relationship is never really settled for me, not even at the end. I can’t going into why I think Meg’s cold mother doesn’t make sense knowing the full story without giving away the ending. Doro I wonder about too. Can all these people with wildness inside of them really be this controlled? The Kitten story at times bothered me, it’s a personal thing. I don’t like stories within stories, as it sort of breaks into the flow. I actually see Meg as not selfish so much as weakened by her life of privilege. I imagine it would be hard to step out of your famous mother’s shadow, to be strong and independent when you’ve never learned how to be. Money can be as great a manipulator as any abuse. She is a fledgling that never learned to fly, ¬†longing to flee her cold mother but without the confidence to do so. There are a lot of people out there that grow accustomed to control. It makes sense to me that she is still clinging to her mother’s support while pushing her mother away. It’s also why she falls for Doro in a sense, who has a natural way about her, a much warmer nature- or does she?

Revenge somehow has a way of pulling the avenger down too. Was Frances’s novel truth disguised as fiction, a way to show events as they really played out, the only way to expose Doro? Or is Frances more twisted than her evil character? The story is twisted and strange. I had to finish the novel, but I started to figure a few things out. It’s a good mystery/horror without being terrifying. It’s not all about the murder, there are parts of the book about Meg’s youth and love affair with an older man, exposing how in some ways she grew up too fast, wasn’t mothered properly despite all the wealth. Why are we less likely to feel bad for rich people? I know, sadness is less painful minus poverty, but let’s face it, abuse sucks for everyone regardless of financial status.

Available Now

Lake Union Publishing



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