Tiffany D. Jackson returns with another brilliantly conceptualized novel, turning to horror in her latest book The Weight of Blood. A contemporary retelling of the classic horror novel Carrie, Tiffany D. Jackson reconceptualizes Stephen King’s original story in The Weight of Blood to center a biracial protagonist treated as an outcast in a racist town hosting its first interracial prom.
a brilliantly conceptualized Carrie retelling for the contemporary moment
It feels necessary to give a disclaimer for this review. Going into this book, I was not initially aware that it was a Carrie retelling. While I am familiar with the overall plot of the original story, I have not read Stephen King’s Carrie, and consequently will not focus on comparing the details of the work as a retelling in contrast to the original for this review. However, I will say that The Weight of Blood is brilliantly conceptualized—choosing a horror story centering a mistreated outcast in a small town leading to a prom gone very wrong to examine the persistence of racial injustices in the US was a cleverly creative angle on Jackson’s part.
a prom for the ages
Madison “Maddy” Washington has always been an outcast amongst her peers in their small Georgia town of Springville. Things aren’t much better at home with a religious zealot father who makes Maddy hide her black heritage as a white-passing biracial girl. Facing abuse at home and bullying at school, things only grow worse for Maddy when a rainy day exposes her as biracial in their racist town.
But when a video goes viral of Maddy being bullied and Springville High gets unwanted media attention for being discriminatory, the students host their first interracial prom to paint the picture of a progressive town. And what better way to do so than to have the school’s star quarterback ask the school’s outcast out to the prom? But with conflicting interests and several schemes afoot, Springville High’s first integrated prom doesn’t pan out in a way that anyone anticipates. . .
Maddy Did It
The Weight of Blood is told over several POVs, as well as through alternating timelines. The book shifts between the summer of 2014 in the weeks leading up to the bloody prom, and the review of events years later as chronicled on the episodes of a podcast titled Maddy Did It. While the podcast element was an interesting way of chronicling the aftermath and also provided some insight and background for the events that occur, at times it did feel a bit overdone. It felt like some of the podcast scenes could have been condensed or cut, especially as the book starts to slow in its pacing.
The alternating perspectives felt done in a unique way, which I appreciated. The pairing of the varying POVs and the podcast narration after the events of the story made the writing much more interesting. It was also interesting to see Tiffany D. Jackson’s writing style change to accommodate this story in contrast to the other book of hers that I have read, Grown.
Another thing I appreciated was the way Jackson centers the story in the contemporary moment to prevent readers from mistakenly isolating Springville as a uniquely backwards, racist small town. The story preserves an unmistakably modern feel and the social issues at its center feel undeniably persistent and contemporary. Many of the racist ideologies present in the book are still present—at times better hidden, but still very familiar.
Overall, Tiffany D. Jackson returns with another brilliantly conceptualized novel to prove horror an effective genre for addressing social issues. The Weight of Blood is a timely and well-written book that even readers who don’t consider horror their go-to genre can appreciate.
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson was published on September 6, 2022.