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The Weight of Blood: A Novel | [Laura McHugh]

The Weight of Blood: A Novel

The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains. Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane's mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child. Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see.
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Audible Editor Reviews

"[A] suspenseful novel, with a barn burner of a plot…. McHugh shows herself to be a compelling writer intimately familiar with rural poverty and small-town weirdness." (Booklist)

Publisher's Summary

For fans of Gillian Flynn, Scott Smith, and Daniel Woodrell comes a gripping, suspenseful novel about two mysterious disappearances a generation apart.

The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains. Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane's mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child. Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see. Lucy's family has deep roots in the Ozarks, part of a community that is fiercely protective of its own. Yet despite her close ties to the land, and despite her family's influence, Lucy - darkly beautiful as her mother was - is always thought of by those around her as her mother's daughter. When Cheri disappears, Lucy is haunted by the two lost girls - the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't save - and sets out with the help of a local boy, Daniel, to uncover the mystery behind Cheri's death.

What Lucy discovers is a secret that pervades the secluded Missouri hills, and beyond that horrific revelation is a more personal one concerning what happened to her mother more than a decade earlier.

The Weight of Blood is an urgent look at the dark side of a bucolic landscape beyond the arm of the law, where a person can easily disappear without a trace. Laura McHugh proves herself a masterly storyteller who has created a harsh and tangled terrain as alive and unforgettable as the characters who inhabit it. Her mesmerizing debut is a compelling exploration of the meaning of family: the sacrifices we make, the secrets we keep, and the lengths to which we will go to protect the ones we love.

©2014 Laura McHugh (P)2014 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"In this clever, multilayered debut, McHugh deftly explores the past of an Ozark Mountain family… with plenty to hide and the ruthlessness to keep their secrets hidden…. This is an outstanding first novel, replete with suspense, crisp dialogue, and vivid Ozarks color and atmosphere." (Publishers Weekly)

"Debut novelist McHugh comes out swinging with this gripping tale set in the Ozarks of Missouri…. Her prose will not only keep readers turning the pages but also paints a real and believable portrait of the connections, alliances, and sacrifices that underpin rural, small-town life in Henbane." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (508 )
5 star
 (163)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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3.9 (454 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (456 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    John S MA 03-21-14
    John S MA 03-21-14 Member Since 2005

    Avid audible listener for over 10 years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    266
    ratings
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    Story
    "Not too bad but you have to pay attention."

    This is a good but not great book. There are two major characters and two plot lines so it gets confusing if you do not pay attention. The book jumps back and forth between the two just about every chapter so you have to figure out where you are in time. Since there is one narrator and she does not change her voice that much between the two women characters (mother and daughter) you find yourself trying to figure out what story line you are listening to. They are related but not the same. Most of the other characters are in both so it can be even more confusing. This might be better a better kindle than audible book for that reason.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    FanB14 03-24-14
    FanB14 03-24-14

    Short, Simple, No Spoilers

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Weighty Hype Unfulfilled"

    Lila came to Henbane under duplicitous circumstances, disappearing from a seemingly happy life. Present day daughter Lucy searches for clues to her friend's murder and mother's past. The characters in this backwoods, gritty story are well drawn out and McHugh's writing style is fluid and easy. The first 3/4 of the book kept my attention and enjoyed the narrator for Lila (Shanon McManus?). Lucy's story was mildly immature and didn't care for the narrator's voice. While waiting for the final big reveal, the book ended. Oops, hate it when that happens. Found this entertaining, but cannot hold a candle to "Winter's Bone".

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K 03-30-14
    K 03-30-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Winter's Bone & Gone Girl--NOT!"

    Okay, so the protagonist is a young girl living in the Ozarks. Long ago, her mother disappeared without explanation. Don't buy the hype -- while mildly entertaining, the quality of the writing, the sophistication of the plot (including way too much "young romance"), and the depth of character development compare poorly with Woodrell and Flynn. Not a BAD read, but setting up the listener to expect another Winter's Bone or Gone Girl didn't do McHugh any favors.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Atlanta, GA 03-24-14
    Amazon Customer Atlanta, GA 03-24-14 Member Since 2003

    ShootingFish

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Poor Man's "Winters Bone""

    Based on the reviews I thought this would be good. It's average at best. I don't see the hype about Ozarks as this could have been anywhere. Performance was so-so. I wouldn't recommend unless this was drastically on sale.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Iowa City, IA, United States 04-30-14
    Dan Iowa City, IA, United States 04-30-14 Member Since 2012

    btrangels

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "No Gillian Flynn"

    I've seen comparisons between this book and those written by Gillian Flynn. In my estimation there is simply no comparison. Except the references to Missouri. It was OK, but the story was not tight,and some characters seemed to dissolve from the narrative with no resolution. If someone really wants to get a sense of sourthern Missouri and the culture of the Ozarks they should read Daniel Woodrell. There is no one who captures it better.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 03-24-14
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 03-24-14 Member Since 2010

    Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Nancy Drew in the Ozarks"

    The author had an interesting premise for a mystery with a potentially atmospheric setting. But she failed to fulfill that promise through uneven pacing and mediocre character development. Using the mother-daughter narrative lines to relate two separate disappearances allowed us to experience the mysteries of both, but also formed a relentlessly symmetric feel to the whole, right down to the father-boyfriend connections. These four characters were so similar as to be interchangeable, and all of the supporting characters remained flat. There was no sense of time passing because the two story lines sounded exactly alike. Clues dropped too early placed the reader so far ahead in the plot that the effect was of impatience for the characters to catch up rather than feeling the tension of a plot thickening.

    There should have been a much darker tone to a story filled with such nasty goings-on in a region that is close minded and superstitious. Especially since the community supposedly thought of the first vanished woman as a witch, just because she appeared from the exotic planet of Iowa. But the tone was not dark, and the residents of the small town just came across as rude, not fearfully superstitious. At one point as Lucy is digging into her mother’s mystery, she made a “Nancy Drew” reference to herself, and that encapsulated what I found wrong with this story – a YA level plot trying to be grown up. I pushed through to the end, but it felt like a push with an ultimately disappointing ending.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Louisville, KY, United States 05-04-14
    Jennifer Louisville, KY, United States 05-04-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyble read!"
    Would you listen to The Weight of Blood again? Why?

    Yes! I finished QUICK because once I got about halfway through, I couldn't put it down!!!


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John tallevast, FL, United States 03-22-14
    John tallevast, FL, United States 03-22-14 Member Since 2011

    List of favorite books: Woodcutter - Reginald Hill, Consent to Kill, First Deadly Sin - Lawrence Sanders, Sniper Elite - Scott McEwen

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I am a fan of Gillian Flynn and now a fan of Laura"

    I know I'm not right in the head sometimes because I really enjoy the dark twisty stuff in this novel and the mystery that unfolds. I like the back and forth story telling that eventually comes together. I am a big fan of Gillian Flynns and though this novel isn't as dark as Dark Places or Sharp Objects - It is definitely a good story.

    J

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elkay 03-15-14
    Elkay 03-15-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Intriguing"

    This story is fascinating and suspenseful, and I enjoyed it, but the end left me feeling a little unsatisfied. The plot resolves about 3/4 of the way through, but it takes a while to realize, "Oh, that's it then." The last quarter feels like another major revelation should occur - instead, things simply wind down and the book ends.

    This is still a good read, with well-drawn characters, a compelling plot, and lovely writing. Happy I took a chance on this.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    anne RICHMOND, CA, United States 07-24-14
    anne RICHMOND, CA, United States 07-24-14 Member Since 2011

    Artist, publisher/editor

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hoped for southern gothic got Nancy Drew instead"

    I listend to it all the way through so it kept me in my seat painting hours which is what I needed to accomplish but the description had me hoping for more of a Southern Gothic flavor with the Ozarks and the dark family history. The ingredients were all there: the characters, the setting, the backstories... but it's not in the writing. I didn't feel any sense of atmosphere or dread. I Wasn't looking for horror but I can't explain without sounding like a pretentious jerk. It just didn't feel as 'dark' as I was hoping for considering the selling points in the description and title.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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