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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

3.9 (712 )
5 star
 (214)
4 star
 (291)
3 star
 (154)
2 star
 (34)
1 star
 (19)
Overall
3.9 (631 )
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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Story
4.1 (633 )
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
 (6)
Performance
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  •  
    Jeff Schuster Highlands Ranch, CO USA 10-23-14
    Jeff Schuster Highlands Ranch, CO USA 10-23-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Not What I Expected"

    I had just listened to Sycamore Row by John Grisham and thought that this would be a similarly suspenseful novel. I was disappointed. At first I was confused between the two characters of Lila (mom) and Lucy (daughter). The author may have helped by picking two names that were not so similar. The story is being told with two different time frames in parallel. I was also disappointed with the ending although I cannot give it away. There was not one character that I felt was an actual hero in this story. They all just lacked a certain degree of backbone.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane 07-16-14
    Diane 07-16-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "YA Novel with grown up pretensions"
    What disappointed you about The Weight of Blood?

    At first I was drawn into the story; however, it quickly developed into a YA novel with grownup crimes. The teenage romance was boring. I felt as if I was reading Nancy Drew discovers sex crimes. Also, I found it hard to detemine the time frame of the actions: when was Lila the victim; when is Lucy a teenager? The ending was very deus ex machina - a tornado which blows away all the loose ends. I would not recommend this to any of my reading group.


    What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

    The persistent little girl voice that seem to dominate all the characters.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I think the author has talent. However, this book was marketed as a mystery/thriller/gothic and I just got young adult / teenage angst.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W Perry Hall 03-16-14 Member Since 2015

    Easy Writer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    143
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    Story
    "Uncle Creep's Mountain Girls"

    Ms. McHugh has written an excellent first novel, a story told from the perspective of multiple narrators, but primarily by a mother and a daughter, with related story lines 17 years apart in time. The novel has one of the most despicable villains in all of recent literature.

    The eponymous quote:
    "You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family. There's no forsaking kin but you can't help when kin forsakes you or when strangers come to be family."
    *****

    Using a suspicious mountain town with an incredibly seedy underside as her backdrop, I believe Ms. McHugh accomplished exactly and outstandingly what she intended. Blood versus Heart. Two female protagonists related to ambiguous, weak-spined male thread to villain (one by blood, one by marriage), playing with the variations in between, including the exploitation of young females.

    The main characters are pretty well developed, but the story and the structure win the day here.

    I'd say 4.5 stars, but I'll give it 5 because I didn't want to stop listening before I finished and I was sorry that it ended.

    The narrators were all top notch.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marjorie Santa Rosa, CA, United States 03-23-14
    Marjorie Santa Rosa, CA, United States 03-23-14 Member Since 2015

    Life's good when I am listening to a great book.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    84
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    "Good Mystery; Just a Little Juvenile"

    I enjoyed the narration of this book, the voices were easy to listen to and understand with good pacing. It took me some time, however, to sort out who was who in the beginning and after about two hours when I finally figured out what was going on, I went back and listened to many parts to solidify what I had missed when I was trying to place what was happening in the story. After that, the book was very good as the teen-age (19 year old) protagonist was working to solve two mysteries, the death of her friend and then the death of her mother. The mystery became involved and suspenseful keeping me interested and impressed with the author's ability to create such an intricate tale. Unfortunately, I felt the ending was a bit disappointing but will leave that up to you to decide. This book could be for a teen or young adult audience but works for adults too. If there was a 3.8, I would have given that but there isn't and the storyline was not quite good enough to make a 4 for me.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RueRue 03-14-14
    RueRue 03-14-14

    RueRue

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    263
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    Story
    "Suspenseful coming-of-age story"
    Where does The Weight of Blood rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was a very good audiobook, definitely a "page turner". I liked the use of (3) narrators, although I wish the voices had been a little more distinctive. It was difficult to discern which narrator was speaking. Fortunately, the book chapters are labeled by each narrators name. Otherwise, I would have struggled to know who was telling the story.


    What other book might you compare The Weight of Blood to and why?

    This story reminded me very much of "Ruby Red Heart in the Cold Blue Sea". Very similar story ( teenage girl loses mother early in life under mysterious circumstances ). If you liked this, check out RRH....


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Tuscaloosa, AL, United States 03-18-14
    Linda Tuscaloosa, AL, United States 03-18-14 Member Since 2012

    Nurse, mom, loved to read....but now I love to listen. When I retire I hope to hear waves crashing in 1 ear and audible in the other!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    151
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    "Just WOW......."

    I tried to come up with an eyecatching headline but this book has so much it wouldn't fit. First the story, intense and thrilling, it gave me palpitations. Second, the writing, beautiful, descriptive and melodic, I can picture every tree, clapboard on the old houses, gardens and dark areas that I won't give away. Lastly, the narration, primarily told by mother and daughter, I didn't realize this until midway through part one. I already love Sofia Willingham and the others did a great job too. This is the first book in a long time I wanted to relisten to immediately upon finishing it. I highly recommend.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Broadwell 07-16-15 Member Since 2004

    catsintheattic

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well structured"

    I love the way this book built the story. There were some neat surprises along the way, and enough mystery to keep it interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ashley evans 05-24-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Narration/Good Story"

    A nice departure from the usual murder mysteries. Interesting characters and well executed narration /storytelling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JACNKC Kansas City, MO, USA 03-19-15
    JACNKC Kansas City, MO, USA 03-19-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
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    6
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good short suspense thriller"

    It was a interesting story with a few unexpected twists. I loved learning with Lucy who her mother was and why some of the characters rough outer shell was formed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N 03-03-15
    N 03-03-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Good story but not my type of book"

    The use of "local language" set the tone of the Ozark area I suppose, however it got old.
    The story certainly made you evaluate your life and family. How far would you go?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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