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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 (564 )
5 star
 (177)
4 star
 (226)
3 star
 (118)
2 star
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1 star
 (14)
Overall
3.9 (504 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (8)
Story
4.1 (507 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (81)
2 star
 (25)
1 star
 (3)
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
    1
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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 2012

    S. Quire

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

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

    RueRue

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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
  •  
    Ann ARDMORE, TN, United States 11-27-14
    Ann ARDMORE, TN, United States 11-27-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good til the end"

    I enjoyed the story line and all the main characters. A lot. But then when we got to the end I found myself very disappointed that much of the mystery in the book never gets explained. No one comes to justice. The bad guys, of which I am never sure who all they are, just get to skate free. Or die by unknown methods.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Lantana, FL, United States 09-05-14
    Elizabeth Lantana, FL, United States 09-05-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Crazy family."
    Any additional comments?

    I love it when the books have more then one narrater to read the story, it become so much better to listen to!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    melissa Norwich, CT, United States 07-24-14
    melissa Norwich, CT, United States 07-24-14 Member Since 2012

    An avid reader who cherishes my time with a good book!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting but left me feeling a bit let down"

    This story was well-written and the narration was very good. I enjoyed the characters and the setting was very engaging and interesting. It moved a bit slow in places and I just felt let down by the ending, as if there should have been more closure for the characters. It was a decent read but I would be far more inclined to recommend Gone Girl.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie 07-18-14
    Bonnie 07-18-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Slow - boring - but I stuck to the end"

    The isolation of Henbane in the Ozarks, the helplessness of the characters, and the evil that leaked there could have been so much more but instead the story line was SLOW to the point of boring. I stuck to the end with high hopes but I would not recommend your wasting your time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Wallingford, CT, United States 07-02-14
    Susan Wallingford, CT, United States 07-02-14 Member Since 2011

    I spend a lot of time seeking out the perfect story worthy of my credit. I enjoy suspense thrillers w/ a kick of satire. I'm a picky listener.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    Story
    "Slow to go"
    Any additional comments?

    I guess it takes me 29% of the beginning to engage. This book was so slow it took me a while to realize that Lila and Lucy were the main characters. I did enjoy how the author summarized the dark trafficking plot in a light way. Would I read it again? No. Would you have to remind me about the details should it come up in a book club? Yes. Not a terrible read so it gets an average 3-stars all around. If you like the plot to unfold one character at a time, narrated by each character, then this is for you. It is worth a credit. Won't be a Hollywood movie though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kgw 05-24-14
    kgw 05-24-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Suspenseful story line"
    What made the experience of listening to The Weight of Blood the most enjoyable?

    I liked the parallel stories of the women. It took me a little bit to realize what was going on, and figuring it out was fun. I love a surprise.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Character development of Lucy, Lila and the other women.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When Lucy is told about her mother by Bertie.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    Great drive time story telling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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