The Weight Of Blood: A Novel by Laura MchughThe Weight Of Blood: A Novel by Laura Mchughsticker-burst

The Weight Of Blood: A Novel

byLaura Mchugh

Paperback | January 6, 2015

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

INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS AWARD WINNER AND BARRY AWARD NOMINEE FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BOOKPAGE
 
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.
 
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
“[An] expertly crafted thriller.”Entertainment Weekly, “The Must List”
 
“Haunting . . . [a] riveting debut.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Laura McHugh’s atmospheric debut . . . conjures a menacingly beautiful Ozark setting and a nest of poisonous family secrets reminiscent of Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone.”—Vogue
 
“Fantastic . . . a mile-a-minute thriller.”The Dallas Morning News
 
“Gripping . . . 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. . . . Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy thrillers by authors such as Laura Lippman and Tana French.”—Library Journal (starred review)
 
“The sinister tone builds relentlessly.”—The Plain Dealer
 
“Rich in character and atmosphere . . . This is one you won’t want to miss.”—Karin Slaughter
 
“Daniel Woodrell better watch his back. . . . Weight of Blood is a tense, taut novel and a truly remarkable debut. . . . A suspenseful thrill ride that satisfies in all the right ways.”BookPage
Laura McHugh lives in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband and children. The Weight of Blood is her first novel.
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Title:The Weight Of Blood: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8 × 5.17 × 0.67 inPublished:January 6, 2015Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0812985338

ISBN - 13:9780812985337

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such a great suspense story and page turner! This was a very well written novel. It was very detailed so you get a great understanding and image of the characters, locations, situations taking place etc. Full of suspense and a great read! I would recommend!
Date published: 2017-08-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Full of suspense and a great read! I would recommend! This was a very well written novel. It was very detailed so you get a great understanding and image of the characters, locations, situations taking place etc.
Date published: 2017-08-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Above average Lucy’s mother Lila went missing when she was a toddler and neither she nor her father ever got over the loss. There is talk amongst the community members that Lila had committed suicide, but her body was never found. And just recently, another local girl, who was a friend of Lucy’s, has gone missing. But this time her body was found and it was definitely murder. So there are two mysteries for Lucy to solve, one from the present, and one from the past. Are they connected? Or coincidental? I liked the multiple perspective aspect of this book. It was a seamless way to provide back-up information for the reader with regard to both Lucy and Lila. There was a good build up of suspense, but unfortunately for me, the ending fell a bit flat. Overall, I liked this book. I liked it much better until the ending. 4 stars.
Date published: 2017-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Atmospheric Well written. Great sense of atmosphere.
Date published: 2017-07-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A tad bit slow Starts off slow but picks up mid-way with a good plot.
Date published: 2017-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant debut This wasn't so much a convoluted mystery as it was a diabolical one. The usual mysterious elements were all there - just not as many twists and turns (which in no way lessened the impact of the story). An excellent debut novel and an entertaining read by a wonderful new author.
Date published: 2017-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic right from the start! From the moment I picked this one up, I just couldn't put it down. I was hooked! It's incredibly suspenseful and has just enough of a mysterious edge to keep you guessing until the end. It was a wonderful read that I'd recommend to anyone.
Date published: 2017-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You won't be able to put this one down! I rarely focus enough to finish a book in a day, but once I started reading this one, I couldn't stop! 11/10 would recommend for anyone who likes suspense, unpredictability, and great writing!
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Weight of Blood I enjoyed reading this book, although it covered some horrific topics. I would recommend reading The Weight of Blood. The point of view often changed, and allowed you to see a little deeper into the story without revealing the end.
Date published: 2017-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved this book the story and characters stuck with me long after i finished this story. It's heartbreaking. It also deals with a subject that's not often discussed or tackled. There were uncomfortable parts in the story but they only strengthened it.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Goodending This Book was slow in the beginning, it picked up towards the end. Overall enjoyed it. Good pick.
Date published: 2017-01-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Predictably boring This book wasn't nearly as thrilling or suspenseful as a Gillian Flynn novel, as the description implied. There were two mysteries running through the book: Cheri's murder, and Lila's (Lucy's mom) disappearance in the past. Maybe I've read too many murder mystery books this summer but I guessed the end of both mysteries pretty early on. It wasn't very suspenseful and every "clue" that Lucy found out pointed you right to the answers rather than throwing you off track. That's not to say it wasn't a good read, it was quick and easy and you still wanted to find out the ending for sure even if you'd already figured it out. I would recommend it to those who like murder mystery but don't read the genre often enough to see it was a easy ending.
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read.. The story, the character depth, and the changing point of views all make this story so addicting. I want more like this!!
Date published: 2016-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exciting! I loved this book.I read through it in just over a day. The character development was excellent, and the twists and turns in the story kept me guessing.
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really got into it! I'm just new to the reading scene so I actually picked this book by random while at Chapters one day. I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, almost couldn't put it down. It's a great easy read for anyone (like myself) who are just starting to get into books/novels, I can for sure recommend this one.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Wight of Blood Not what I was expecting, but I still enjoyed this book. It was a little predictable, but made for a good, quick read.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unexpected delight Not the type of book I usually would choose for myself - it was given as a gift. I read through it in a single sitti g though and absolutely enjoyed it!
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Read! Interesting storyline with complicated characters. An easy and fast read. Heather as usually is great with her picks. I enjoyed the book.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I truly enjoyed this book Beautiful story of how the past and what we believe happened rather the truth can alter the present
Date published: 2016-10-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from LOVED this book! I read this book last summer and couldn't put it down! great read and the suspense just kept building! Great beach read!
Date published: 2016-04-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fast Read It is an engaging story and a fast paced read, a bit predictable in parts but I enjoyed the book overall, great debut novel.
Date published: 2015-05-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read! This was an engaging read. Nicely written for a debut novel. Interesting handling of a very disturbing topic.
Date published: 2015-02-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Gripping yet disturbing! This book had me from the beginning. Great read and at times I had to keep myself from jumping ahead to end the suspense. Maybe now that I finished book, I can get something done.
Date published: 2014-08-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The weight of blood, Good read.hard to put down untill finished
Date published: 2014-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page turner This book reminded me of Gone Girl, although it didn't surprise the reader the way Gone Girl did. This was a book you want to read on a rainy long weekend or by the pool. It will hold you interest and keep you awake until you turn that last page...and be sad when you close the book...is it really over so soon?
Date published: 2014-06-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The weight of blood I so enjoyed this book :-)
Date published: 2014-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Weight Of Blood Very good mystery :-)
Date published: 2014-05-28

Read from the Book

Chapter 1LucyThat Cheri Stoddard was found at all was the thing that set people on edge, even more so than the condition of her body. One Saturday in March, fog crept through the river valley and froze overnight. The morning sun crackled over a ghostly landscape across the road from my uncle’s general store, the burr oaks that leaned out over the banks of the North Fork River crystallized with a thick crust of hoarfrost. The tree nearest the road was dead, half-hollow, and it leaned farther than the rest, balanced at a precarious angle above the water. A trio of vultures roosted in the branches, according to Buddy Snell, a photographer for the Ozark County Record. Buddy snapped pictures of the tree, the stark contrast of black birds on white branches, for lack of anything better to print on the front page of the paper. It was eerie, he said. Haunting, almost. He moved closer, kneeling at the water’s edge to get a more interesting angle, and that was when he spied the long brown braid drifting in the shallows, barely visible among the stones. Then he saw Cheri’s head, snagged on a piece of driftwood: her freckled face, abbreviated nose, eyes spaced too wide to be pretty. Stuffed into the hollow of the tree were the rest of Cheri’s pieces, her skin etched with burns and amateur tattoos. Her flesh was unmarked when she disappeared, and I wondered if those new scars could explain what had happened to her, if they formed a cryptic map of the time she’d spent missing. Cheri was eighteen when she died, one year older than me. We’d lived down the road from each other since grade school, and she’d wander over to my house to play whenever she felt like it and stay until my dad made her leave. She especially liked my Barbies because she didn’t have any dolls of her own, and we’d spend all day building little houses for them out in the woodpile, making swimming pools with the hose. Her mom never once called or came looking for her, not even the time I hid her in my closet so she could stay overnight. My dad found out the next morning and started hollering at us, but then he looked at Cheri, tears dripping off her face as she wolfed down the frozen waffles I’d made her, and he shut up and fried us some bacon. He waited until she finished eating and crying before giving her a ride back home.Kids at school--including my best friend, Bess--thought Cheri was weird and didn’t want to play with her. I knew Cheri was slow, but I didn’t realize there was actually something different about her until fourth or fifth grade, when she disappeared into the special ed class for most of the day. Newspaper articles after the murder described her as “deficient” or “developmentally disabled,” with the mental capacity of a ten-year-old. We weren’t as close in high school--I’d outgrown her in certain ways and spent most of my time with Bess--but we still shared a bus stop at the fork of Toad Holler Road, and she was always there first, sitting on a log under the persimmon trees, smoking cigarettes she’d steal from her mother and picking at her various scabs. She always offered me a cigarette if she had one to spare. I didn’t know how to inhale, and she probably didn’t, either, but we sat there every morning, elbow to elbow, talking and laughing in a cloud of smoke.One morning I beat Cheri to the bus stop. I got worried when the bus rumbled up the dirt road and she still wasn’t there, because her mom always sent her to school, sick or not, if only to get her out of the way. Days passed with no sign of her, so I walked through the woods to her mom’s trailer and knocked and knocked, but nobody answered. There were rumors she’d dropped out of school, and when somebody from the county finally went to check it out, Doris Stoddard said her daughter had run away. She hadn’t reported her missing because she figured she would come back.Flyers were posted in shopwindows around town, and I taped several up at my uncle’s store, Dane’s, which had been in our family for generations. Above Cheri’s picture, in thick black print, was the word runaway. I wasn’t convinced that she’d left on her own, but no one shared my concern. In time, the flyers faded and curled, and when they came down, no new ones went up in their place.A year passed between Cheri’s disappearance and her murder, and during that time hardly anybody spoke of her. It felt like nobody missed her besides me. But as soon as her body turned up, it was all anybody could talk about. It was the biggest news to hit our tiny town of Henbane in years. Camera crews arrived in hordes, parking their vans by the river to get a shot of the tree, which had sprouted a modest memorial of stuffed animals and flowers. They barged into Dane’s demanding coffee and Red Bull and complaining about the roads and poor cellphone service. People who had ignored Cheri while she was alive were suddenly eager to share their connections to the now-famous dead girl. I used to sit behind her in health class. . . . She rode on my tractor one year in the Christmas parade. . . . I was there that time she threw up on the bus.The whole town jittered with nervous speculation, wondering where she’d been for that missing year and why she’d turned up now. It was common knowledge that in the hills, with infinite hiding places, bodies disappeared. They were fed to hogs or buried in the woods or dropped into abandoned wells. They were not dismembered and set out on display. It just wasn’t how things were done. It was that lack of adherence to custom that seemed to frighten people the most. Why would someone risk getting caught to show us what he’d done to Cheri when it would’ve been so easy to keep her body hidden? The only reasonable explanation was that an outsider was responsible, and outsiders bred fear in a way no homegrown criminal could.In the wake of Cheri’s murder, Meyer’s Hardware ran out of locks and ammunition. Few people went out after dark, and those who did were armed with shotguns. My dad took precautions, too. He worked construction jobs where he could get them, usually a couple hours away in Springfield or Branson, and he had been letting me stay home alone a couple days at a time while he was gone. After Cheri’s body was found, he went back to driving the round-trip every day, spending hours on the road so he could be home with me at night.I replayed our mornings together, Cheri’s and mine, sifted through our last conversations. She’d talked mostly about her “boyfriends,” pervs who hung around her mom’s trailer and told her she was pretty and tried to feel her up. Boys our age, the ones at school, were cruel. They called her a retard and made her cry. I told her to ignore them, but I never told them to stop, and that’s what I remembered when Cheri’s body turned up in the tree: the ways I had failed her. Like how I’d been her best friend but she wasn’t mine. How I’d worried something bad might have happened when she went missing, but I didn’t do anything about it. All the way back to when we were little, me being less of a friend than she thought I was. I gave her my Happy Holidays Barbie, not because it was her favorite but because I had ruined its hair.Spring was short-lived. The hills were ecstatic with blooms, an embarrassing wealth of trees and wildflowers: dogwoods in cream and pink, clouds of bright lavender redbuds, carpets of phlox and toothwort and buttercups. Then the leaves filled out the canopy, draping the woods in shadow. The vines and underbrush greened and resumed their constant creeping, and the heat blossomed into a living thing, its unwanted hands upon us at all times. Cheri had been buried at Baptist Grove in a child’s casket--which was cheaper and plenty big to hold what was left of her--but I couldn’t stop thinking about her, how she’d shared so much with me but hadn’t said a word about running away.By the end of May, there were no real leads in Cheri’s case. Everybody in town still talked about the murder, arguing about whether the tree where she was found should be cut down or turned into some type of memorial, though most folks had gone back to their normal routines. Dad got tired of his daily commute and went back to leaving me alone for a day or two while he worked. As time passed, it seemed less and less likely that what happened to Cheri would happen to anyone else.The shock and fear over Cheri’s death had faded to the point that kids joked about it at school. Most of my classmates thought Mr. Girardi, our former art teacher, had killed her, despite his alibi. He had returned to Chicago around the time Cheri disappeared, having lasted less than a semester in Henbane. Back then, kids gossiped that Cheri had run away with him, that he was hot for retarded girls. Why else, they asked, would he have encouraged her pathetic attempts in class or let her eat lunch in the art room?Mr. Girardi had been doomed from the start for the simple fact that he wasn’t a native, but he made it worse every time he opened his mouth. He didn’t know that a haint was a ghost or that puny meant sick or that holler was the way we said hollow. Ah! he said when he figured it out. So a holler is like a valley! When a kid in class welcomed him to God’s country, Mr. Girardi wondered aloud why the churches in God’s country were outnumbered by monuments to the devil. It was true: the spiny ridge of Devil’s Backbone, the bottomless gorge of Devil’s Throat, the spring bubbling forth from the Devil’s Eye--his very anatomy worked into the grit of the landscape. Mr. Girardi spent an entire class period comparing Henbane to paintings of hell. The land was rocky and gummed with red clay, the thorny underbrush populated by all manner of biting, stinging beasts. The roads twisted in on themselves like intestines. The heat sucked the breath from your chest. Even the name, he’d said before being fired for showing us a Bosch, which was full of boobs, Henbane. Another name for nightshade--the devil’s weed. He’s everywhere. He’s all around you.I’d felt sorry for Mr. Girardi because he didn’t understand why everyone treated him like a trespasser. Tourists came through on the river, but strangers rarely moved to town, and they naturally aroused suspicion. Even though I’d lived in Henbane all my life--had been born in the clapboard house my grandpa Dane built not a mile from the North Fork River--no one could forget that my mother was a foreigner, that she had come from someplace else, even if that place was only Iowa. Some folks didn’t think it possible that the cornfields and snowdrifts of the North had produced a creature as mysterious as my mother, so they had crafted origin myths involving Gypsies and wolves. As a kid, I didn’t know if such things could be true, so I’d studied photographs of her, seeking proof of their claims. Was her long black hair evidence of Gypsy blood? Did her ice-green eyes spring from a wolf? I had to admit there was a hint of something exotic in her olive skin, the fullness of her mouth, the wideness of her eyes. I’d read somewhere that beauty could be measured by scientific means, calculated in symmetry and distance, scale of features and angles of bone. Certainly my mother was beautiful, but beauty alone couldn’t account for the effect she’d had on our small town. There was something deep-rooted, intangible, that the pictures couldn’t quite grasp.Part of it was that they didn’t know her, Dad said. She came to work for my uncle, and folks didn’t get why he’d hired an outsider. She had no family and wouldn’t talk about her past. A woman without kin, in the town’s eyes, had been cast out, and surely not without reason. Rumor spread that she was a witch. People still told the story of my mother turning Joe Bill Sump into a snake. They said she emitted a scent that would seduce you if you got too close. That her eyes had the same rectangular pupils as a goat’s. Some even said that her grave was dug up, revealing nothing inside but a bird. None of these things was true. She had no grave because we had no body. Most of Dad’s kin, the aunts and uncles and cousins on his mother’s side, broke away, treated us like strangers--like we were tainted because of her. But I didn’t mind the talk of witchcraft, however ridiculous it was. All the better if people were wary and left me alone. It was preferable to hearing them whisper about the one undisputed truth: that when I was a baby, my mother had walked into the inky limestone labyrinth of Old Scratch Cavern with my father’s derringer pistol and never returned. Before Cheri’s death, my mother’s disappearance had been the biggest mystery in town.On the last day of school, I walked home from the bus stop alone. Over a year had passed since Cheri made the walk with me, and I remembered how she used to linger in my driveway before continuing down the road to her trailer. As my house came into view, I noticed that without Dad’s truck parked out front, the place looked almost abandoned. The yard was a mix of rock and scrub, with Queen Anne’s lace bordering the fence. The house once was white, but the paint had worn down to a dull, splintery gray. It was a simple two-story rectangle with porches on the front and back, one of the nicer homes around when Grandpa built it, before it started to succumb to dry rot and age. It sat in a grove of walnut trees, and Grandpa Dane crowded the foundation with viburnum bushes. Grandma Dane once fell from a second-floor window while cleaning the glass, and Grandpa claimed the viburnum broke her fall and saved her life. Inside, the wood floors had long since lost their varnish, but the walls in each room were the bright cheery colors of Easter eggs, pink and aqua and orange, painted by my mother in a fit of nesting before my birth.

Bookclub Guide

For fans of Gillian Flynn, Scott Smith, and Daniel Woodrell comes a gripping, suspenseful novel about two mysterious disappearances a generation apart.INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS AWARD WINNER AND BARRY AWARD NOMINEE FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BOOKPAGE   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.  Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.  “[An] expertly crafted thriller.”—Entertainment Weekly, “The Must List”   “Haunting . . . [a] riveting debut.”—Los Angeles Times   “Laura McHugh’s atmospheric debut . . . conjures a menacingly beautiful Ozark setting and a nest of poisonous family secrets reminiscent of Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone.”—Vogue   “Fantastic . . . a mile-a-minute thriller.”—The Dallas Morning News   “Gripping . . . 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. . . . Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy thrillers by authors such as Laura Lippman and Tana French.”—Library Journal (starred review)   “The sinister tone builds relentlessly.”—The Plain Dealer   “Rich in character and atmosphere . . . This is one you won’t want to miss.”—Karin Slaughter   “Daniel Woodrell better watch his back. . . . Weight of Blood is a tense, taut novel and a truly remarkable debut. . . . A suspenseful thrill ride that satisfies in all the right ways.”—BookPage1. The Weight of Blood alternates narrators, giving us many of the characters’ perspectives, but mostly going back and forth between Lila and Lucy. What did you think of this dual narrative? Did it confuse you? Could the story have been told in one voice?2. How do you interpret the relationship between Crete and Carl? Carl consistently turns a blind eye toward Crete’s questionable behavior. Do you think this is a weakness of Carl’s character, or do you believe that Carl is rightly loyal to his brother? If you were Carl, how would you handle your relationship with Crete? Would you have covered up Cheri’s murder?3. The Weight of Blood ends with Lucy and Daniel together on a blanket, lost in their own world. Lucy tells us, “I let myself get lost in the moment, looking neither forward nor back, seeking nothing absent but embracing what was right in front of me.” How does this ending resonate with the rest of the story and the struggles Lucy has had to face?4. The novel is set deep in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, in a sparse and wild, dreary and deserted landscape. Describing the valley where her family first settled, Lucy tells us, “What was left of the homestead now was a cluster of tin-roofed out-buildings in various states of decomposition, a collapsed barn, a root cellar with its crumbled steps leading into the earth, and the stone foundation and chimneys of the main house. Walnut trees had sprouted in the spaces between the buildings [and there was] a single-wide trailer that looked out of place among the ruins but every bit as forsaken.” Discuss the role the setting plays in the novel.5. Discuss the book’s title, The Weight of Blood. Ultimately, what does the novel have to say about “blood,” and the meaning of family? Did your interpretation of the title evolve from the beginning to the end of the novel? If so, how? 6. Throughout the novel, Lucy carries around the necklace she finds, a broken blue butterfly on a chain, until she leaves it with the flowers in the cave. Discuss the significance of the necklace. 7. Throughout the novel, Lucy carries around the necklace she finds, a broken blue butterfly on a chain, until she leaves it with the flowers in the cave. Discuss the significance of the necklace. 8. Discuss the friendships between Lila and Gabby and Lucy and Bess. How were they similar across the generations, and how were they different?9. The novel leaves the question of who is really Lucy’s father unanswered. Who do you think it is? Do you think it matters? Why or why not?10. What did you think about Ransome’s role in Crete’s operation? She did whatever she could to help the girls, without actually trying to stop Crete. Do you think her actions were cowardly? Do you think she had a choice?

Editorial Reviews

“[An] expertly crafted thriller.”—Entertainment Weekly, “The Must List”“With her riveting debut, The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh makes a strong bid at cementing a new tradition of regional crime fiction while keeping tourism low in the Ozarks. . . . [A] powerful sense of place is the anchor of The Weight of Blood. The well-drawn townspeople and oppressive, dread-soaked atmosphere sprout from the soil of Henbane. . . . The prose is strong, with evocative paint strokes in all the right places. McHugh is an artful, efficient writer who tells her story in vicious blows. . . . McHugh has crafted a sharp, haunting tale of blood in the Ozarks, as substantial as it is pleasurable to read.”—Los Angeles Times“Laura McHugh’s atmospheric debut, The Weight of Blood . . . conjures a menacingly beautiful Ozark setting and a nest of poisonous family secrets reminiscent of Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone.”—Vogue“Fantastic . . . a mile-a-minute thriller.”—The Dallas Morning News“Gripping . . . 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. . . . Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy thrillers by authors such as Laura Lippman and Tana French.”—Library Journal (starred review)“The sinister tone builds relentlessly.”—The Plain Dealer“A fantastic novel, rich in character and atmosphere . . . This is one you won’t want to miss.”—Karin Slaughter, author of Unseen  “A suspenseful thrill ride that satisfies in all the right ways . . . Daniel Woodrell had better watch his back. . . . The Weight of Blood is a tense, taut novel and a truly remarkable debut.”—BookPage“Laura McHugh’s vivid and enthralling The Weight of Blood centers on a mother and daughter in a seemingly benign yet deeply horrifying small town. It kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page to the last.”—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of The Language of Flowers   “The Weight of Blood pulled me in and wouldn’t let go. What starts as Lucy’s coming-of-age story becomes a chilling tale about the price of secrets. As the menace deepens, so does the tension. Laura McHugh has written a terrific novel.”—Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award–winning author of The Shadow Tracer  “McHugh’s debut is as lush and evocative as its Ozark setting, with luminous prose and characters you can’t help rooting for, even as the mystery surrounding them intensifies and the odds against them grow more and more harrowing. I couldn’t put it down.”—Carla Buckley, author of The Deepest Secret   “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“In this riveting debut, Laura McHugh weaves together the stories of two women, separated by a generation, who each reveal pieces of a story that gains momentum and power as its shape becomes clear. This novel will keep you up all night.”—Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train  “Once I picked up Laura McHugh’s The Weight of Blood, I couldn’t put it down. I kept turning pages long into the night, bewitched by the enchanting Ozark landscape and the haunting murder mystery at its heart. The Weight of Blood is the kind of novel that leaves the reader breathless and wanting more.”—Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot “An elegant time bomb of a novel, a coming-of age story that holds you captive from the first sentence and doesn’t let go of you after the last.”—Tracy Guzeman, author of The Gravity of Birds“[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.”—BooklistFrom the Hardcover edition.