The Weight Of Blood: A Novel

The Weight Of Blood: A Novel

Hardcover | September 15, 2015

byLaura Mchugh

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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.
 
Praise for The Weight of Blood
 
“[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

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The Weight Of Blood: A Novel

Hardcover | September 15, 2015
In stock online Available in stores
$10.00 online $41.50 (save 75%)

From the Publisher

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 Ozar...

Laura McHugh lives in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband and children. The Weight of Blood is her first novel.

other books by Laura Mchugh

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Arrowood: A Novel

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see all books by Laura Mchugh
Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.53 × 6.32 × 1.11 inPublished:September 15, 2015Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0812995201

ISBN - 13:9780812995206

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it! great read; suspenseful!
Date published: 2016-06-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Engaging I found the book somewhat predictable, to a point - but not to the point of being disappointing. I found that it kept me going. A goof read, read in a day.
Date published: 2016-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Page Turner This is a dark book with many plot twists for Laura McHugh's first book it is so beautifully written, I couldn't but it down. Praise for The Weight of Blood
Date published: 2015-11-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page Turner This book is very dark, but definitely extremely engaging. It was recommended if you enjoyed Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, you would like this book. To be honest, I enjoyed The Weight of Blood the most out of those three novels. Definitely worth reading. A well written page turner that is engaging from the very start.
Date published: 2015-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from love it!!! It's an amazing book.
Date published: 2015-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING! You literally cant put it down- if you love Gillian Flynn you will love this book. Highly reccomended!
Date published: 2015-01-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Weight of Blood. Liked this book.
Date published: 2014-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating The Weight of Blood starts off from the start very intriguing and continues that way until the end of the story. I couldn't put it down, just kept wanting to read more and more. Interesting way the story develops as you read what happens through the flipping back and forth of a mother and daughters' stories and what happened to them. I loved that it wasn't overly complicated so I could just sit back and read without feeling like I needed to take a break from reading it. That allowed me to enjoy MY time reading. Thank you.
Date published: 2014-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great 1st book Stayed up all night because I couldn't put it down. Good character development but sad and depressing parts as well. Fast paced book that flips between mother and daughter at two different times.
Date published: 2014-10-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from page turner This is a really well written book and definitely a great turn-pager summer read. The story flows well between the two main characters.
Date published: 2014-08-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! I received this book as a gift and wow what a great read! Picked it up, and didn't want to put it down. It's an easy read that keeps you wrapped in the characters. It's gripping and captivating. The book goes back and forth, from character to character through the chapters, showing their point of view. Great read, well written. Fantastic debut.
Date published: 2014-08-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A solid debut This book did have me reading right from the start and I did not want to put it down. That said, in many ways you could piece things together fairly easily and predict parts and endings but in other cases, you were a bit shocked at what was happening. It is a very fast and simple read that I had done within a weekend. It would have been helpful if that book included time dates along with just names as I was at first slightly confused as to who was who at what point but that was quickly rectified. It is not going to be a forever favourite but definitely a worthwhile read that I had for this summer that I will suggest others would enjoy for a quick read that keeps you wanting to find out what will happen.
Date published: 2014-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Weight of Blood is Heavy! Great debut novel. Very gritty, dark and suspenseful. I picked it up because of all the reviews and comparisons to GIllian Flynn and Daniel Woodrell and it did not disappoint. This book really speaks to the bond of family (ergo the title) and how far we will go to protect them. I love how the novel went back and forth from Lucy's point of view and then her mom's (Lila's). And then, randomly, there would be a chapter told from another character's POV just to drive home certain little aspects of the story. The Ozark community is a fascinating landscape in in exclusivity and it's protection of it's people.
Date published: 2014-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling I came across this book at the Coles bookstore, and reading the dust jacket it seemed really intriguing. After Heather names it as one of her "guaranteed reads" I bought it, and I was not disappointed. This is the first novel from this author and she definitely has a winner. The story is a coming of age mystery with old secrets and lies, all told mostly by the 2 main characters. The author has a very superb way of telling a tale and weaving the reader into the plot deeper and deeper. This a very good book with current themes and I would definitely read her next novel.
Date published: 2014-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotion Gripping Novel I don`t usually read fiction or write reviews- which makes this book so much more special. From the first page, it is an earth shattering, beautifully written story about Lucy and her endeavor to do the right thing- even when the results could be dire to herself and those around her. This book makes you sit at the edge of your seat, guessing what happens next, with the most eloquent linguistics to describe the tale. Told in the perspective of Lucy and her mother Lila, as well as other characters, you truly come to believe you are one of them. Amazing novel. Cannot wait until Laura McHugh publishes a next novel.
Date published: 2014-06-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Weight of Blood The Weight of Blood is a good book with compelling characters that make you feel for them. It is worth a read.
Date published: 2014-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Weight of Blood....great story! I really enjoyed this book. It took me to a different time and place and was so easy to read. The story takes place in the Ozark mountains and the people became very real to me. I could picture them as characters in a movie. The story is about a mother and daughter torn apart by unfortunate situations in the mothers life. It revolves around the daughter's search for her mother and why she left. There are many local characters in this book that bring the whole whole story to life. I definitely recommend it!
Date published: 2014-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Debut Novel!! MY REVIEW: Random House Publishing Group|March 11, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-8129-9520-6 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 body, 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 one we love. Lucy, Lila, Crete, Carl, Daniel and Birdie are six of the main characters that you won't soon forget. This book had me pulled in from the first page right through until the last. For a debut novel it was an exceptional read and one I'll be highly recommending. I couldn't put it down and it didn't want it to end. I wish the author had continued on for a few more chapters at the end as there were a few items I would have liked to see resolved but I suppose I can make up my own version of how those things resolved themselves. Excellent read!!!
Date published: 2014-05-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great debut Laura McHugh is garnering lots of attention with her debut novel, The Weight of Blood. (And it's all good!) Seventeen year old Lucy Dane was born in the Ozark mountain town of Henbane, but has never been fully accepted by the community. Although her father is a native son, her mother Lila was an outsider, with rumours and suspicions constantly being whispered about her. Lucy doesn't remember her - she disappeared when she was a toddler. Other people have disappeared from Henbane as well - including a friend of Lucy. Lucy wants answers - about her mother and her friend. And so she begins nosing about.....perhaps not the wisest choice in a town full of secrets - and secret keepers. As a reader, we know much more. In part one, McHugh cuts the narrative between Lucy's present day search for answers and Lila's arrival and life in Henbane. Although a generation apart, Lila and Lucy's stories seem to mirror each other. Other voices are introduced in the next two parts, bring a different perspective and shedding further light on both the past and present. McHugh does a great job in setting the tone of the novel. Details and descriptions of everyday life, the locale, the customs and the mood of the town and its inhabitants are richly drawn. I had vivid pictures of Lucy and Lila sitting on the same front porch. Of the two main characters, I found myself most drawn to Lila, perhaps because I wanted things to be better for her. Lucy makes some rash choices that had me thinking 'oh no!' more than once. But, I did want her to find answers. Both for herself and me. I had a fairly clear idea of where things were going to end, but the journey there was a very good read. Tension filled and a page turner. A few of the supporting cast of characters were a wee bit cliched. But, the reader has no trouble discerning who is 'good' and who is 'bad'. Or do they? For the lines are blurred in The Weight of Blood. Where does loyalty lie? "You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family. There's no forsaking kin." I thought McHugh's choice of the name Henbane for the town was somewhat revealing.. Henbane is 'a coarse and poisonous plant of the nightshade family, with sticky hairy leaves and an unpleasant smell.' The case of Lucy's missing friend is based on a horrifying true event. I reviewed a book last month that fell into a newly (to me) coined genre - grit lit. The Weight of Blood has a distinctly Southern Gothic feel to it, but I would also tag it as grit lit. Dark, dangerous and grittily atmospheric. The Weight of Blood is an excellent debut and has marked McHugh as an author I'll be watching. Her second novel Arrowood is in the works.
Date published: 2014-04-07

Extra Content

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.

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.”—Booklist