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.
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You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!
Some of the recent comments posted about The Weight of Blood:
Both Lila and Cheri were treated poorly by the people of Henbane. What was it about them that made them easy targets and did superstition play a role?
I think both women were vulnerable in a small town where the overall mentality was not very respectful of women. Lila had a stroke of luck that Carl fell in love with her and came looking for her at a time that enabled him and Ransome to "rescue" ... - melindaw
Did anything about the book's plot surprise you?
I was very surprised when I found out who arranged Cheri's body in the way it was found! - rebeccak
Did you find the multiple-voice narrative effective?
Yes, I liked it. That said, I think having the names of the two women so similar, Lila and Lucy, and the fact that their voices were so similar was a bit confusing at times. I had to think about whose story I was reading at the beginning of each ... - lizc
Do you think Lucy will be able to walk away from her ghosts? Do you think it's possible to truly put away the past?
I do not feel Lucy will walk away from her ghosts, I think there will always be times that she will think of her Mother. I also feel that as long as she lives in Henbane, there will times where she will be reminded of and think of Cheri. She seems ... - melindaw
How did Carl change after Lila disappeared?
Carl and Crete were brothers, but totally different in every way. Crete was evil, while Carl was basically a good man. Carl truly loved Lila and could not get past her disappearance. He also loved Lucy, although his grief kept him from being a real ... - cherylk
"Starred Review. 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... Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy thrillers by authors such as Laura Lippman and Tana French."- Library Journal
"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
"[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
"A fantastic novel, rich in character and atmosphere ... This is one you won't want to miss." - Karin Slaughter, author of Unseen
"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 Awardwinning author of The Shadow Tracer
"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
"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
"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
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Laura McHugh grew up in small towns in Iowa and the Ozark mountains of southern Missouri. She now lives in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband, two young daughters and one enormous dog. Her background includes computer science, software development and library science; The Weight of Blood is her first novel.
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