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The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

The Weight of Blood

by Laura McHugh

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4608722,586 (3.83)32
  1. 20
    Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Questions of family loyalty trouble resourceful teen girls in these stark and menacing novels of hardscrabble life in the Ozark hills. Both fast-paced literary thrillers combine a strong sense of place with haunting characters and clear-eyed depictions of violence.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh is a riveting, spellbinding, very highly recommended novel of suspense.

Despite the fact that seventeen-year-old Lucy Dane has lived her whole life in small Missouri Ozarks town of Henbane with her father, Carl, and near her uncle, Crete, she has spent most of her life wondering what happened to her mother and why she disappeared. No one in Henbane has forgotten that her mother, Lila, 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." All Lucy really knows is that eighteen years ago Lila met Carl when she came to Henbane to work for Crete Dane. When Lucy was a year old her mother "walked into the inky limestone labyrinth of Old Scratch Cavern with my father’s derringer pistol and never returned."

Lucy is now wondering why the body of her mentally challenged friend, Cherie, who disappeared a year ago, is suddenly found murdered and dismembered. Before the murder of Cheri, Lila's disappearance had been the biggest mystery in town.

"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."

Armed only with a burning desire to discover the truth about what happened to Cheri, as well as her ongoing search for answers about her mother, Lucy unknowingly begins to uncover a tangled web of deceit, corruption, and evil that puts her own life in jeopardy.

The novel is divided into three parts. In the first part the narrative alternates between Lucy's current life and that of her mother, Lila. After introducing the cast of characters and the role many of them played in the past and present, chapters in parts II and III of The Weight of Blood are told through the point of view of a wide variety of characters. Since we are exposed to multiple viewpoints and background information, a picture of a dark underbelly of the town emerges. Secrets have been kept for years, allowing evil to flourish. Perhaps there is a reason the town is named Hensbane, another name for nightshade, or the devil’s weed.

This is a remarkably well written debut novel for McHugh and I was engrossed in it from beginning to end. While there are plenty of descriptions that help enhance the mental pictures of the area, the action continues on at a good pace while the tension is allowed to build as more information is revealed. It becomes clear that Lucy may not be safe and that everything may not be exactly what she thinks. I'll be looking for future novels by McHugh.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Random House for review purposes.
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
A great read! You will not be able to put it down until you finish! (I stayed up all night) A parallel story of a daughter and mother 16 years apart. Lucy is playing detective and trying to solve her friend Cheri's murder. While investigating she is also uncovering clues to the disappearance of her mother. ( )
  LaurieLin | Mar 6, 2016 |
I really liked the first few chapters of this and the style and prose were on point. But, I didn't love how the narration shifted perspectives between so many people and the ending left too many lingering questions for me to feel satisfied with it. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A decent thriller with plenty of atmosphere, but I felt the ending pulled its punch and the villain (who is obvious and there is no twist; he is who he is) gets no real punishment. As a matter of fact, the slavery of young women appears to just go on. And not just the girls who are sold for sex, many of the women in town are equally in bonds and cannot stop what's happening. One thing that bugged me was that the two narrators who take the alternate perspectives of Lucy and Lila sounded too much alike. If I let my attention wander I sometimes couldn't tell which was which. Really, would it be so hard to find another woman who doesn't sound like a little girl? ( )
  Bookmarque | Jan 4, 2016 |
Recommended to me by my mom, because she liked it but also because the author was pregnant when she wrote it, and has a Masters in Library Science - parallels to my own life right now! But I digress. Lucy is seventeen when her developmentally disabled friend Cheri is found cut into pieces and stuffed in a tree. Cheri had been missing for a year, but was written off as a runaway. Lucy never bought that explanation, especially once she finds some evidence that Cheri had been staying near their small, rural town. As Lucy learns more about Cheri's disappearance, she notices a lot of parallels between her own mother's disappearance, which happened when Lucy was a baby. This book isn't a major "whodunit" mystery, but the way it unfolds, and especially the ending, are very satisfying, and the whole thing is well-written. I look forward to reading a lot more from Laura McHugh. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Nov 4, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
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........McHugh has crafted a sharp, haunting tale of blood in the Ozarks, as substantial as it is pleasurable to read.

McHugh cleverly tells the story in several first-person voices, mostly that of Lucy and her mother. The reader will know early on who the primary villain is, and may wonder at Lucy’s naiveté in not figuring it out sooner. But as in real life but oh-so-rarely in fiction, the villain here may not be 100 percent villainous, nor are the good guys necessarily 100 percent blame-free.

The plot will keep readers of The Weight of Blood reading far past their bedtimes, but it’s McHugh’s shadings and subtleties of character that’ll have them looking at their own families with new eyes and looking for her next book with eager ones.
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That Cheri Stoddard was found at all was the thing that set people on edge, even more so than the condition of her body.
You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family. There’s no forsaking kin.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812995201, Hardcover)

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.
Praise for The Weight of Blood
“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 Award–winning 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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:31 -0400)

"The Dane family's roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn't keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy's few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls--the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri's necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri's death could be linked to her mother's disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie"--… (more)

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