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The Weight of Blood

Winner of the International Thriller Writers Award and Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel & the Missouri Author Award for Fiction. Nominated for a Barry Award, Alex Award, and GoodReads Choice Award.

The Dane family's roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn't keep seventeen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, who vanished years ago. When Lucy’s friend Cheri is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls—the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't protect. Determined to find answers, she uncovers a horrific secret worse than anything she could have imagined.


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”

“McHugh is an artful, efficient writer who tells her story in vicious blows. [She] has crafted a sharp, haunting tale of blood in the Ozarks, as substantial as it is pleasurable to read.” The Los Angeles Times

“Gripping…[McHugh’s] 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)

“Daniel Woodrell had better watch his back...The Weight of Blood is a tense, taut novel and a truly remarkable debut…a suspenseful thrill ride that satisfies in all the right ways.”


“Fantastic…a mile-a-minute thriller.” The Dallas Morning News

“The sinister tone builds relentlessly.” The Plain Dealer

“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

“One of the best thrillers of the summer and one of the best books of the year…Beautifully written and cleverly plotted with memorable, deftly-drawn characters, The Weight of Blood is an unmissable debut.” Sunday Express (UK)

“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

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