Cover Image: Safe and Sound

Safe and Sound

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Member Reviews

Couldn't get into it

I started this book four times, but never got more than a quarter pf the way through. Although the characters were good, pretty much everything seemed like many books I have read over the years. Missing girl, slimy boss, small-town secrets. I will try this again later, and will revise this if it finally catches my attention. but so far i keep putting it down for other options.

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Laura McHugh (favorite author) returns following What's Done in Darkness with another haunting dark mystery thriller, SAFE AND SOUND —set in a claustrophobic small town in the Ozarks, where no one leaves, the feeling of being held captive, and few places to hide.

Darkly chilling, psychological, atmospheric, and compelling.

"Folks want to think it's strangers you gotta watch out for, but in a place like this, we eat our own."

As children, Amelia and Kylee were in Beaumont, Missouri, with their teenage cousin, Grace (their babysitter). Then she disappeared when they were hidden in the closet.

That was six years earlier, and no clues as to her whereabouts. Missing or dead.

Grace was excited to be so close to escaping this rural town after graduating from high school. Everyone wants to leave, but few are able to.

So what happened? The only clue was so much blood in the farmhouse. The three have always been close.

Amelia and Kylee are preparing to leave this dead-end town as Grace had always encouraged them. They want to find their cousin.

Then, the remains of a woman are found, and they wonder if it is Grace. They need a plan and uncover secrets in the town and their families. They also discover Grace is hiding secrets. Who can they trust? The more they learn, the more dangerous their search becomes with a long list of suspects.

Told cleverly from POVs: Amelia and Kylee with alternating chapters as the past unfolds through Grace's POV.

Dark secrets and abuse are interwoven with multi-layered, well-developed characters and a bond between the girls. The atmospheric setting has darkness lurking on every page. You will love the girls' unique personalities, which are tenacious and determined.

SAFE AND SOUND is beautifully written, gritty, haunting, vivid, emotional, and gripping. Character-driven and written with lyrical prose, it is a raw look into dark family secrets, evil, and the search for the truth. I'm a big fan of the author; all her books are hauntingly beautiful! If you have not previously read this author's books, I highly recommend them.

Thanks to Random House Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced reading digital copy. I look forward to listening to the audiobook narrated by (favorite) Jorjeana Marie.

Blog review posted @
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
Pub Date: April 23, 2024
My Rating: 5 Stars
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4.5 rounded up! Read this book!! Author is going on my automatic read list!!

So to start, my first by this author and I’ve already added all her other books to my library list and will definitely be reading her other books!!

I absolutely loved Grace, Amelia and Kylee. Each was developed so well and written perfectly to a small town girl looking for more out of life, each in a different way.

There are some triggers for child abuse and inappropriate touching/pictures of children. Didn’t bother me, just heads up. It’s written skillfully.

I didn’t want the story to end and just when i thought I’d figured something out, nope, it would twist a different way and i definitely didn’t see the ending coming.

Thanks to Netgalley and Random house for my electronic advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Life in Beaumont, Missouri for teenage sisters Amelia and Kylee has always come with a countdown attached; in the small town heart of the Ozarks, folks who don't get out by a certain time don't seem to get out at all. With the shadow of their mother Shannon, a middle-aged stripper who's yet to get motherhood down, constantly looming as a reminder of what their future could hold, Amelia and Kylee are saving all they can to leave Beaumont permanently in their rearview mirror.

The one thing holding them back, however, is the unsolved disappearance of their cousin Grace.

Six years ago, Grace vanished from the Crow house with hardly a trace. Though the trail is long-cold and the community has moved on, Amelia and Kylee have a feeling that Beaumont knows more than it's letting on; after all, if there's one thing small town folk do well, it's burying secrets deep if it means protecting their own.

"Safe and Sound" is my first novel by Laura McHugh, and as far as thrillers go, I found it solidly middle-of-the-road. Despite quick pacing and an intriguing-enough premise, it follows what feels like a too-familiar design of small town secrets unearthed and seedy, down-on-their-luck characters. While not memorable enough to be a standout in the genre, if you're looking for a read-in-a-day thriller as a palette cleanser, this could be one to keep on your to read list.

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I really enjoyed this novel. This is my first time reading this author, and I look forward to reading more from her.

Grace, Kylee and Amelia are cousins who live in a small town wanting so deaperately to get out and never look back. When Grace goes missing after a night babysitting Kylee and Amelia, her body is never found. Now it's up to Kylee and Amelia to undercover what happened the night Grace disappeared.

Trigger warnings present such as child molestation, sex, drugs, and alcohol abuse.

4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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An engrossing tale by McHugh, who has really hit her stride as an author. The story is centered on two young women seeking to flee their dismal small town and discover the opportunities within the outside world, with both facing obstacles that make this escape more challenging than expected. It's extremely effective how the events of the book are relayed in chunks from the present and past through Amelia and Grace's perspectives, which had the feeling of putting together a puzzle with pieces that would emerge a little at a time. There is some extremely unsettling content and several scenes are difficult to read, but I admired the devotion and determination of these characters. Although the ending felt a little rushed and there are a few plot threads left dangling, overall this is an extremely compelling tale and I didn't want to put it down once I hit the halfway point. I can't wait to see what McHugh writes next.

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I so wanted to like this one but I struggled to get through its opening pages. I am still very thankful to the publisher, author, and netgalley for granting me advanced access to this one before publication day.

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I’ve never read from this author before, but I enjoyed her writing style and I would like to read a backlist title. This was an atmospheric fast paced mystery thriller, about a young girl who goes missing and family members try to solve the mystery of what happened to her. I thought the characters were written very well in this book and it kept my interest throughout. The writing is reminiscent of Jennifer McMahon, because it follows sisters and has dual timelines. I love McMahon’s books so I think that’s why I enjoyed this.

The story starts with Grace who is a young girl who has everything going for her, she’s smart, pretty and has a serious boyfriend. She wants to get out of their small town and start her life, but things don’t go as planned. Sisters Amelia and Kylee wake up in the morning, and the kitchen is covered in blood and Grace is nowhere to be found. Amelia and Kylee try to put together pieces and try to unravel the mystery. As they are searching for Grace, they uncover more girls that have gone missing and try to bring the killer to justice. What happened to Grace and are the other girls all connected to one killer?

Thank you Netgalley and Random House for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I always enjoy Laura McHugh's books. They are concise and quick reads. I stayed up late to finish the last 50% of this one. This book features teenaged sisters searching for answers about their cousin Grace 6 years before. Amelia and Kylee are technically kids, but they are pretty mature and thoughtful for their age. The story alternates between Amelia and Grace. The book deals really well the the generational trauma of the Crow family.

I don't generally use trigger warnings, but the book includes pretty graphic depictions of sexual assault.

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This one was twistyyyy and I didn’t see the ending coming until it hit me in the face. Stocked full of suspense, this one had so many possibilities laid out and I loved guessing what was going to be revealed next. I was really impressed with the depth of the characters in this one and found myself caring about so many of them. I will definitely be looking out for more from this author in the future.

Safe And Sound does have a lot of parts that are hard to stomach. I highly recommend checking the trigger warnings before jumping into this one and that’s something I very rarely say.

This one will resonate with anyone that’s ever felt stuck in a small town, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys thrillers, suspense, well-done characters, and twists.

**Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the eARC of this title and to PRH Audio for the amazing advanced audio copy!!**

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An intense and atmospheric thriller that starts by asking what happened to Grace and then moves back and forth in time to tell her story as well as the story of her cousins Amelia and Kylee. Beaumont is a claustrophobic small town that all of the women want to escape because there's just nothing to look forward to. In the present, Amelia is working at the Waffle House and saving for college-and then she decides to look for answers. Grace also worked at the Waffle House, had a boyfriend, and seemed to have it all together. None of the three are well served by their mothers Elsie and Shannon but have other advocates (not, btw, that help them). Veterans of the genre might suspect the menace she faced but I bet that like me won't see the answer or the ending coming. This has great characters and strong storytelling-and you'll find yourself rooting for all three women. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Great read.

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This was hard to me to get into due to a trigger warning I wasn't made aware of. I have a hard time reading about children who have suffered from child abuse. Due to this nature, this book was a miss for me. I felt queasy and angry reading some parts that deal with the trauma Grace had suffered. Additionally, I feel like some of the red herrings that McHugh threw in there were just SO random and had no closure. For example, her boss having loads of money in his freezer, love story between Grace and her highschool rival, and the dead body found under Grace's house. Zero closure.

Grace is itching to leave the town of Beaumont behind. Everyone who stays either becomes a stripper, works at the Waffle House, or at Savor meats. No one leaves and most people drop off to support their family, but Grace wants a different life. She wants to go to college and never find herself in the decrepit town of Beaumont again. One day, she is watching her two nieces Amelia and Kylee, when she disappears from their house with blood staining the walls. Amelia and Kylee are determind to find out where she went. Was she murdered? Was she stalked? They will stop at nothing to find the truth and it may be CLOSER TO HOME than they realize.

Thank you to Random House for the ARC.

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PUBLICATION DAY: April 23, 2024

Kylee and Amelia are sisters and as close as can be. Ever since losing their beloved cousin Grace years earlier, they have known that they need to get out of their small town as soon as they are able. But when a body is found, everyone wonders if Grace has finally been found. What will the girls discover as they dig into Grace’s life? Will they finally solve the mystery of what happened that fateful night?

I love McHugh’s writing style. Descriptive (but not overly), with tension and dread mounting, she intrigues the reader until the end. She is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers! I felt a little let down at the ending on this one, felt there were a few things unresolved and it wrapped up in a hurry. Still, McHugh is a talented writer whose style I enjoy very much.

If you are interested in dual timeline mysteries - then you should give this one a try!

4 Stars

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I've been such a fan of Laura's work since I picked up The Weight of Blood, and when I saw Safe and Sound announced, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

This is definitely making my top reads of the year.

Alternating timelines, we follow Grace, Kylee, and Amelia through their daily lives, which are dominated by dreams of escape but punctuated by the very real restrictions and setbacks they endure. McHugh's writing is crisp, brutally honest, and unapologetically blunt, creating moments of beautiful insight and raw despair. A gripping mystery is the center point of the conflict but also serves as a vehicle to examine how people handle the circumstances in which they find themselves and the ramifications of generational trauma.

I can't recommend enough. Safe and Sound is an absolute must-read.

Huge thanks to Random House and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

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Three cousins intertwined and forever linked in a small town in Missouri when one of them goes missing. The remaining two live with a shadow over them as they grapple with their unstable mother and the desire to leave her and their town behind. This book felt so long! The character development was good but I felt like there were so many repeats of information and events that the story itself was bogged down. And then, the reveal, ending, all took place in the shortest amount of pages possible. It made no sense! To me it seemed like the author knew what happened but struggled getting the reader from point A to point B. The journey between the two was muddled and then "ta da" here is the ending thankyouverymuchhaveaniceday! I wish the time during the novel had been more concise and more time spent on the reveal at the end.

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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
"Safe And Sound" was the 2nd book that I read by Laura McHugh.
I found it to be an addictive, dark, twisty & interesting story that pulled me in right away & didn't let me go until its final page.
I enjoyed the author's writing style, how she told the story in the present day through chapters from the POV of Amelia & Kylee while alternating chapters have the events from the past unfolding through Grace's POV.
My only complaint was the ending seemed incomplete, it didn't answer alot of questions.

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Wow! This one packed a punch. From the synopsis, I was expecting a different book. This one really caught me unaware and clawed it’s s way under my skin. It was an atmospheric, twisty, and surprising read. The conclusion left me shocked! This one has a lot of triggers for child abuse, so please be aware.

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Safe and Sound by Laura McHugh is a very highly recommended mystery following two sisters trying to find out the truth behind their older cousin's disappearance from their home in Beaumont, Missouri.

Amelia(Mimi) and Kylee were found safe upstairs in their bedroom when their teenage cousin Grace, who was babysitting them, disappeared. The sisters are now getting ready to leave the dead-end small town of Beaumont after high school graduation, just as Grace always told them to do. When the remains of a young woman are found on a piece of property outside of town, the sisters immediately wonder if it is Grace. There was so much blood found in the kitchen that night... As the girls begin to look into the identity of the body found they must continue to survive in a town that is cruel to young women and hope.

The narrative is told in the present day through chapters from the point-of-view of Amelia and Kylee while alternating chapters have the events from the past unfolding through Grace's point-of-view. This was a very effective plot device which serves to keep tensions high in both time periods. Readers know Grace disappears and is presumed dead due to the amount of blood at the scene. Seeing Grace grow up and her absolute devotion to her younger cousins establishes the close bond between the cousins. They were really as close as sisters.

Grace, Amelia, and Kylee are all believable, fully realized characters and you will want the best for them even while Grace is experiencing horrors of abuse by an uncle. There are so many layers of secrets lurking in both their families and with their friends. Additionally, the setting is a major character. Beaumont is a hard-scrabble, dead-end town where the best job is at the meat packing plant and it seems everyone is just barely scraping by.
The writing is absolutely wonderful, both descriptive and emotional. I marked several quotes, including one from an elderly former teacher, Mrs. Mummer: "When you're dying, Amelia, you remember your regrets. They crop up like stones in the river when the water gets low. Try to have as few as possible." For such a dark and desperate story there was one discussion that had me laughing, as it will others who know the Missouri/Kansas rivalry. (Condensing the discussion: What do you think it'll it be like? Living someplace else? / Probably something like when Dorothy lands in Oz. / Great. Maybe we'll get hearts and brains and courage. / That's only if you're from Kansas. We're from Missouri. We'll be lucky to get a can of Bud Light and a bootstrap.)

The final denouement was shocking and surprising, but also felt a bit incomplete. 4.5 rounded up. Thanks to Random House for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

The review will be published on Edelweiss, X, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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I thought this was well crafted, with unique twists and although it took me a little bit to get into it, it was a great read! One to add to your list.

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Solid Slow Burn Mystery Will Be Jarring For Some. While never a fan of content/ trigger warnings printed in books (I prefer them on the author's website or in reviews like this, either way separate from the book at hand and easily findable with a modicum of research), let me say up front that if you have severe issues with child sexual abuse or child neglect... this may not be the best book for you. Same with violence against women generally, addiction, stripping, etc.

That dispensed with, this was a remarkable tale of generations of women trying to leave a dying small rural town... and failing miserably, only for the cycle to repeat with their own daughters ad nauseum. It is a slow burn missing woman tale where we do get both the current timeline of one of the women being missing and the older timeline of what her life was up to the very moment she became missing. Both parts of the tale carry the same dull, dismal, depressing stylings throughout, even as both sets of women actively rebel against their situations and try their damnedest to be the women that break the cycle.

For anyone who has ever spent time in a run down house or trailer, you know this life quite well. You've probably lived a version of it - hopefully *without* the abuse, though this is admittedly far more common than it should be in such situations. Which makes the story that much more "real"... and yet also that much more depressing, to a point, as many read fiction as a way to *escape* their current "real" world bonds.

The time switches could be a bit jarring - they are labeled, but the label is somewhat easily missed - and the inconclusive ending, with several questions still lingering, could put some off. Personally, I felt this particular ending made the tale that much more "real" and worked for the story told to that point, particularly in the final build up to the reveal. So it is absolutely a "your mileage may vary", and unless you are just 100% opposed to such endings... do yourself a favor and read this book and see what you think of it yourself.

Overall truly a great and all-too-real (sadly) story, and very well told. Very much recommended. With the warnings noted in this review.

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