The Boughs Withered

Writer: Maura McHugh
Introduction by: Kim Newman
Editor: Ian Whates
Cover Artist: Daniele Serra
Publisher: NewCon Press
Pages: 230
Editions: paperback and signed, limited edition hardback (order here)
Kindle:  from or
ISBN: 978-1-912950-40-9

Nominated for Best Collection in the British Fantasy Society’s British Fantasy Awards 2020

The Boughs Withered (When I Told Them My Dreams) is the debut collection from accomplished Irish author Maura McHugh. It includes twenty tales – four of them original to the volume – which represent the best strange visions from an award-winning writer of fiction, non-fiction, comic books and plays. Among the featured stories is ‘Bone Mother’, which was adapted into the award-winning stop-motion animated short film by See Creature in Canada.

In her horror and dark fantasy stories, Maura McHugh explores her love of the uncanny, delves into the eerie past, and evokes weird landscapes that might just co-exist with our own.

‘Maura McHugh’s gloriously twisted, tale-spinning imagination entwines and embraces the reader like dark ivy.’ – Ian R. MacLeod (Clarke Award-winning author of Song of Time)

“Maura McHugh’s stories are hugely enjoyable. Her insight and compassion, combined with a fresh, engaging voice, make her monsters, marvels and myths stand out in a crowded field.” – Lisa Tuttle (Nebula Award-winning author of The Bone Flute)

“Beautifully observed and incisively written. McHugh’s stories are full of surprising vistas and unsettling shifts of perspective.” – Mike Carey (author of The Girl With All the Gifts)

“These stories [are] made to last, reaching deep into myth-pools for eternal, primal treasures.” – Kim Newman (author of Anno Dracula)

“Hauntings, dark pacts and ancient gods are brought into the here and now by Maura McHugh’s peculiar magic.” – Priya Sharma (author of All the Fabulous Beasts)

The Table of Contents:

  • Introduction by Kim Newman
  • Vic
  • Who Hears Our Cries in Forgotten Tongues?
  • The Boughs Withered When I Told Them My Dreams *
  • The Light at the Centre
  • A Rebellious House
  • Beautiful Calamity
  • Home
  • Moments on the Cliff
  • The Gift of the Sea *
  • Suspension *
  • The Tamga
  • Spooky Girl
  • The Hanging Tree
  • The Diet
  • Involuntary Muscle
  • Family
  • Wake the Dead *
  • Y
  • Bone Mother
  • Water
  • Author’s Afterword

* denotes stories new for this collection.

This marks the first time the short story ‘Bone Mother’ has been in print since its first publication in 2007. In 2009 it was podcast on Pseudopod, and much later it was adapted into an award-winning stop-motion animated short film, ‘Bone Mother’, by Dale Hayward & Sylvie Trouvé. It was produced by the National Film Board of Canada and had its première at the Festival Stop Motion in Montreal in 2018.