The Mercies

The Mercies

eBook - 2020
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After the men in an Arctic Norwegian town are wiped out, the women must survive a sinister threat in this "perfectly told" 1600s parable of "a world gone mad" (Adriana Trigiani).

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a stranger arrives on their shore. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband's authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil. As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom's iron rule threatening Vardø's very existence.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, The Mercies is a story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.

One of the Best Books of the Year (Good Housekeeping)

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company


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May 25, 2020

Hauntingly atmospheric historical fiction in which a small Norwegian fishing village is at the centre of a brutal witch hunt. The bleak, cold setting, slow-building tension, complicated characters and the fact that this is based on true events, make for a gripping reading experience.

AlishaH_KCMO Apr 29, 2020

Inspired by true events, The Mercies is about a small community called Vardø, in Norway beginning in 1617 after an unexpected storm takes the lives of practically the entire male population.

The story switched between two women. Maren, a member of the Vardø community who lost her father, brother, and the man she was to betrothed. The lost of the men forced Maren to see outside the norm of what is expected of both males and females in the community in order to survive.

The other woman is Ursa, a young woman who is use to carrying for her poorly sister after her mother passed away years ago. One day her father tells her she is to marry a man named Absalom Cornet, a Commissioner. Together, Ursa and Absalom go to Vardø where Absalom is tasked with bringing religious order to the community.

I absolutely adored the writing in The Mercies. I don't know what it was about Kiran Millwood Hargrave's writing but I couldn't put it down. You truly get immersed into the story. It felt so simple, beautiful, and honest. From the very first page I was hooked and the main characters were so well written I fell in love with them. Once the climax happened, my heart was aching for all the women in the story.

Being from America, I was fairly familiar with the Salem Witch Trails but not too much of others from around the world. This beautifully written historical fiction turns the light on to this different era of those trails. It's been a few days since I finished the novel and I still have the feeling I had when I read the book now while I'm just thinking of it.

Mar 24, 2020

Great historical fiction about a witch hunt somewhere other than Salem. Hargrave brings this neglected true story to life, fully immersing the reader in their struggle to adapt and survive. Alas, human nature rears its ugly head, and the consequences are dire. Hargrave masterfully explores the human psyche, and these lessons are needed as much today as 400 years ago.

Feb 29, 2020



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