The storm that wipes out nearly all of the men from their small coastal fishing town doesn’t defeat Maren or the other women who must make do in time to survive winter conditions, leaving no time for the luxury of grief. This same gritty industriousness that pulled them through, however, will threaten to undo them when a new commissioner arrives in town, interpreting the women’s independence as dangerous, and ungodly. Gloriously stark, the wind-burned tone that roils around this Norwegian parable begets chills and fevers in an unforgettable unfolding of historically reimagined events. Recommended By Aubrey W., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The women in an Arctic village must survive a sinister threat after all the men are wiped out by a catastrophic storm in this "gripping novel inspired by a real-life witch hunt.... Beautiful and chilling" Madeline Miller, bestselling author of Circe
When the women take over, is it sorcery or power?
Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the skies break into a sudden and reckless storm. All forty of the village's men were at sea, including Maren's father and brother, and all forty are drowned in the otherworldly disaster.
For the women left behind, survival means defying the strict rules of the island. They fish, hunt, and butcher reindeer — which they never did while the men were alive. But the foundation of this new feminine frontier begins to crack with the arrival of Absalom Cornet, a man sent from Scotland to root out alleged witchcraft. Cornet brings with him the threat of danger — and a pretty, young Norwegian wife named Ursa.
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 Vard 's very existence.
"The Mercies has a pull as sure as the tide. It totally swept me away to Vard , where grief struck islanders stand tall in the shadow of religious persecution and witch burnings. It's a beautifully intimate story of friendship, love and hope. A haunting ode to self-reliant and quietly defiant women." Douglas Stuart, Booker Prize winning author of Shuggie Bain
"The Mercies took my breath away. A beautifully rendered portrait of a community, a landscape, and a relationship. I read it with equal parts hope and dread. Kiran has masterfully built up an incredible claustrophobic atmosphere, shot through with delicate intimacy." Tracy Chevalier, New York Times bestselling author of Girl With a Pearl Earring
"Elegant and chilling...an absorbing account of women finding power and grace and love even under the most harrowing circumstances." USA Today
"The Mercies smolders more intensely than a pyre, whirling history's ashes defiantly into the wind." NPR.org
About the Author
Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a British author, poet, and playwright. Her debut book, The Girl of Ink and Stars, won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, and British Children's Book of the Year. Her second book, The Island at the End of Everything, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and VOYA. She holds degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and lives by the river in Oxford. The Mercies is her debut novel for adults.