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
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.
"In The Mercies, [Hargrave] sweeps us to a place that dazzles and reeks and chills to the bone, where the hearts of women roar louder than storms. She is an outstanding talent, and wherever her imagination sails next, I will follow." Samantha Shannon, author of The Bone Season
"This chilling tale of religious persecution is served up with a feminist bite . . . . In clean, gripping sentences the author is wonderfully tuned to the ways and gestures of a seemingly taciturn people." Kirkus Reviews
"A book not only for our times but for any time in which people have loved and raged and wondered if there was more. Millwood Hargrave is a whirlwind, storm-building talent." Daisy Johnson, author of Everything Under
"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. On finishing it, I pressed the book to me, hoping to absorb some of her skill." Tracy Chevalier, New York Times bestselling author of Girl With a Pearl Earring
About the Author
Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a British poet and playwright, as well as an acclaimed children's author. Her debut book for children, The Girl of Ink & Stars, sold over 120,000 copies in the UK alone, winning the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the British Children's Book of the Year. Her second book, The Island at the End of Everything, was shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award, and 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.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave on PowellsBooks.Blog
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