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The Mercies

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4.28  ·  Rating details ·  219 ratings  ·  109 reviews
"Every once in a while, a modern day parable, perfectly told, reflects all that could happen in 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.
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: February 6th 2020 by Pan Macmillan
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Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
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Maureen
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Vardo, Norway, Christmas Eve 1617, a remote northern settlement where a storm of unusually immense and vicious proportions, completely wipes out the menfolk in this small fishing community, leaving the womenfolk bereft and without the means to provide for themselves.

Eighteen months later, the women have become adept at catching fish and are finally able to look after themselves, but their world is about to be turned upside down with the arrival of Absalom Cornet, a God-fearing man who has been
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Emer (A Little Haze)
'The Mercies' is Kiran Millwood Hargrave's first adult fiction novel having previously written both middle grade and YA novels. I had previously read her book 'The Island at the End of Everything' and while I admired her writing in that I was not wholly convinced as the narrative felt too simplistic; a finding I put down to the age category for which the book was primarily written for.

However, my experience with 'The Mercies' could not be more different. I adored this book. The story, the
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karen
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
’I remember once when runes gave you comfort, when sailors came to my father to cast bones and tell them of their time left to come. They are a language, Maren. Just because you do not speak it doesn’t make it devilry.’


back in the reviewing saddle.

so, no—as i anticipated, this was not scary enough to be a true ‘october is spoooooky’ read, and reviewing it in december feels even less spooky, but it is an excellent book nonetheless; female-fronted historical fiction that reminded me of the novels
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Collin
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Norway 1617, the town of Vardo. Maren Bergensdatter and Diinna are just two of the women who have made their way through the slashing rain to the edge of their island to watch a terrible, colossal storm raining down havoc and destruction on the little fishing fleet caught in the middle of it.

Maren and the other women are not aware of the consequences that this storm is going to have on the lives of their island town. As the storm subsides, the women observe the detritus rolling in towards them
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Abbie | ab_reads
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

#gifted @picadorbooks | If you’re at all interested in witchcraft (which I apparently have been this month, and always!) then you’ll want to keep an eye on one of Picador’s most anticipated titles of 2020. The Mercies is set around the 1620s in Finnmark, Norway after a freak accident kills almost all the men in a remote community, which leads the women to become more independent. All of that changes when an infamous Scottish witch hunter arrives with his terrified Norwegian wife, intent
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Calzean
It is a small world. Just 4 weeks ago I was in Vardo which is the scene of this most impressive novel which is based around the true events of a mighty storm that killed 40 men, the persecution of the Sami people and the infamous witches' trials of the early 17th century. There is a strange isolated but beautiful set of memorials at Vardo that pays tribute to the women murdered by the religious fervour, bigotry and fear of the time. The old fort which was the scene of the trials still is manned ...more
Samantha Shannon
I'll let my quote sum up my response to this masterpiece:

‘With her characteristic tenderness and prose that tides between the carnal and the sublime, Kiran Millwood Hargrave illuminates one of the darkest chapters of our history. In The Mercies, she 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.’
Nigel
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, arc
Very well written - very bleak indeed. Full review nearer the time of publication
Alexandra Pearson
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book starts with a storm and builds to a heartbreaking ending. Beautifully written, a story about love and fear and human nature. I don't want to say too much, because it's a story that deserves to be discovered at it's own pace, but it's wonderfully crafted. Read it.
Frances
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely gorgeous book. If you enjoyed Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, you’ll love this. Every page is so descriptive and makes for a really compelling read. If anything, I wish the pace of the ending could have matched the slower pace of the rest of the book as I didn’t want it to end. I don’t want to let these characters go! Highly recommend!
Dennis
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As with all my negative reviews, I won’t go into detail, but the payout for this slow burn just didn’t work for me. I was expecting a lot more from this book, and it really just was “meh” for me. There’s definitely a reader for this book, but it wasn’t this one.
Sara
Jan 01, 2020 marked it as tbr-february
ARC received in exchange for an honest review ...more
Catherine Doyle
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous, dark, compelling, and impossible to put down, I will be recommending this to everyone when it comes out.
Gianna Lorandi
The Mercies is set in Finmark in Northern Norway during the witch trials around the 1620s.
Beautifully written and well researched, it captures the sense of isolation and the eerie atmosphere of place and time. The characters are well formed, specially the strong women of Vardø.
This is a story of hardships, love, trust & fear - it’s heartbreaking.

Thank you NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the advanced copy.
Eleanor
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m ever wary of covers like this one—it’s generally a dead giveaway that the publishers are attempting to ride the Essex Serpent wave, though sometimes (see The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock) it pays off. Millwood Hargrave’s first novel for adults (she’s a successful children’s/YA author) is based on the true story of a freak storm that killed forty men off the coast of a Norwegian island in 1617, and the subsequent imprisonment and trials for witchcraft that the women of the island suffered. Its ...more
Anna Louise
One of my most anticipated books of next year - Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s debut adult novel The Mercies which I was blessed enough to get an ARC of.

And boy did it live up to my expectations!

Her flowery and lyrical writing was perfect for this historical fiction and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store. This book was just pure perfection and I can’t wait for you guys to read it! Highly recommend!

Trigger warnings for loss of loved ones, suicidal thoughts, rape, sexism and some
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Katie Fellows
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Utter brilliance! A best-seller for 2020 that's sure!
Ruth Brookes
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A dark, beautiful & compelling story of cold & bitterness, suspicion & fear, longing & love. This has stayed with me.
Ana
I love every book Kiran Millwood Hargrave has ever written but damn if this hasn't blown them all out of the water
Jen
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-releases
As a fan of Kiran Millwood Hargrave's middle grade novels, I was curious to see how she would approach an adult target audience. From the opening pages, it was clear the transition would be seamless, losing none of the magic of her children's fiction.

This is a wonderfully crafted Nordic novel, atmospheric without ever losing touch of its human heart. It's not a sweeping historical epic, despite its majestic and brutal setting: instead, The Mercies explores the themes of suspicion and trust, love
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Ashleigh Armstrong
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
The storm brings more than just rain! A thrilling tale of change, independence and control! A fantastic narrative with inspirational female protagonists who work to defy the odds!
Daren Kearl
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Mercies is based on true events and is shocking in revealing the tragedy of a small isolated Scandinavian community in 1617 and the fanatic power when given to self-serving individuals with an agenda. Those that have read Hannah Kent's Burial Rites will be familiar with the stark and brutal lifestyle those living in the harshest northern conditions have to endure.

When the entire male population are killed in a sudden storm whilst fishing, the women of the island of Vardo have to collect the
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Jessica Gilmore
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some books linger long after you finish them; the scenes and characters replaying endlessly, thoughts of what might happen next haunting you. The Mercies is one of those books and although it’s a fictionalised account and the characters are indeed not real, it’s based on true events.

It’s Christmas in a remote part of Norway (which may now be Finland) and the women of a small village on a small island watch in horror as a storm blows up out of nowhere and wipes out all the menfolk. Their grief
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Kat
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I first started this book I was immediately taken with the beautiful quality of the writing and I knew then that this was a book I was going to love and I’m full of praise for just stunning it was.
Based in part on some true events the story starts with a storm in which 40 fishermen from the small town of Vardø are drowned at sea leaving just the womenfolk to try and cope with their losses and also to survive. Tensions between the women gradually begin to surface and with the arrival of a
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Munch
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was sent an arc copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.
This was a very atmospheric novel, you can almost feel that you are on the island of Vardo. The cold and isolated lives the people there must have lived. The witch hysteria and the repression of the local beliefs and customs by Christianity has always been an interesting subject for me. You really end up really fearing for the women, the constant possibility that you could be the next person to be accused would
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Mary Rees
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolute triumph of historical fiction which left me enraged, frustrated and tearful, but also feeling proud of the resilience and strength shown by a small group of women to endure and fight against the restrictions and prejudices placed upon them by religiously zealous men, hungry for power and control.
The story centres on the devastating consequences for a group of women left in abject shock following the loss of 40 of their menfolk after a Christmas Eve storm in Vardo, Finnmark
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Sarah
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: proofs, feminism
Thank you to Picador and NetGalley for an advance e-copy of this book.

I really liked the concept of The Mercies, and wanted to enjoy the book more than I did. Hargrave has obviously done a great deal of historical research, and doesn't shy away from the gory details - which was admirable (although also nauseating in parts!). Her writing style - which some have deemed atmospheric - I found overwritten and contrived, so I found it hard to get involved in the book, or care deeply about the
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Helen White
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Set in 1600s Norway this story tells of the island of Vardo and a devastating storm which kills most of the men from the island. An island of women is dangerous as Maren discovers. Her father,brother and betrothed all drowned. She turns to her outspoken friend Kirstin who guides the women to survive for themselves. Yet the arrival of a commissioner and his new wife Ursa turns everything they know upside down. Wanting to help Maren gets closer and closer to Ursa but also closer to her husband as ...more
thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)
Captivating, enthralling, addictive, emotional, chilling, I could go on but you need to go read this for yourself to experience this amazing book. Full of tension, it really does evoke the feelings of a true witch hunt, it’s scarily good. The writing itself is true beauty, I knew a chapter in this was a book and writing I was going to adore. It’s not e book you can truly enjoy, the subject matter is so harrowing, but it’s a true work of classic fiction, it’s a must read especially with the ...more
Imie
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There has been some fantastic historical fiction released recently, and a few that focus on witches, so I was really excited to hear about Kiran Millwood-Hargraves latest book The Mercies, which is her first adult novel. Pan Macmillan heard my squeals of excitement so they sent me an early copy!

What intrigued me the most about this book was that it was not set in the usual places for witch trials. Kiran Millwood Hargrave takes us up north to Vardo, a Norwegian island, to tell a story based off
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Kiran Millwood Hargrave is an award winning poet, playwright, and author.

Her books include the bestselling winner of the British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year and the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2017 The Girl of Ink & Stars, and Costa Book Awards- and Blue Peter Awards-shortlisted The Island at the End of Everything, and The Way Past Winter is forthcoming in October 2018.
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