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The Mercies

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  249 ratings  ·  129 reviews
After a storm has killed off all the island's men, two women in a 1600s Norwegian coastal village struggle to survive against both natural forces and the men who have been sent to rid the community of alleged witchcraft.

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Bergensdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: February 11th 2020 by Little, Brown and Company (first published February 6th 2020)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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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
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
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
’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
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Abbie | ab_reads
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
K.S. Marsden
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Maren and Ursa are from very different backgrounds, but they are women in a world run by men. Their friendship is the only bright light, and even that might not be enough to save them.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Maren has grown up Vardø, a small community where the men go out to sea fishing, whilst the women tend the home.
A sudden and ferocious storm kills almost all of their men in a single day.
After the grieving period is done, the aide sent from
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.’
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
‘You think it mercy, what has happened here?’ ‘To think otherwise is a sin.’

Such a tragic tale of love lost and found. Beautifully written, evocative and brutal setting, the claustrophobia and tension of an isolated fishing village captured in grim detail.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, arc
In brief - Very well written - very bleak indeed.

This is set on the remote Norwegian island of Vardø. On Christmas Eve 1617 forty fisherman set out to fish. A sudden, freak and very violent storm kills all of them Among them are Maren's father and brother. She watches it happen. This is her story of the aftermath. The writing immediately creates a feeling of a cold and bleak land where the men who the community depended on are no longer there. What will those who are left do?

There is a real
Alexandra Pearson
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 01, 2020 marked it as tbr-february  ·  review of another edition
ARC received in exchange for an honest review ...more
Catherine Doyle
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous, dark, compelling, and impossible to put down, I will be recommending this to everyone when it comes out.
Julie Brannon
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I want to say this book started as a slow burn, but that
seems insensitive given the subject matter.

This book is really good and I am devastated after finishing it.
Ruth Brookes
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dark, beautiful & compelling story of cold & bitterness, suspicion & fear, longing & love. This has stayed with me.
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.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Katie Fellows
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Utter brilliance! A best-seller for 2020 that's sure!
Ashwini Abhyankar
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tbr-2020, netgalley
So, as usual, I had no idea that this was an actual thing that happened before I read the synopsis of the book and trust me, the fact that the witch trials were real just made me sadder.

The book starts right off the bat with the horrific storm that took the lives of almost all of the men of Vardo. It leaves behind the women who have to start working on their own to survive the winter and it is so vividly shown in the book. The desperation, the grief, the fear of everyone who lost someone. Then
I love every book Kiran Millwood Hargrave has ever written but damn if this hasn't blown them all out of the water
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ashleigh Armstrong
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!
Jessica Gilmore
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Harmony Kent
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to NetGalley and Panmacmillan for a free ARC of this book.

I haven't read any of Kiran Millwood Hargrave's books before this one. The book premise pulled me right in, even if the cover didn't, as the imagery fails to show the brilliance of the narrative.

Apparently, the author has written previously in YA and children's literature. All I can say is that I'm delighted she has now produced an adult book. This is a fantastic read. The author has obviously done her research well and
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Daren Kearl
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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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 , Blackwell's Children's Book of
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