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The Mercies

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4.22  ·  Rating details ·  573 ratings  ·  223 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
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 28th 2020)
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MisterHobgoblin The book is not overtly gay although some of the ideas of women doing things for themselves (and even wearing trousers) might strike a chord with…moreThe book is not overtly gay although some of the ideas of women doing things for themselves (and even wearing trousers) might strike a chord with feminist and/or Lesbian readers. And one of the characters in particular is probably Lesbian although the community didn't really offer an outlet for same sex attraction. (less)

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Average rating 4.22  · 
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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Beata
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Reading this novel was like a feast to me. For one thing, the setting and all details included in this book are splendid. Scenery, clothes, food or architectural descriptions are splendidly researched and woven into the plot.
It is 1617, and a most terrifying storm that caims the lives of forty men begins what turns out to be a harrowing period for the women who are left behind in a small fishing village of Vardo in the north of Norway, and who can either try to survive by setting their own ways
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karen
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
NOW AVAILABLE!!

’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
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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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Lisa
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
[4+] Over the last few days I have been transported to an isolated fishing village in 17th century Norway. When all the able bodied men perish in a storm, women must step into the men's roles to survive. The novel's tension builds slowly and focuses on the relationship between two women, Marin and Ursa, the wife of the new commissioner, whose mission is to find and persecute witches. I loved every moment of my immersion in this beautifully rendered and chilling world!

Thank you to Little, Brown
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Collin
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
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Collin
Feb 09, 2020 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
...more
Dannii Elle
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1617. Norway. A group of women stand, bracing the harsh winds of a sudden storm, as they stare out at sea and watch the broken bodies of their men fling themselves to shore. The only males now left in their society are the very young or the very old; those who did not brave the fickle beast called nature and lose. They are isolated and must rely on themselves and each other if they are to survive the brutal land they call home.

A year passes but grief still lies thick upon their skin. The women
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Jasmine from How Useful It Is
This book is an excellent read! I enjoyed both main characters and dislike Ursa's husband. It makes sense because the author wrote him into an unpleasant man. I like Maren's strengths where she will do a man's job if it meant her family won't go hungry than to follow traditions and rely on others for help. I like Ursa's strengths in a way that she kept silence when her husband doesn't treat her well. This is my first read where the story takes place in Norway with the mentioned of Norwegian ...more
Nigel
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
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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.’
Jessica Woodbury
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it
I have read a lot more historical fiction than usual lately and I've found that I like when it gives a modern spin on things or opens up something I didn't know about before. In some ways, THE MERCIES should work for me because it's looking at a slice of history I didn't know about before: the Vardø Witch Trials in the early 1600's.

At first, I was interested and felt a lot of momentum, but it faded as this turned into the kind of story I had seen many times before, watching a community turn
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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
Bookphenomena (Micky)
4.5 stars

THE MERCIES was all dark atmosphere, engaging story, conspiracies and foreboding. It required my total engagement from the first page and I gave it willingly. The writing was sublime and something special that it could take such a bleak context and turn it into such an exciting read.

Narrated from the POV of two very different young women, THE MERCIES told the story of a remote fishing village at the remotest tip of Norway. It started in the midst of a storm that wiped out the men on
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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
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Emma
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.
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
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Helen Carolan
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was such a beautiful read. 1617 and the women of Vardo have to fend for themselves when their men are killed in a storm. But this leads to divisions with the women. When a new commissioner arrives he brings trouble and fear for the women,for he is charged with rooting out the old superstitions and witchcraft. The divisions among the women lead some to denounce others as witches. In the midst of this commissioner's wife Ursa meets local woman Maren and an intense releationship builds between ...more
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.
Frances
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!
Dennis
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.
Sara
Jan 01, 2020 is currently reading it  ·  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.
Thebooktrail
the mercies set in norway

Visit the locations in the novel link


It’s the moment for stunning covers on books!

The Mercies looked enticing from the start. That cover, yes but also the first few lines of chapter one;

‘The storm comes in like a finger snap. That’s how they’ll speak in the months and years after, when it stops being only an ache behind their eyes and crushing at the base of their throats. When it finally fits into stories.’

Well this is that story…The Mercies is inspired by real events and looks at the events
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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.
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.
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.
Eleanor Wheeler
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
3.5 Stars rounded up for the vibes

Throughout this book, I felt cold and kept having to pile on the blankets. The writing so effectively evoked the feelings of being in a remote Norway setting in the 17th Century - burrrrrr. The writing style took a little getting used to but it added to the atmosphere in terms of the historical and geographical setting making for an engrossing historical fiction.

The book begins with a freak storm killing most (all the able-bodied) men who were fishing from the
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Ashwini Abhyankar
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, tbr-2020
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
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Emily Fordham
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I often forget how much I appreciate a good historical fiction. They can be utterly transportive; captivating and rewarding.
I think I like them even more when they are based around a true story or series of events like this one is. I find real joy in putting the book down and researching the truth for myself- often marvelling at how the author has transformed characters, settings and action so skilfully into essentially a work of art.
The Mercies is based upon the Norwegian witch trials of the
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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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