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The Mercies

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  70 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
Expected publication: February 11th 2020 by Little, Brown and Company (first published February 6th 2020)
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  • The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
    The Mercies
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    Release date: Feb 11, 2020
    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 ...more

    Format: Print book

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    Availability: 100 copies available, 2464 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Nov 21 - Dec 13, 2019

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 4.28  · 
    Rating details
     ·  134 ratings  ·  70 reviews


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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
    ...more
    karen
    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
    ...more
    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  ·  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!
    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.’
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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
    ...more
    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
    ...more
    Katie Fellows
    Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Utter brilliance! A best-seller for 2020 that's sure!
    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.
    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  ·  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
    ...more
    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
    ...more
    Kat
    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
    ...more
    Munch
    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
    ...more
    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
    ...more
    Helen White
    Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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 (mythicreader)
    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
    ...more
    Fiona
    Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
    What a powerful novel this is. I had no previous knowledge of the witch trials in Vardo, Norway. The Salem witch trials are widely known about but these events in Vardo seem to have been overshadowed.
    The author really brings this whole sorry period in human history to life with powerful characters, description of the area and meticulous research.
    It is a book that will stay with me. The mark of any good historical novel for me is when I want to learn more about the actual events and this novel
    ...more
    Scarlet Wilson
    Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    A gorgeous, totally atmospheric and compelling story. The characters were so fully-fleshed that I found myself holding my breath at times. I loved the eerie element in the background, along with the suspicions and fears. the bleakness of the Norwegian setting was so strong, and I enjoyed reading a book from an era with events I knew little about.
    ☾ h a d e e r ☽
    Nov 06, 2019 marked it as to-read
    Shelves: tbr-literary
    i have a gorgeous physical arc of this!!!
    Cristina
    Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: queer-lit
    This is a stunning, heartbreaker of a novel. The pace is slow and character-focused (which I don’t mind), the actual witch trials not happening until the last 80 or so pages. Instead the focus is on the women, on their relationships, on how they chafe against men who try to come in and control them, just when they got used to independence. It’s a love story and a tragedy and a historical drama all at once. I did take one star off because I felt that the importance of the Sami people was there ...more
    Cecilia
    Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: netgalley
    The Mercies is Nordic historical fiction at its best..

    A devastating storm brings tragedy to a Norwegian island, causing a shipwreck that kills all the men, leaving the women to forge a life on the island alone. A year and a half later a Scot arrives, sent there to dominate and control the island's women and to return them to their "proper place". Along with him came his young, meek wife who is fascinated by the strong women she finds, and begins to build a strong bond with one of them.

    Absalom
    ...more
    Louise
    Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
    Katherine
    Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    A chilling and captivating book, THE MERCIES is a story of resilience. Taking place in a Norwegian village in the 1670's, it follows Maren, who watched as all the village men died in a storm, and has had to find a way to survive with those losses, as well as the grief that comes with it; as well as Ursa, the daughter of a merchant who was married off to a witchhunter before being brought north. When their paths cross both women's lives are changed forever, and they must find a way to survive the ...more
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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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