Synopsis from Little Brown and Company:
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.
About: The Mercies is a historical fiction written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. It will be published on 2/11/2020 by Little Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette Books, 336 pages. The genres are historical fiction and LGBT. According to the publisher’s website, “Our Vision: To be the #1 destination for authors, agents, customers, client publishers, and employees. To be a respected publisher that values diversity, nurtures talent, rewards success, and honors its responsibilities. To be market focused in all we do, and to lead change in popular culture. To anticipate change, foster creativity, and encourage risk-taking and innovation.” Please see below for more Information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading The Mercies on 1/19/2020 and finished it on 1/29/2020. Reading this book reminds me of my other reads: Where the World Ends and After the Flood. 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 language. I love the historical aspects of this story and the foreign country.
This book started with Maren, 20, told in the third person point of view, when she dreamed of a whale outside her home. Then the story began with Maren’s dad, brother Erik, and fiancé Dag getting on the boat to go out to sea to fish. The storm came hard and fast and rocked all of the boats into the water and drowned all of the strong men from the town of Vardo, Norway. All remained alive are old men, kids, and women. Maren worried that her wish to have more time with her mom and sister-in-law came true because now all the men are gone. She wondered if they can survive without the men, especially since this is the year 1617 and only men went on the boat to fish and it’s frown upon if women do men’s work. The second view is Ursula aka Ursa, 20, a shipowner’s daughter, from another city called Bergen, Norway. She’s about to meet a suitor, a new commissioner for Vardo. After married, she will have to leave her family behind and move to Vardo, a new place she knows nothing and no one.
The Mercies is well written and developed. The story started by introducing readers of characters from two locations in Norway and then it merged when the commissioner and his wife moved to Vardo. I like the humor between Maren and Toril, when she walked by the lady’s blanket, due to dislike, she stomped on it. Even back in 1619, Christianity is strong. They are often praying and dislike anyone to practice witchcrafts to the point of torturing them and killing them. The witch part is hard to read and I dislike people more for doing evil things in the name of God. I have rarely looked up places I read in a fiction book before but I’m glad to know that Vardo and Bergen are real locations on the map! Living on so little that nothing can be wasted. Fish meat is salted while fish bones are made into needles, combs, or for soup. Super cool that this story is based on a true story and I highly recommend everyone to read this book!
Pro: humor, family, Norway, based on a true story, LGBT
I rate it 5 stars!
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. https://www.kiranmillwoodhargrave.co.uk/all-about-kiran/ (Photo obtained from the author’s website and info obtained from Little Brown’s website).