Book Reviews, YA book reviews

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – ARC Review


My Rating ~ Four Stars

RELEASE DATE:  6 February 2019

Format: E-ARC

Pages: 352

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Source:  NetGalley



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 sinister figure arrives. 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.





Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan for providing me with a copy of The Mercies, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!


Sometimes, because I read so many books, I feel like nothing much is unique any more, that I’m reading the same old thing over and over.  The Mercies was NOT one of those books.  Dark, atmospheric and utterly unique, this is a story hard to put into any box.

Set in Finmark in Northern Norway, a tiny town is thrown into chaos when a freak storm takes the lives of almost all the men on the island.  As the women try to fend for themselves, even taking on tasks not permitted for women, such as fishing, the town starts to divide.   Absolom is sent to the town upon rumours of the storm being an act of witchcraft.  Having already been involved in recent witchcraft trials, he is determined to rid the small town of evil.  Once the newcomers arrive, accusations of witchcraft begin to take over the town and only a select few women, Absolom’s new wife included, are willing to try and restore calm.

The Mercies was both a slow burn and a frantic book.  Although the writing was beautiful and descriptive, leading us on a haunting journey through the desperate times of the villagers, it was also thrilling and had my heart in my throat on more than one occasion.

I’d highly recommend picking this one up!




Photo from my Instagram account

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