#BookReview: The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Hi everone,

Today, I share my first review for 202o! This was a free ARC book via NetGalley, and I loved it. I’ll let the book description and the review say the rest >>>

About the Book:

‘A gripping novel . . . Beautiful and chilling’ Madeline Miller, author of Circe

BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick 2020

On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves, the menfolk of Vardø wiped out in an instant.

Now the women must fend for themselves.

Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilized world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardø to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty and terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Mercies is a story about how suspicion can twist its way through a community, and a love that may prove as dangerous as it is powerful.


My Review:

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 transplanted this into spectacularly gripping fiction. I will be looking out for more books from this writer.

As the description shows, this story is set in 1617 and centres around a small island off Norway. The conditions are bleak, and to survive, everyone must pull together. Unfortunately, after tragedy strikes in the form of a deadly storm, zealous witch-hunters break into the new-found and fragile solidarity of the survivors–mostly women–and bring yet more pain and destruction in their determination to dominate. Set amdist this dramatic time and place are two women who discover an unlikely love for one another. This only adds to the tensions and need for secrecy. Another even more deadly storm brews–this one on the earth rather than from the heavens, but no less menacing for its man-made ferocity.

I found the world building, scene setting, plot, pacing, and character development excellent. This was a book I could not put down. Usually, I shy away from historical fiction because it’s just not my thing … The Mercies, however, managed to grab me by the neck and didn’t let go until I’d finished every last word. In short, I loved this book. If you want tension, suspense, a hint of a thriller, and strong female characters, then this is the book for you. Don’t worry about the genre. Seriously, go read this book. I give it a solid five stars and want to see more adult fiction from Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

6 Comments on “#BookReview: The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

  1. Wow! This sounds like an awesome read, Harmony! And the fact that it ties into actual events makes it even more compelling. Thank you for sharing!

    • I loved this book. It’s a long time since I’ve enjoyed a review read this much. Thanks, Jan 🙂

  2. I like the tie-in to an actual historical event. It sounds like you really enjoyed this one. BTW, I actually love the cover! 🙂

    • LOL! Which just goes to show …. tee he hee. This is one of my top reads for a looong time. Thanks,Mae 🙂

  3. I love historical novels, Harmony, provided they are well researched and ring true. This sounds really good. Thanks for the recommendation.