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Christmas Eve, 1617 the storm comes in like a finger snapthe sea and sky clashing like a mountain splittingAll about her, other mothers, sisters, daughters are throwing themselves at the weathera final flash of lightning illuminates the hatefully still seaof their men, there is no signPapa used to say that the sea was the shape of their lives They have always lived by its gracebut the storm has made it an enemy.All forty fishermen were killed in the Vardo Storm The w Christmas Eve, 1617 the storm comes in like a finger snapthe sea and sky clashing like a mountain splittingAll about her, other mothers, sisters, daughters are throwing themselves at the weathera final flash of lightning illuminates the hatefully still seaof their men, there is no signPapa used to say that the sea was the shape of their lives They have always lived by its gracebut the storm has made it an enemy.All forty fishermen were killed in the Vardo Storm The women, able to recover the bodies, must store them over the frigid winter until the frozen ground softensbutWhat caused the storm Is it the devilry of the indigenous Sami people who used charms, runes and weather weaving Maren Magnusdatter, 20 years old, had lost her father, brother Eric and her betrothed, Dag, to the storm Diinna, of Sami descent, was married to Eric Despite the press of thumb to her forehead , this did not draw a thread to reel men at sea home again based upon Sami custom.June, 1618 Kindness of neighboring villages aside, we must start to carry ourselves The ice is gone, we have the midnight suntime to fish Eight women, dressed in their dead men s sealskins and capsare consumed by their work Some of the women watch from windows and keenly from the doorway of the Kirke judging, unfavorablyKirsten Sorensdatter takes the lead by caring for and slaughtering reindeer, and by the way, wearing trousers while doing so It might seem ungodly for women to be in charge First, Pastor Kurtsson is sent to Vardo to provide continuing Christian values and additionally bring the Sami into the fold While Maren and Kirsten fish, chop wood and ready fields for planting, Kirke women hang on Pastor s every word.Changes are coming The new independence and self sufficiency of the women is suspect Interest in the pastor s message is waning Suspicion is growing Did witches wreck havoc and cause the harrowing storm To this end, a Scotsman named Absalom Cornet is appointed commissioner to Vardo His job to root out witches by the method of branding, strangling, and burning Sinister Absalom Cornet, a religious zealot who prays fervently, has no tolerance and expects subservience from all women He has brought his bride, Ursa to this harsh land Ursa, a sheltered teenager, finds a friend and confidant in Maren The friendship is unlikely, devotion to each other, beautifully portrayed The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave engendered a plethora of emotions I felt sadness, longing, isolation, love, tenderness, anger and frustration I felt as if I spent time in Vardo with both Maren and Ursa, the principal, well detailed and well written protagonists of this historical fiction tome describing the Vardo Storm of 1621 and the life changes of a group of strong willed, determined women Highly recommended.Thank you Little, Brown and Company and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review The Mercies 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 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 of the novels of jessie burton in its similarly strong character development, its attention to detail, and its perspective of women in a historical context and a time period setting that hasn t already been done to death can we agree that we neverever need to publish another WWII novel The Mercies is based on the real true events which occurred in 1617 in a fishing village located on one of norway s tiny islands when a sudden freak storm came, saw, and conquered assaulting the fishing boats that were just heading out with the majority of the village s menfolk on board, killing forty men in a matter of minutes this brief storm reduced the island s population dramatically, leaving behind only the women and girls, the very young boys and elderly men to survive in an unforgiving climate whose livelihood had depended on their fishermen it was also a time where political power used religious devotion as a tool to get rid of undesirables you know, that one time in history the island s women have very little opportunity for grieving their husbands and sons when their bodies wash ashore, they are collected and stored until the ground becomes soft enough to allow for their burial, and in the absence of able bodied men, some of the women defy convention and take on the necessary task of fishing, to prevent their people starving to death theirs is a village that has been long isolated from the greater world, and has for the most part maintained a perfunctory relationship with religion although some aredevout than others, the island s kirke is as much a town hall for the community to gather as it is a sacred place, and the region s indigenous sami people have contributed their own rituals to the fabric of the village one of these women has even married into the community a woman named diinna, made a widow by the storm, whose family s cultural influence has long been a part of life on the island Her father is a noaidi, a shaman of good standing Before the kirke wasfully established, their neighbor Baar Ragnvalsson and many other men went to him for charms against bad weather They had stopped lately, with new laws brought in to ban such things, but still Maren sees the small bone figures that the Sami say will protect against bad luck on most doorsteps Pastor Gursson always turned a blind eye, though Toril and her ilk urged him to come down harder on such practices.after the storm, in the absence of male influence or supervision, the women step up to fill the void capable, independent, unbound by conventional roles and duties one woman even going so far as to wear her late husband s trousers his TROUSERS the women are adjusting and getting by just fine on their own until the arrival of absalom cornet a scottish commissioner and witch hunter with him is his new wife ursa, a young woman accustomed to city life, luxurious surroundings, and servants unprepared both for the barebones living conditions of the island and the homemaking duties of a wife cornet has been summoned by king s orders to restore godliness to the island and is horrified by the presence of runes and other evidence of heathen savagery he encounters before long, some of thedevout women flutter under his masculine authority, relieved and reassured by a man s presence, and to ingratiate themselves with him, they begin to denounce their less conventional neighbors, in the way of all of history s witch hunting situations unlike salem, where the accused were hung or smooshed by rocks, here they burn witches alive and HOOO the witch burning scene in this book is particularly horrifying the story is carried by maren, who has lost her own betrothed in the storm, and ursa two unlikely women thrown together by circumstance, forming an unexpectedly close, and very dangerous, bond.this is hargrave s adult debut, and it s an impressive one the descriptions were strong, and reminded me of Tidelands the similarly situated themed witch series opener by philippa gregory a hardscrabble existence on a bleak and tiny island where nature is unforgiving and women are at the mercy of powerful men and the gossip of bored or resentful neighbors, women whose reputations could be destroyed with a word or a suspicion unlike gregory s novel, this one has merits apart from the descriptive finesse, most notably in the character development ursa is especially well written a woman wrenched away from her home and her beloved, chronically ill, sister into a marriage arranged out of financial necessity the culture shock of moving from comfortable, although faded, opulence to severe privation the psychological shock of going from being a pampered daughter to becoming the wife of a man of deep religious conviction who is proud and ambitious but without any gentleness to him he has no understanding of how to treat a lady, unless it s a witch he s burning, and the wedding night sequence is excruciating to read, although her long wait for him to come to their room is a beautifully written scene of nervous expectation, ripe with foreshadowing.She removes the chamber pot from sight, slides the warming pan from one side of the bed to the other There are pale stains on the mattress, and the straw has broken through in places She can t face the greying pillow and so wraps her old nightdress about it.She lies ever so carefully, makes sure her hair is about her shoulders the way Agnete told her makes it look like she lies in a field of shining yellow wheat Lamplight comes irregularly from the dock, and through the wooden walls she hears coarse voices speaking English and Norwegian and French and other languages she can t recognize.Beneath is all sits a creaking sound, like their stair at home, or Father s knees when he sits For a long while she can t place it, and wonders if it is inside her own mind But then she realizes it is the ice, relocking about the shipsmaren is also a very strong character although island born and bred, she feelscompassion and patience for ursa than many of her neighbors ursa stands out a pretty flower in a stark landscape, and maren is drawn to her, helping ease her transition to island living, soon understanding that ursa s domestic helplessness is circumstantial, not a result of laziness, and that her life and her marriage are not as pleasant as one might expect learning how much she has sacrificed down to the most essential part of her identitybecause they will use his customs for naming, she is Mistress Absalom Cornet Herself, lost inside his name this is a gorgeous piece of feminist historical fiction, full of female awakening and empowerment, despite the high cost of independence, and there is beautiful and subtle perspective writing as the two women see in each other a reflected kindred spirit, and becometo each other than they could ever have foreseen it s not out for a while, but it s worth waiting for like this review TIL or back in october IL that lapps is apparently an offensive term SPOOKYMONTH WINDS DOWN i have no expectations of this actually being a horror novel, but i won it thru the gr giveaways and it has been patiently waiting for me to finish my horror only october readings, so in these last few days of shocktober witches not horror, but maybe gentle alarm come to my blog #FREE EBOOK ¾ The Mercies î After A Storm Has Killed Off All The Island S Men, Two Women In A S Norwegian Coastal Village Struggle To Survive Against Both Natural Forces And The Men Who Have Been Sent To Rid The Community Of Alleged WitchcraftFinnmark, Norway, Twenty Year Old Maren Bergensdatter 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 Northern Town Of Vard 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 Vard , 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 Pushed Together And 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 Vard S Very Existence Inspired By The Real Events Of The Vard Storm And The Witch Trials, The Mercies Is A Feminist Story Of Love, Evil, And Obsession, Set At The Edge Of Civilization 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 Even then, it doesn t tell how it actually was There are ways words fall down they give shape too easily, carelessly And there was no grace, no ease to what Maren saw Norway, 17th century Isolated from the mainland, the women of Vard , a fishing village, have remaThe 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 Even then, it doesn t tell how it actually was There are ways words fall down they give shape too easily, carelessly And there was no grace, no ease to what Maren saw Norway, 17th century Isolated from the mainland, the women of Vard , a fishing village, have remained alone to support themselves, after a terrible storm that led to the death of almost every man of the village Loyal to the traditions of their homeland, they haven t forgotten to pay homage to the myths of old along with their Christian faith But hostility does live among them, and when a strange man who is actually a witch hunter arrives escorted by his young, frightened wife, danger istangible than ever Whispers of witchcraft get louder and louder and no woman is safe any.Kiran Millwood Hargrave has created an ambitious work, composed of a number of themes often found in today s Historical Fiction novels The era when witch trials monopolized the people s interest, a time when men and women used religion as a means to get rid of the ones who were brave enough to follow their own route, serves as the backdrop for a story of womanhood and bravery.Centred around a beautiful relationship, the strength of Maren and Ursa demonstrates the power of women who are united, supporting each other, protectors and nurturers And we are also shown the results of discord when hostility and envy bring about imminent danger Naturally, men use this to their advantage The writing is beautiful and atmospheric The details of the daily life of women, the chores, their gatherings are depicted to perfection The harsh land, the whimsical sea, the wind, the fire, the traditions, everything that comes in our minds when we think of Norway can be found within the pages of this beautiful novel.However, there are a few problems, in my opinion I felt that the story became easily predictable, especially if the reader has read tons and tons of Historical Fiction There are many repetitive references to Ursa s past in Bergen and, truthfully, I am quite tired of seeing the trope of ugly sex between wives and husbands It s been done to death and modern writers are not D.H.Lawrence The most important problem I faced was the dialogue At times, it seemed a victim of the syndrome of the YA writer who decided to write a novel for adults It is not as jarring as in other similar cases, but it is there The Mercies is oneexample of a successfully constructed Historical Fiction novel that inserts contemporary issues in fine unison with History without being too modern or implausible Populated with interesting characters, centred around two marvellous women and their relationship, rich in Norwegian atmosphere It may not be perfect, but we sure do neednovels such as thisShe knows what they are hallowed ground, blessed by a man of God, holding naught but the remains of their men But here, with the wind whistling through the open channels of their island, and the lit houses at her back, walking towards them seems as ill fated as stepping from a cliff She imagines them crashing up, thrashing down and the world seems to rock beneath her feet My reviews can also be found on Finmark, Norway, 1617 in the fishing town of Vardo, a storm sweeps in, causing the deaths of forty men All the names left are the elderly, the very young and the village cleric Now, the women must fend for themselves, which presents a huge problem Women are not supposed to wear pants not rushing boats.I finished this book a few days ago and it hasn t left my thoughts The atmosphere is so immersive, the characters so well drawn Maren is a young 22, but capable and free thinking Ursa, not us Finmark, Norway, 1617 in the fishing town of Vardo, a storm sweeps in, causing the deaths of forty men All the names left are the elderly, the very young and the village cleric Now, the women must fend for themselves, which presents a huge problem Women are not supposed to wear pants not rushing boats.I finished this book a few days ago and it hasn t left my thoughts The atmosphere is so immersive, the characters so well drawn Maren is a young 22, but capable and free thinking Ursa, not used to this life, nor her sudden marriage to a man who has been sent to weed out witchcraft Some of these women show surprising strength and work together for their survival Some as always are jealous and willing to label those who have , as witches Marens sister in law, now a widow with a young son, is a Sami and these are people whose customs and runes are suspicious.This book doesn t spare one in it s descriptions of the smells and sounds, nor the beliefs of those in the village The tone is tense and builds as the story progresses, as the danger becomesapparent Although there names may not be real, what happens here is actual history, as the author note explains She also explains how and why the witch trials were happening in various countries and villages A horribly, tragic time and one well documented in this novel Reminiscent of the novel, Burial rites, but with its own character and flavor.ARC from Netgalley The Mercies is inspired by the real events of the Vardo Storm and the 1621 Witch Trials on the Norwegian Island of Vardo A Beautifully written and vivid story I was swept up in the storytelling of Kiran Millwood Hargrave and the plight of the people left behind after the storm A vivid and compelling plot with ingesting and believable characters make this such a compelling story On Christmas Eve in 1617, the sea round the remote Norwegian Island of Vardo is thrown into a reckless strom As Ma The Mercies is inspired by the real events of the Vardo Storm and the 1621 Witch Trials on the Norwegian Island of Vardo A Beautifully written and vivid story I was swept up in the storytelling of Kiran Millwood Hargrave and the plight of the people left behind after the storm A vivid and compelling plot with ingesting and believable characters make this such a compelling story On Christmas Eve in 1617, the sea round the remote Norwegian Island of Vardo is thrown into a reckless strom As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fisherman, including her father and brother are lost to the waves, the menfolk wiped out in an instant Vardo is now a place of women Eighteen months later Absalom Cornet is summoned to the Island and his control and suspicions of witchcraft bring a new kind of terror to the Island This a beautifully imagined piece of historical fiction taking a little known event and creating and imagining a story that was touching and a memorable read The cruelties of the times are well depicted and for the last 50 pages of the novel I was totally engorssed and memorised by the story and really didnt want this one to end I am so happy I purchased a hard copy of this one as its a lovely addition for my real life book shelf I think readers who have enjoyed novels like or will enjoy this one too Based on real events, THE MERCIES is a riveting book about what powerful men back in the 1600 s would do to quiet independent women Set in the remote town of Vardo in Northern Norway, a storm hits while all 40 men in the village perish while fishing The women must fend for themselves to survive in the harsh environment Some women look at the storm suspiciously while others prove their strength by setting out to feed the community This is an era of male domination A self righteous zealot wit Based on real events, THE MERCIES is a riveting book about what powerful men back in the 1600 s would do to quiet independent women Set in the remote town of Vardo in Northern Norway, a storm hits while all 40 men in the village perish while fishing The women must fend for themselves to survive in the harsh environment Some women look at the storm suspiciously while others prove their strength by setting out to feed the community This is an era of male domination A self righteous zealot with a history of burning witches is brought in from Scotland Along the way he picks up a young wife whom he has never met and brings her to this bleak landscape.This is the story of that gentle wife and the friendship she develops It s about the tragic circumstances that come to Vardo in the form of a religious fanatic and the superstition and jealousy of some of the women It s about love, hate, betrayal, evil, and self sacrifice.THE MERCIES plays on many of our emotions from anger, to a feeling of foreboding and the loss of those that are good It is a stunning and beautifully written book.4.5 stars out of 5 Based on a horrific true story of witchcraft deaths in FinlandThe Mercies starts with a catastrophe, the deaths of 40 fishermen in a sea storm off the tiny village of Vardo in northern Finland in 1617.This horrific, treacherous storm killed all the able bodied adult men of the town in one fell swoop.The women and children are left bereft How are they to eat, to live, without their men In tandem with the Vardo story is one of a young girl who is given in marriage by her father to a total strange Based on a horrific true story of witchcraft deaths in FinlandThe Mercies starts with a catastrophe, the deaths of 40 fishermen in a sea storm off the tiny village of Vardo in northern Finland in 1617.This horrific, treacherous storm killed all the able bodied adult men of the town in one fell swoop.The women and children are left bereft How are they to eat, to live, without their men In tandem with the Vardo story is one of a young girl who is given in marriage by her father to a total stranger and a foreigner She has to leave with him to go to Vardo within a few days of their betrothal and marriage She has barely spoken to him and finds their union painful physically and mentally as she has to cut herself off from her beloved home and sister.As the two stories are united, we begin to fear for the innocent victims of the cruel and diabolical men who want to stamp out tradition, foreign ways and the spirits of strong women 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 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 or who may perish due to the lack of fish, fur or grain Choosing survival paradoxically brings about damnation upon the bravest of them all, Kirsten Those were the days of new laws introduced by King Christian, following strict Cavinist rules, days of witch hunting in the tradition set by James I, days of fear of the unknown, days of rooting out thousand year old traditions of the indigenous inhabitants, days of the male domination and female submission.I found this novel totally unputdownable, with the stories of Kirsten, Maren and Ursa and with the depictions of the landscape and harsh lives in those days While reading I was no longer in my sofa, I was out there, with Ursa attending to her suffering sister, with her on the ship, in the kirk of Vardo and on the cliff looking out for the whale which comes to Maren in her dreams I believe it is a genuine gift on the part of the author to write in such a way.I definitely recommend The Mercies as it is historical fiction in every aspect and will send chills down your spines One of the best HF I have read in years 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 bedifferent I adored this book The story, the charac 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 bedifferent I adored this book The story, the characters, the pacing, the emotion Simply fantastic The book is inspired by real events and traces the events that unfolded in a small community in Norway in and after 1617 and focuses on how the people of Vard dealt with the aftermath of a terrible storm that claimed the lives of forty fishermen practically the entire community s male population Primarily, the novel follows the stories of two young women, Maren and Ursa Maren is originally from Vard and has lost both her father and brother to the storm and the man to whom she was betrothed The loss of her menfolk forced Maren to move outside the expected role of a woman in those times and particularly along with her friend Kirsten had to redraw the lines of what women could and could not do e.g take on a male role such as going out to sea fishing to provide for the community.Meanwhile in another part of Norway, Ursa is a young woman caring for her poorly sister when her father tells her that she is to be married to a man named Absalom Cornet Together with her new husband, Ursa moves to the community of Vard where Absalom has been granted the role of commissioner and is tasked with bringing religious order and righteousness to this community And what follows is a story of mistrust, fear, propaganda and bigotry as it becomes apparent that Absalom is a man keen to accuse anyone that doesn t follow his zealous beliefs a witch or somehow involved in evilness and witchcraft This was such an incredibly interesting book to read From the opening page I was immediately hooked The atmosphere that Millwood Hargrave creates in this novel is palpable There is such a delicious air of tension and an almost eerie ethereal quality to the prose When required the prose is perfectly spartan to illustrate the bleakness of the Norwegian climate and then at times it can become so wonderfully rich and deep when describing the characters emotions and motivations And the main characters of Maren and Ursa are truly beautifully written They feel so alive, so vital amidst this bleak terrain And I really did just fall in love with them both and their relationship with each other This book is so wonderfully subtle at times that it gives the story and the characters the perfect chance to really blossom as the pages go by And once the climax of the major storylines are reached it s so painfully heartbreaking that I challenge anyone not to be deeply moved by the story of these two women and the women of Vard that were so callously accused of witchcraft for simply being independent, free thinkers and or from an indigenous community This is a wonderfully written historical fiction that shines a spotlight on a less well known era of witch trials It gives such voice and agency to female characters and makes this time period and these characters truly feel alive and thusly, I am rating this four and a half stars Rounded to five An e copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Picador, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviewForreviews and book related chat check out my blog