The Mercies

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Staff Pick! 

Historical fiction set in 1671 on a remote Norwegian island near the Arctic circle. A terrible tragedy occurs, and the small population left alive is almost exclusive female. This is actually two different women's stories, and it is gripping and suspenseful. This is actually based on an actual event! Perfect if you like Madeline Miller, Margaret Atwood,  or Hannah Kent. -- Kathleen


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 Vard 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 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 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 1621 witch trials, The Mercies is a story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization. 

One of the Best Books of the Year (Good Housekeeping)

Product Details

Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Published Date: February 11, 2020
Pages: 352
Dimensions: 6.1 X 1.4 X 9.3 inches | 1.28 pounds
ISBN: 9780316529259