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The Mercies
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About the Author

Kiran Millwood Hargrave (b. 1990) is an award-winning poet, playwright, and novelist. Her bestselling works for children include The Girl of Ink & Stars, and have won numerous awards including the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, the British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year, and the Blackwell's Children's Book of the Year, and been shortlisted for prizes such as the Costa Children's Book Award and the Blue Peter Best Story Award. The Merciesis her first novel for adults. Kiran lives by the river in Oxford, with her husband, artist Tom de Freston, and their rescue cat, Luna.

Reviews

The Mercies is among the best novels I've read in years. In addition to its beautiful writing, its subject matter is both enduring and timely * New York Times Book Review *
Haunting and beautiful in equal measure, The Mercies is an intimate telling of an essential universal story * Irish Times *
A gripping novel inspired by a real-life witch hunt. Hargrave's prose is visceral and immersive; the muddy, cold life and politics of a fishing village leap to vivid life. But her most vital insights are about the human heart: how terrifyingly quickly prejudices can turn into murder, and how desperately we need love and courage to oppose it. Beautiful and chilling -- Madeline Miller, author of Circe
This is a powerful story that gathers ever more momentum as it moves towards its conclusion * Sunday Times *
The most interesting historical fiction speaks of the time of writing as much as of its subject . . . The Mercies shows us the patriarchal fear of women's strength and reason -- Sarah Moss, Guardian
Historical fiction fans looking for a Handmaid's Tale-style twist will love this novel . . . A story of danger, love and power - with Big Offred Energy * Cosmopolitan *
The Mercies is storytelling at its most masterful. This is an exquisite tale of sisterhood, of love, of courage and of what happens when communities turn on each other . . . I raged, I laughed, I cried. I urge you to read this novel -- Elizabeth Macneal, author of The Doll Factory
Extraordinary! -- Jo Whiley, BBC Radio Book Club
Read if you like Circe by Madeline Miller and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel -- Sunday Times Style, 'Best New Books for 2020'
The Mercies took my breath away . . . Kiran Millwood Hargrave has masterfully built up an incredible claustrophobic atmosphere, shot through with delicate intimacy. On finishing it I pressed the book to me, hoping to absorb some of her skill -- Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring
A book for our times . . . Millwood Hargrave is a whirlwind, storm-building talent -- Daisy Johnson, Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of Everything Under
Spun from real-life events, this lyrical novel charts the aftermath of a fatal storm in a 17th century Norwegian fishing village: a town almost exclusively composed of women and girls, and the violent witch-burning newcomer hell-bent on their conversion * Vanity Fair *
Based on real events, this is a stunning, intensely told story about sisterhood, superstition and prejudice * Good Housekeeping *
The Mercies is a gripping tale of love and obsession, inspired by the real events of a storm on the Norwegian island of Vardo in 1617 that prompted witch trials. Absalom Cornet, the man used to bring the women to submission, is a creepy creation by Millwood, in her debut adult novel * i-news *
Elegant and chilling . . . an absorbing account of women finding power and grace and love even under the most harrowing circumstances * USA Today *
This retelling of a historical story follows an isolated community of women accused of witchcraft in Norway in the 17th century. After the men of Vardo island are drowned at sea, the women are left to fend for themselves. The arrival of witch hunter Cornet tests loyalties, reinstates rivalries and fosters friendships, but his brutality threatens everything they hold dear. A dark read filled with suspicion and fear * Psychologies *
A mesmerising, heartwrenching novel which had me desperate for the women of Vardo to win through. A perfect book club choice -- AJ Pearce, author of Dear Mrs Bird
Passionate, stirring and conveying a terrifying atmosphere of claustrophobic oppression, Hargrave's gripping tale of courageous women facing overwhelming odds is helped along no end by the vividness of her bleak island location and her depiction of the dynamics of a God-fearing fishing village as opposing factions struggle for control * The Herald *
With her characteristic tenderness and prose that tides between the carnal and the sublime, Kiran Millwood Hargrave illuminates one of the darkest chapters of our history. In The Mercies, she sweeps us to a place that dazzles and reeks and chills to the bone, where the hearts of women roar louder than storms. She is an outstanding talent, and wherever her imagination sails next, I will follow -- Samantha Shannon, author of The Bone Season and The Priory of the Orange Tree
Both harrowing and beautiful. Through mesmerizing prose, Kiran Millwood Hargrave depicts the brutality of life for women on an isolated island in 1620 Norway during the witch trials. Yet amidst this horror and within the punishing landscape, she creates a set of brilliant characters and a moving love story full of tenderness and hope. This is a book to be savoured and read time and again. -- Jenny Quintana, author of The Missing Girl
Absolutely stunning. The Mercies is a very special book. -- Louise O'Neill, author of Asking For It
I loved The Mercies. It opened up a completely new chapter of history to me, and I loved the way it told its story in such beautiful language. I won't forget this story of these women in a Norway I knew little about. A searing historical novel -- Naomi Wood, author of Mrs Hemingway
Every once in a while, a modern day parable, perfectly told, reflects all that could happen in a world gone mad. Kiran Millwood Hargrave has written a novel for our times with artistry and skill. Maren's story is powerful, at turns, it is disturbing, and ultimately illuminating. You will ponder it long after you finish this magnificent work -- Adriana Trigiani, author of Lucia, Lucia
The first adult novel from the award-winning children's writer begins with one of the most dramatic openings I have read in a long time: it is Christmas eve, 1617, when a shattering storm takes the lives of all the fishermen off the coast of the remote Norwegian island of Vardo. . . Based on the real-life witch trials of 1621, this is an immersive and beautifully written tale. Highly recommended -- Alice O'Keeffe * Bookseller, Editor's Choice *
Kiran Millwood Hargrave effortlessly transports us across hundreds of years and thousands of miles to a tiny Norwegian Island in the early seventeenth century and throws us into the lives and passions of an extraordinary cast of characters . . . deeply unsettling, entirely pertinent to our contemporary lives, and a completely addictive read. I cannot recommend it enough -- Sarah Butler, author of Jack and Bet
On an icy, dark island, men hunt witches and women fight back. Kiran Millwood Hargrave plucks a piece of 400-year-old legal history - a European king's prosecution of 91 people for witchcraft - and gives it a feminist spin. In clean, gripping sentences, the author is wonderfully tuned to the ways and gestures of a seemingly taciturn people. This chilling tale of religious persecution is served up with a feminist bite -- Kirkus (starred review)
Caught me from the very first page and held me right to the end. A vivid evocation of time and place and utterly believable, absorbing characters - I felt I breathed the same air . . . The Mercies is a story that will stay with me -- Helen Walmsley-Johnson, author of Look What You Made Me Do
Dark and menacing, retelling the story of a witch hunt on the isolated island of Vardo, off the coast of Norway . . . Millwood Hargrave slowly builds an atmosphere of suspicion and superstition as new loyalties and old rivalries rear up. Small jealousies, petty misunderstandings and personal dislikes are magnified in the close-knit surroundings, with religion, belief and piety at the heart of disputes * Express *

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