Review: The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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.

I don’t read or enjoy much historical fiction, so I was definitely a little hesitant going into this one. But I really like Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s other work, and I’ve heard great things about this book. I ended up reading this one as part of a buddy read with some friends, which was really nice and definitely made me finally pick this one up! I’ve had this one since the hardback release, and it’s been a long time coming.

Firstly, I’m really glad I picked this one up in autumn. The book itself is quite bleak and it fit the season so well. I started reading this one while it was raining heavily outside and the atmosphere felt so perfect. We start this book with the women of the island losing all of their men to the sea, which I found such a fascinating premise to the book, especially in the historical context.

Many of them seem past caring what is true or not, only desperate for some reason, 

I quickly found myself really liking the characters and the fact this one follows predominantly women as they find their own independence. We follow Maren, who has always lived on the island, and Ursa, who moves to the island with her husband from mainland Norway. Having these two perspectives gave the perfect amount of contrast to the story and kept me interested in both of their stories, and I loved their growing friendship.

I found myself really enjoying the setting and although it makes the book feel very contained, it doesn’t necessarily feel limited. The writing was beautiful and portrayed the story well, and although this book does have quite a few harrowing and bleak scenes, they don’t feel unnecessary and they are there to push the plot forward. I must admit I did occasionally find the plot quite slow and not as engaging as I wanted sometimes. It took me just under a week to read this one, which felt like quite a while for a 350 page book.

some order to the rearrangement of their lives, even if it is brought about by a lie.

Overall, this one was really enjoyable in places, but the writing did let it down in others.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #11

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought or received this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi everybody! I hope you’re all having a lovely Easter weekend, even in the current situation. We’ve had such lovely weather here today, so I’ve been out in the garden catching up on some reading. I’ve also recently received some exciting bookmail, some of which I’ll tell you about now!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, but unfortunately wasn’t a fan of the other two. I’ve also really loved the hardback for a long time, so I gave my paperback set to Courtney a while back and have finally picked up this, the hardback version!

39793796

Goodreads | Waterstones

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.

I had a voucher left over from uni for textbooks which I had managed to get secondhand instead, which meant I could use the voucher for books for me instead! I went a bit crazy, and picked up a signed special edition of this as it’s beautiful and I’ve been seeing it everywhere.

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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