“But now she knows she was foolish to believe that evil existed only out there. It was here, among them, walking on two legs, passing judgement with a human tongue.”
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is set in the 1600s in a Norwegian coastal village where, after a storm has killed off all the island’s men, the women are struggling to survive against both natural forces and the men who have been sent to rid the community of alleged witchcraft. The sinister figure leading the hunt is Absalom Cornet who arrives from Scotland after burning witches in the northern isles. Now, two women, Maren and Ursa, are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both. But the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.