The Mercies is inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials. Taking these historical events, Kiran Millwood Hargrave creates a story centered around a community of powerful, independent, strong female characters.
After the storm took the men’s lives in a small Norwegian village in 1617, the women are left on their own. They must find a way to survive and live on their own. Maren is left grieving the death of her father, brother, and fiancé with her mother and sister in law. Through the strength of each other, the women have built a life for themselves without men. We see into their daily lives as they fish, tend to livestock, and plant, and at times, the pace was a little slow going. They have grown strong as a community but not without struggles as they deal with their grief, loss, beliefs, and accepting the differences in each other. Three years later, a Commissioner arrives to see what evil lurks in the women who can survive without men. A witch hunt begins, and we start to see themes of feminism here while exploring oppression. It is easy to draw modern-day parallels to. It also explore organized religion used to control the women and what happens when they don’t conform to it.
The Mercies is an empowering, beautifully written story; however, the author does not shy away from disturbing details. It’s intense thought-provoking, insightful story of love, friendship, evil, power and control with strong women we can learn from! I highly recommend it.