A spellbinding historical novel set near Strasbourg in the 16th Century – inspired by the real events of the so-called ‘Dancing Plague’. In the midst of a blisteringly hot, pestilent summer, pregnant Lisbet tends the bees on her husband’s farm, until the peace is disturbed by the return of Agnethe, her sister-in-law, from seven years’ penance in a nunnery for a crime no one will name. Lisbet is moved by the stoic young woman and becomes determined to discover her secret. Meanwhile, both women are intrigued by rumours of a frenzy of women dancing for days in Strasbourg’s market square, and against a backdrop of mounting religious hysteria and superstition, passions are ignited and dangerous deceptions are uncovered. Simply perfect writing; raw, immersive and compelling, this story will haunt you for days. Review by Gudrun.
I wolfed this astonishing, heart-rending novel down in a couple of days! An entrancing and beautifully-written novel by an author who has hitherto written for teenagers.
‘The Mercies’ is based on the real-life drama of a storm near the fishing village of Vardo in Northern Norway in 1617, which wiped out the male population of the small village, leaving the heart-broken women to fend for themselves, which they do, quite ably, until a Scottish Commissioner is sent North to tame their unseemly ways. The growing friendship between the Commissioner’s young wife, Ursa, and Maren, a feisty village woman, forms the centre-piece of the novel, which gathers pace as the full horror of the Commissioner’s mission becomes clear. An incredible glimpse into the havoc wreaked in a God-fearing fishing village by superstition and prejudice at the time of the Witch Trials.
‘Beautiful and chilling’ – Madeline Miller, author of Circe