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  • ★★★★☆

The Mercies, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Mercies is a bleak, cold, tale that chills you through and makes you grateful for modern comforts and the distance we’ve come in female autonomy.

It’s set in the most remote northern corner of Norway in 1617. At the start, the island’s male population are all lost in a freak storm, leaving the women of the island to get by alone. But 1617 is the time of witch trials and independent women are suspicious in the eyes of a puritanical church.

It’s the kind of book that made me pour over maps and want to train up in some basic skills. The writing is wonderfully sparse to reflect the nature of the content, and there’s also a pleasing gay love story to keep the chill from becoming too unbearable.

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