Inspired by the real events of the Vardo storm of 1617, The Mercies is a story about how suspicion can twist its way through a community, and a love that may prove as dangerous as it is powerful. On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardo is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves – the menfolk of Vardo wiped out in an instant.
Vardo is now a place of women. Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilized world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardo to heel.
With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardo, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place flooded with a terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs .