Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

The Shape of Mercy

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Shape of Mercy (2008) Susan Meissner

I received The Shape of Mercy to review, and when I read the first couple chapters I had a sinking feeling–I don’t typically like books about young women finding themselves. But I knew I’d be getting a sub story about a young Puritan girl who was a victim of the Salem witch trials, so I read on.

And was hooked by the second chapter.

Lauren is a daughter of privilege who feels she has never lived up to her father’s desire for a son. While at college she takes a part time job working with an older woman transcribing the diary of a young woman from Salem who was accused of being a witch. The older woman, Abagail, wants not just a transcription, but a translation from the language of the 1600s to a more modern cadence.

Lauren is not only pulled into the story of Mercy Hayworth, but begins to see parallels in her own life, and into the life of the woman who wants the transcription.

I have to admit that initially what fascinated me most were the “transcribed” diary entries. They provide a look at a time when fear and terror gave power to a handful of teenage girls whose whims condemned nineteen women to hang. What a horrible power, the ability to accuse those you dislike or do not trust, and have them sent to their deaths.

Although the story of Mercy first drew me into the book, I soon became interested in Lauren. I can’t say I understood her, but I started to become interested in her attempts to put give her life some meaning, and to solve what she saw as mistakes and errors on her part.

But the best part of the book really was the story of Mercy, and the discovery of what happened after her death.

Although this book is not one I would normally read, I’m glad I was sent it, because I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will add it to my grandmother’s “to read” list as well. I think she’ll also enjoy it immensely.
Rating: 8/10

Categories: 8/10, Fiction, Paper


Comments (1)



  1. Anne C. says:

    I agree with your rating. I found Lauren’s thoughts about herself to be the most compelling (though her story was nicely done as well) because I think about those kinds of things all the time too. My background isn’t financial wealth, but intellectual “wealth,” and I, too, have thought long and hard about what I use to judge people and why I judge. So the insights she brought up in that vein were well done.
    All in all, a lovely book. I’d go on, but I’d like to post my own review. ;)

    January 8, 2009 @ 12:20 AM

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