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House of Anansi Press

The Speed of Mercy

Written by Christy Ann Conlin

Published March 23, 2021 | ISBN 9781487003401
FICTION / Literary

Cover of The Speed of Mercy

Regular price $24.95 CAD

384 pages | 8 in × 5.25 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

The Speed of Mercy

Christy Ann Conlin

“Dark family secrets, the lore of the sea, and a tender, protective friendship between women all converge in The Speed of Mercy, an unusual and surprising story set in idyllic rural Nova Scotia. With subtle humour, Conlin picks the locks on the long-closed doors of two families and bares the ugly, painful skeletons everyone knew were there but chose to hide.” — Sylvia D. Hamilton, author of And I Alone Escaped To Tell You

The Speed of Mercy captures the unbearable cost of childhood betrayal and what happens when history is suppressed, our past is forgotten — yet finding the truth can change the future. Christy Ann Conlin rips into the myths and stereotypes about older women and those on the edge of conventional society to reveal the timeless gift of mercy in this feminist tour de force.

“Christy Ann Conlin is a conjurer: of place, people, and the haunting past. I was instantly caught up in the darkly mysterious world and indelible characters she has brought to life. Gripping, suspenseful, and lyrically written, The Speed of Mercy caught me by the throat and didn’t let go.” — Alix Ohlin, Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted author of Dual Citizens

About the Author

Christy Ann Conlin

CHRISTY ANN CONLIN is the author of two acclaimed novels, Heave and The Memento. Heave was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the Thomas H. Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, and the Dartmouth Book Award. She is also the author of the short fiction collection Watermark, which was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Forest of Reading Evergreen Award. She lives in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.

Awards and Praise

PRAISE FOR CHRISTY ANN CONLIN AND THE SPEED OF MERCY

“Moving, funny, and propulsive. In prose both lyrical and sharp, compassionate and wise, Christy Ann Conlin delivers a page-turner with a fierce heart at its core.” — Mona Awad, author of Bunny 

“Christy Ann Conlin is a conjurer: of place, people, and the haunting past. I was instantly caught up in the darkly mysterious world and indelible characters she has brought to life. Gripping, suspenseful, and lyrically written, The Speed of Mercy caught me by the throat and didn’t let go.” — Alix Ohlin, Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted author of Dual Citizens

“Dark family secrets, the lore of the sea, and a tender, protective friendship between women all converge in The Speed of Mercy, an unusual and surprising story set in idyllic rural Nova Scotia. With subtle humour, Conlin picks the locks on the long-closed doors of two families and bares the ugly, painful skeletons everyone knew were there but chose to hide. At the end she has you wondering just what mysteries your own family might be hiding.” — Sylvia D. Hamilton, author of And I Alone Escaped To Tell You

PRAISE FOR CHRISTY ANN CONLIN AND WATERMARK

Finalist, Danuta Gleed Literary Award

Finalist, Forest of Reading Evergreen Award

Finalist, The Miramichi Reader’s “The Very Best!” Book Awards: Best Short Fiction

“A sometimes-mystical Gothic in which the horror arises from those closest to us … Watermark is taut, sharp writing.” — Globe and Mail

“Riveting, disturbing tales … Watermark has enough to fascinate and scare throughout.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“A stunning, highly novelistic collection of storiesIn Watermark, Conlin, in keeping with her two previous novels, depicts richly complex characters intersecting with memory and place … Conlin’s language, concise and gorgeously vibrant, seduces readers into her detailed, empathetically imagined worlds … From its first lines, Watermark, a collection like no other, will seize your heart and refuse to let go.” — Hamilton Review of Books

“Eerie and haunting stories.” — Toronto Star

“Rich with humanity and atmosphere.” — Booklist

“These stories are deliciously discomfiting … Suspenseful excavations of family secrets, as smart as they are creepy.” — Kirkus Reviews

“There is purpose, precision, and an incredible haunting darkness, all of which are the reasons why Watermark is such a pleasure to read from cover to cover.” — Pickle Me This

“Conlin’s characters are fierce, lonely, dangerous, and wild. This is the best short story collection I've read in years.” — Annabel Lyon, author of Oxygen and The Golden Mean

“Christy Ann Conlin’s stories achieve a dizzying balance of light and dark — the magical with the murderous. Over and over again, Conlin masterfully depicts the lush, somehow uncanny splendour of high summer only to chill us with a counterbalancing night world of hidden creatures and terrible human secrets. The results make for mesmerizing reading.” — Lynn Coady, author of The Antagonist and Hellgoing

“If you have faith in Flannery O’Connor’s fiction, or if you watch Werner Herzog’s films with a sense of awe, then Christy Ann Conlin’s collection of stories is for you. Equal parts lovely and loathsome, terrifying and tender, this elemental book works with the rawest of raw materials. This is honest and revealing writing from an artist at the top of her craft.” — Alexander MacLeod, author of Light Lifting

Watermark is propulsive. These linked stories are gothic dark and sparking with brilliant twists. Characters so vivid you can hear their voices, feel their pulse. Here are deep psychological fractures and betrayals, loss and longing. Adventure and abandon. Conlin’s characters are a splendidly complex; they are sometimes prisoners, and sometimes breaking free. This book is a dangerous joyride.” — Lisa Moore, author of Caught and Something for Everyone

“From the Gothic heart of the Annapolis Valley to the dreamlike shores of British Columbia, these stories sparkle with wickedness and dark beauty, reminding us again that Conlin is one of Canada’s most daring and original writers. The range and breadth of style and voice in this collection is astonishing, and her gift for the uncanny is as assured as her masterful writing. Whether it’s through the skewed vision of a heartbroken widower or the vivid delusions of an unrepentant killer, she presents a moving and uncompromising exploration of the deep undercurrents of the human psyche, and the tricks that our minds play — on ourselves and each other.” — Kerry Lee Powell, author of Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush

Watermark takes us beyond mere appearances, offering intimate portraits of characters you quickly realize you only think you know. These are powerful stories that tell secrets — that are interested in, and unafraid of, all the messy details that make up a person, a life.” — Johanna Skibsrud, author of Quartet for the End of Time and The Sentimentalists

PRAISE FOR CHRISTY ANN CONLIN AND THE MEMENTO:

“Nothing short of dazzling … The dizzying speed of revelation produces, in its masterly way, the effect of what T. S. Eliot calls ‘genuine poetry.’” — Toronto Review of Books

The Memento is a classic spine-tingler, centering on a haunted house and children hovering between evil and innocence, power and vulnerability … Conlin’s novel lingers on relationships between children and servants, children and their (often absent) parents, and elderly relatives — all within the span of one sultry, sordid summer.” — Globe and Mail

The Memento is a novel of the uncanny, drawing together a coming-of-age story with elements of ghost stories, haunted houses, family curses, and folk tales. It’s a dizzying feat … a masterful accomplishment from a powerful writer.” — Toronto Star

“Expertly weaving gothic elements, maritime superstition, and the lingering effects of grief, The Memento is an eerie return to form — ceaselessly tense until the last page.” — The Coast

“Trust in Christy Ann Conlin. Follow the mythic thread she has expertly woven through this rich labyrinth of a novel and you will be transported. This is the work of a master storyteller operating at the height of her craft.” — Alexander MacLeod, author of Light Lifting

“In this exuberant novel, Christy Ann Conlin offers us a grab bag of gothic delights — a creaking groaning mansion, a precocious twelfth-century-born twelve-year-old, tea parties with the dead, and an unnerving number of fleeting darting “somethings” only glimpsed in the corner of your eye. Wildly imaginative.” — Caroline Adderson, author of Ellen in Pieces 

PRAISE FOR CHRISTY ANN CONLIN AND HEAVE:

Finalist, Amazon.ca First Novel

Finalist, Thomas H. Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

Finalist, Dartmouth Book Award

A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book

“Simply a marvellous book … The writing is fine, smooth, and tight. This is an honest tale of family love and hate … Heave is a powerful book. It’s hard to believe this author is just beginning. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next.” — Globe and Mail

“One book I will not be passing on is Nova Scotian writer Christy Ann Conlin’s marvellous first novel Heave. This book prompted a whelp of excitement from me.” — National Post

“[Conlin] has produced an extraordinary book … that won’t soon be forgotten.” — Toronto Star

“Conlin proves herself a keen observer of family life, adept at teasing out the loose ends and following them to uncover the lumps and knots in the fabric.” — Hamilton Spectator

“Highly visual and visceral prose … Right from the first line Heave is a crazy ride.” — Halifax Daily News