The Speed of Mercy

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.


“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

“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


In these evocative and startling stories, we meet people navigating the elemental forces of love, life, and death. An insomniac on Halifax’s moonlit streets. A runaway bride. A young woman accused of a brutal murder. A man who must live in exile if he is to live at all. A woman coming to terms with her eccentric childhood in a cult on the Bay of Fundy shore.

A master of North Atlantic Gothic, Christy Ann Conlin expertly navigates our conflicting self-perceptions, especially in moments of crisis. She illuminates the personality of land and ocean, charts the pull of the past on the present, and reveals the wildness inside each of us. These stories offer a gallery of both gritty and lyrical portraits, each unmasking the myth and mystery of the everyday.

You can read a detailed description of Watermark here.


“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 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

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

The Memento

Haunting gothic elements are exquisitely re-imagined in this genre-bending tale of madness, murder and dark secrets set on the rugged Bay of Fundy coast by the acclaimed author of Heave.

The Memento tells the story of Fancy Mosher as she lives and works in the servants’ quarters at Petal’s End, a formerly illustrious private land surrounded by dense forest belonging to the famed Parker family. Since the Great War, the estate has been slowly crumbling at the same rate as the family’s reputation. Fancy grows up listening to her family’s ghost stories and watching the Parkers from a safe distance with her best friend, Art, but the summer she turns twelve she not only learns that her family has been hiding a terrifying truth about who she is and what she is capable of, she also begins to experience firsthand the magnitude of secrets and horrors held within the estate’s walls and buried in its lush gardens–secrets and lies that come to haunt Fancy and the large, fabulous cast of Petal’s End, all of whom refuse to move on from a dying way of life.

Christy Ann Conlin gives us a lyrical and chilling meditation on human nature and the manner of recollection in this captivating story where webs of memories haunt and distort reality and ultimately destroy those who weave them.


“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


Full of wonder and delicate despair, Seraphina Sullivan longs for the world, but she’s trapped, just like Dorothy in Oz. Serrie’s got a nasty secret. It’s festering inside her, because in the gothic Annapolis Valley, you don’t show and you never, ever tell.

As she dashes from her wedding altar on the run of her life, ardently wanting to understand what has brought her to this moment, Serrie sweeps us up in an exhilarating and poignant journey from rural Nova Scotia to London bars, to strip clubs by the docks, through mental hospital wards and rehab centres, back to quiet verandahs and porch swings in serene Lupin Cove. Along the way we meet a delightful array of off-beat characters including Serrie’s best friends, Dearie and Elizabeth: Dearie, the anglicized Acadian who wants to go to New Orleans to find her Cajun relatives, and Elizabeth, who would like nothing better than to spend the rest of her life picking strawberries.

Heave explores the joys and agonies of family, of what one generation inherits from the next, and of how past and present are inexorably linked. Memories weave through the book as Serrie searches for equanimity in a life that intoxicates her with its beauty as it brings her to her knees and lifts her gloriously up again.


Finalist, First Novel

Finalist, Thomas H. Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

Finalist, Dartmouth Book Award

A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book

Globe and Mail bestseller

Toronto Star bestseller

“This is a wildly energetic debut, alive with characters so vivid they very nearly eclipse one of the tenderest, truest depictions of Nova Scotia life and landscape I think I’ve ever read.”
Lynn Coady

“Some books, such as this debut novel…should arrive with the kind of label that come on cigarette packs: WARNING: Excess of Talent, Visceral Reation May Ensue. 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

“Fresh as a Sea Breeze”
Vancouver Sun

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

“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. “
Noah Richler, National Post

“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

“Conlin’s debut is sharp…Her sentences are fluid, long and brim with emotion much like Jack Kerouac’s coming of age stories” New Brunswick Reader

“Conlin recalls J.D. Salinger” The Gazette (Montreal)