Burial Rites [NOOK Book]

Overview

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted ...
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Burial Rites

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Overview

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Agnes Magnúsdóttir is no longer, needless to say, a household name. In her own day and country, however, the Icelandic servant sentenced to execution for a double homicide in 1829 was notorious as an accused witch and whore. British writer Hannah Kent made Agnes the subject of this debut novel, but interest in this fiction resides in much more than the story of a condemned woman counting out her last days. In fact, the responses of the farm family and priest around Agnes hold our attention almost equally. Already an award-winning fiction in the UK, Burial Rites deserves wide readings on this side of the Atlantic. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

Library Journal
Australian writer Kent marks her literary debut with a retelling of real-life events from 1828, Iceland, when Agnes Magnusdottir and two others are convicted and sentenced to death in a brutal double murder thought to have been motivated by greed and jealousy. The murderers were servants, assistants, and sometime lovers to one of the victims, wealthy and well-known herbalist and healer Natan Ketilsson. As Iceland's primitive prison system is ill equipped to house death row inmates, a local farm family is prevailed upon to board Agnes until the date of her execution. They are also expected to extend hospitality to the Assistant Reverend Thorvardur (Toti) Jonsson, whom Agnes chooses as a spiritual adviser. Over many chilly months, with Agnes working alongside the farmer's wife and daughters in their fields and close living quarters, her version of events emerges. As her story unfolds, her hosts' fear and loathing turn to empathy and understanding. VERDICT In the company of works by Hilary Mantel, Susan Vreeland, and Rose Tremain, this compulsively readable novel entertains while illuminating a significant but little-known true story. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/18/13.]—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
Publishers Weekly
Kent’s debut delves deep into Scandinavian history, not to mention matters of storytelling, guilt, and silence. Based on the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the novel is set in rural Iceland in 1829. Agnes is awaiting execution for the murder of her former employer and his friend, not in a prison—there are none in the area—but at a local family’s farm. Jón Jónsson, the father, grudgingly accepts this thankless task as part of his responsibility as a regional official, but his wife and daughters’ reactions range from silent resentment to outright fear. After settling in to the household, Agnes requests the company of a young priest, to whom she confesses parts of her story, while narrating the full tale only to the reader, who, like the priest, “provide her with a final audience to her life’s lonely narrative.” The multilayered story paints sympathetic and complex portraits of Agnes, the Jónssons, and the young priest, whose motives for helping the convict are complicated. Kent smoothly incorporates her impressive research— for example, she opens many of the chapters with documents that come directly from archival sources—while giving life to these historical figures and suspense to their tales. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Sept.)
Geraldine Brooks
"Here is an original new voice, with a deep and lovely grasp of language and story. Hannah Kent's first novel, BURIAL RITES, is an accomplished gem, its prose as crisp and sparkling as its northern setting."
Megan Abbott
"Hannah Kent's BURIAL RITES shows how a seemingly simple tale-a murder, a family, a remote landscape-can prove mythic in scale in the right hands. Spell-binding and moving, it's the kind of novel that gets under your skin, moves your blood, your heart. A bravura debut."
Shelf Awareness
"Deeply emotional [and] gripping.... A cross between the grim, moorish atmosphere of Wuthering Heights and the cold, religiously-infested repression of a Bergman film, Kent's novel emerges alive, triumphant and sublimely poetic."
Joanne Wilkinson
"Rarely has a country's starkness and extreme weather been rendered so exquisitely. The harshness of the landscape and the lifestyle of nineteenth-century Iceland, with its dank turf houses and meager food supply, is as finely detailed as the heartbreak and tragedy of Agnes' life.... [A]haunting reading from a bright new talent."
Steph Opitz
"If you read nothing else this fall, read BURIAL RITES: The pages turn themselves."
Charlotte Rogan
"Hannah Kent's gorgeous and haunting BURIAL RITES will touch your heart."
Madeline Miller
"So gripping I wanted to rush through the pages, but so beautifully written I wanted to linger over every sentence. Hannah Kent's debut novel is outstanding."
Anne Berry
"A compelling read, heart-breaking and uplifting in equal measure."
Barbara Love
"In the company of works by Hilary Mantel, Susan Vreeland, and Rose Tremain, this compulsively readable novel entertains while illuminating a significant but little-known true story. Highly recommended."
Karin Slaughter
"Debut author Hannah Kent has crafted a gorgeous, literary novel that peppers in just the right amount of suspense. I loved this story not just because of its intricate character studies, but for its evocation of a cold and formidable landscape that is just as stark as the people who inhabit it. This compelling, ripped-from-real-life tale reminds me of Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace with a dash of Lizzie Borden thrown in. BURIAL RITES is the sort of novel that stays in your head long after you've finished reading the last words."
Lucy Scholes
"BURIAL RITES is a debut of rare sophistication and beauty - a simple but moving story, meticulously researched and hauntingly told."
Entertainment Weekly
"A brooding, atmospheric debut."
SheKnows.com
"Offers lovers of historical fiction a stunning new setting in which to become immersed.... Kent's powerful and beautiful prose along with Agnes' fascinating story will hook readers and not let them go."
The New Yorker
"Gorgeously atmospheric.... [with] memorable, complex characters."
Nicholas Mancusi
"Kent displays a talent beyond her years, not only in her restrained and often beautiful prose...but also in matters of structure and pacing."
Jenni Herrick
"Beautiful and compelling.... Hannah Kent brings Agnes vividly to life.... This meticulously researched novel is a multidimensional saga spanning many months and told through the eyes of numerous narrators. It paints an extremely descriptive picture of the harsh, desolate Icelandic countryside and the isolated lives of a rural family living in the distant 19th century."
Thomas Chatterton Williams
"A gripping narrative of love and murder that inhabits a landscape and time frame as bleak and unforgiving as the crime and punishment that occurred there."
Claire Luchette
"The story of Agnes' execution is the spark that sets Kent's novel beautifully ablaze.... It's a difficult task to evoke empathy for a convicted murderer from Iceland, but Kent succeeds through her beautiful, lyrical language and incredibly skilled narrative.... In this, her first novel, she proves her gift as a sculptor of narrative and a wielder of words."
Susannah Meadows
"An excellent premise.... [and] a gripping tale about what Agnes was actually guilty of."
Yvonne Zipp
"A haunting portrait of the woman beheaded in Iceland's final execution.... with echoes of Booker Prize-winner Margaret Atwood's 1997 novel, Alias Grace...."
San Francisco Chronicle
"Atmospheric, stark and beautiful."
Kacy Muir
"Kent adds such vivid and creative depth to authentic figures that readers seemingly feel the plot becoming a part of the true history."
Carolyn Mason
"Meticulously researched, this chilling account is set in a starkly beautiful part of Iceland that's as remote and heartbreaking as the haunting page-turner itself."
San Diego Union Tribune
"A spectacular literary debut. Beautifully written with a great sense of place..."
Steve Donoghue
"Bleak and beautiful.... Kent handles her starkly austere story with uncanny precision and an utter lack of sentiment."
Sam Sacks
"Enticing.... Kent...convincingly animates Agnes...showing her headstrong humanity and heart-wrenching thirst for life."
Rory O'Connor
"Stunning.... [Kent] manages to balance darkness and light as carefully as it balances life and death."
Randy Dotinga
"A sensation among book reviewers drawn to its depiction of the struggles of a gritty people and a doomed woman amid a harsh landscape."
From the Publisher
"An excellent premise.... [and] a gripping tale about what Agnes was actually guilty of."—Susannah Meadows, The New York Times

"A haunting portrait of the woman beheaded in Iceland's final execution.... with echoes of Booker Prize-winner Margaret Atwood's 1997 novel, Alias Grace...."—Yvonne Zipp, MLive

"Kent skillfully reconstructs events."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Kent adds such vivid and creative depth to authentic figures that readers seemingly feel the plot becoming a part of the true history."—Kacy Muir, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

"Meticulously researched, this chilling account is set in a starkly beautiful part of Iceland that's as remote and heartbreaking as the haunting page-turner itself."—Carolyn Mason, DailyCandy

"A spectacular literary debut. Beautifully written with a great sense of place..."—San Diego Union Tribune

"Bleak and beautiful.... Kent handles her starkly austere story with uncanny precision and an utter lack of sentiment."—Steve Donoghue, Washington Post

"Enticing.... Kent...convincingly animates Agnes...showing her headstrong humanity and heart-wrenching thirst for life."—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

"Stunning.... [Kent] manages to balance darkness and light as carefully as it balances life and death."—Rory O'Connor, Examiner

"Atmospheric, stark and beautiful."—San Francisco Chronicle"A sensation among book reviewers drawn to its depiction of the struggles of a gritty people and a doomed woman amid a harsh landscape."—Randy Dotinga, Christian Science Monitor

"Kent brings a bleak beauty to this grim tale, her prose illuminating the stark landscape of the far north and the deepest recesses of a woman's soul."—Donna Marchetti, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A cool, atmospheric, historical thriller.... This page-turner will transport you to another place and time, and Agnes's fate will consume you to the very last page."—Deborah Harkness for Parade

Kirkus Reviews
With language flickering, sparkling and flashing like the northern lights, Kent debuts with a study of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, an Icelandic servant convicted of an 1828 murder. The murder was horrific: two men bludgeoned, stabbed and burnt. Agnes and two others were convicted, but sentences--Agnes was to be beheaded--require confirmation by Denmark's royal government. Kent opens her powerful narrative with Agnes, underfed and unwashed, being moved from district capital imprisonment to Kornsá, a valley farmstead. Stoic, dutiful Jón and his tubercular wife, Margrét, are forced by circumstance to accept her charge. Reflecting intimate research, the story unfolds against the fearsome backdrop of 19th-century Icelandic life. It's a primitive world where subsistence farmers live in crofts--dirt-floored, turf-roofed hovels--and life unfolds in badstofa, communal living/sleeping rooms. Beautiful are Kent's descriptions of the interminable summer light, the ever-present snow and ice and cold of winter's gloomy darkness, the mountains, sea and valleys where sustenance is blood-rung from sheep. Assistant Rev. Thorvardur has been assigned to "direct this murderess to the way of truth and repentance," but he is more callow youth than counselor. His sessions with Agnes come and go, and he becomes enamored of Agnes and obsessed by her life's struggles. Kent deftly reveals the mysterious relationship between Agnes, a servant girl whom valley folk believe a "[b]astard pauper with a conniving spirit," and now-dead Natan Ketilsson, a healer, some say a sorcerer, for whom she worked as a housekeeper. Kent writes movingly of Natan's seduction of the emotionally stunted Agnes--"When the smell of him, of sulphur and crushed herbs, and horse-sweat and the smoke from his forge, made me dizzy with pleasure"--his heartless manipulation and his cruel rejection. The narrative is revealed in third person, interspersed with Agnes' compelling first-person accounts. The saga plays out in a community sometimes revenge-minded and sometimes sympathetic, with Margrét moving from angry rejection to near love, Agnes ever stoic and fearful, before the novel reaches an inevitable, realistic and demanding culmination. A magical exercise in artful literary fiction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316243902
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 9,446
  • File size: 662 KB

Meet the Author

Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. As a teenager she travelled to Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, where she first heard the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir. Hannah is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and is completing her PhD at Flinders University. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award. BURIAL RITES is her first novel.
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Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Hannah Kent, Author of Burial Rites

Burial Rites is based on the true story of an Icelandic woman convicted of murder. When did you first hear about Agnes Magnúsdóttir?

I first heard about Agnes Magnúsdóttir ten years ago, when I was living in Iceland as a seventeen-year-old exchange student. The first few months of my stay there had been quite difficult. I was living in a small Icelandic town where I felt conspicuous as a foreignor, yet also socially isolated. I didn't speak any Icelandic at that stage, it was winter, and the days were gripped by darkness for up to twenty hours at a time. It was during this early period of loneliness that I happened to drive through a very striking place called Vatnsdalur, a valley covered in hundreds of small hills. When I asked my travelling companions if the area was significant for any reason, they told me that it had been the site of the last executions in Iceland, which had taken place well over 150 years ago. Immediately curious, I asked them what had happened, and was told that a young man and woman had been led out to the hills and beheaded by broad axe for their role in the brutal murder of two sleeping men. It seemed like a dark and tragic tale, yet there was something that deeply intrigued me about the woman they mentioned: a 34 year-old servant woman called Agnes. For some strange reason I felt a kinship with her. Possibly I saw a fragment of my own experience of loneliness and social isolation in her story then, for it resonated with me immediately. I thought of her frequently during the rest of my exchange (which ended up being absolutely wonderful), and in the years that followed I realised I had many burning questions about the murders and about Agnes' role in them. I wanted to know what circumstances contributed to such a sorrowful fate, and what sort of woman she had been.

What compelled you to eventually write a novel about her?

While I had been immediately curious about Agnes on first hearing about the executions, it was some years before I decided to write a novel based on her story. In an early attempt to answer the persistent questions I had about the murders and execution, I did a little light research and began translating and reading a few articles about the case. While I soon discovered more details about the crime, something about the records troubled me: in many accounts of the murders Agnes was either portrayed as an unequivocally evil woman, or was hardly mentioned at all. Where I looked for her character, I found only a monstrous stereotype. My decision to write about Agnes was triggered by a longing to find the real woman behind the grotesque caricature of a black-hearted manipulator. It was never a desire to re-open the case in the hope that she was actually innocent. I wanted to instead discover something of her life story, and in doing so explore her ambiguity and complexity.

What kind of research was needed to accurately portray nineteenth-century Iceland?

More than I could ever have anticipated. I read a huge amount of material - everything I could get my hands on - to become familiar with what life was like in nineteenth-century Iceland. Not only did I study history books, but I also read diaries by foreign travellers to the country, fiction by people such as Halldór Laxness, many scholarly articles with very dry titles like 'Infant Mortality in Nordic Countries, 1780-1930', song lyrics, recipes, old newspapers - if it was about Iceland, I read it. It was an enjoyable process, but a slow one: most sources required translation before I could even gauge their usefulness. In the end, the most difficult things to research were aspects of mundane domestic life. What did people eat? Did they celebrate birthdays? If so, how? What were their shoes made out of? Did the men shave or grow beards? Did everyone use chamber pots and how heavy would one be? These are the things a historical novelist needs to know, sometimes even more so than the political climate or social customs, although these things are important too.

I also spent six weeks researching in Iceland's national archives and libraries, where I was able to study censuses, ministerial records and 'soul registers', and where I learned most of the facts of Agnes's life. I also spent some time visiting the places where the novel is set. It was a very intense, very rewarding process, and as I researched the times that Agnes lived in, I found myself drafting scenarios and scenes that were suggested to me by my reading. Some of this imaginative speculation later mirrored the actual facts of her life with eerie resemblance. Overall, it took me about two years of full-time research and study before I felt confident enough in my knowledge of the events and that time in Iceland's history to begin writing.

Is the novel largely fact, or is a significant portion direct from your imagination?

The relationship between fact and fiction is a close and complicated one in Burial Rites. When I decided to write a novel about Agnes Magnúsdóttir and the historical events surrounding Iceland's last execution, I promised myself that I would honour every fact that could be corroborated. In other words, I decided to keep my imagination on a leash, only giving it free reign when the facts contradicted one another, or were nowhere to be found. That said, everything in the novel is somehow anchored to my research, even if it's largely fictional. I never discovered what exactly Agnes was doing from the age of 6 to 16 for instance (the records for those 10 years were destroyed), but my wider research into the lives and experiences of other pauper and illegitimate children informed my speculation. Every creative decision, every fictional aspect of the novel can be directly linked to something I encountered in my reading.

Interestingly, the stranger elements of Agnes's story are the parts that I have not fictionalised. For instance, several characters have important dreams which are discussed in the novel, and form part of the narrative. All of these dreams were taken from several local histories and accounts of the murder - none were made up. It's astonishing what some people think to write down, and what else is neglected. In many ways I think of the novel as a speculative biography. It's only a suggestion of how things might have been, but it is informed conjecture.

The Icelandic landscape has a large presence in the novel. What role does it play, and what impressions has it left on you?

It would be impossible to write an Icelandic story without including the country's landscape. I've never been anywhere else in the world where the natural world is made even more beautiful through its inherent hostility. The weather, the mountains, the northern sky - it all has a presence that cannot be ignored or shut out as it can be in other places. The very light of the place commands your attention. Living there, you find your days shaped by the natural world in ways that it does not in other countries, whether it's the midnight sun preventing you from sleeping with its warm blush coming through your curtains, or a howling gale shutting you inside for days on end. I think the lack of trees contributes to this unusually strong presence of the land and weather. The view is often unobscured, and when you stand in that landscape, amongst the valleys and mountains and fjords, you realise that you too are visible for miles. It creates a mixed yet exhilarating feeling of vulnerability and awe.

When I researched Burial Rites I often came across references to the landscape in letters and diary entries. People would agree to meet at a certain time or place 'weather permitting'. It was a constant phrase, and I slowly realised the extent to which people's lives were governed not only by the seasons, but by day-to-day rainfall, winds, northern lights. I wanted to make sure I captured the force of the Icelandic landscape in Burial Rites, whilst also honouring its splendour.

How do Icelanders feel about this book?

I have had only support from Icelanders so far, which is wonderfully assuring. From the archivists, librarians and locals who assisted me in my research, to those who have got in touch with me since the book has been released, everyone has so far been enthusiastic about my novel. Many are simply curious to know why a young Australian chose to write about events so far away in time and place from her own experiences. No doubt that there will be a number of Icelanders who disagree with the way in which I've portrayed characters (some may be descendants of the historical people they're based on afterall), but I can accept that. I haven't set out to offend anyone, or to subvert a well-known story for the sake of controversy. I hope they see this book as the 'dark love letter to Iceland' I intend it to be.

Who have you discovered lately?

I am completely in awe of Eleanor Catton. I read her debut novel The Rehearsal earlier this year, and was stunned by its originality and ambition. She's young, but the quality of her prose suggests an extraordinarily mature intellect: it is staggeringly good. I'm currently reading her second novel, the Man Booker longlisted The Luminaries, and am once again taking huge pleasure in Catton's use of language and her artful command of structure. I've also been reading the Patrick Melrose quintet by Edward St. Aubyn, and have been recommending the series to anyone who will listen. Acerbic, horrifying and filled with darkly funny observations, St. Aubyn's books are filled with characters so vile, so hideously malformed by their own self-interest and self-righteousness, that you cannot possibly put them down. As soon as I finish the final novel I have plans to read them all over again.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The year is 1828 and Agnes Magnusdottir, along with two others,

    The year is 1828 and Agnes Magnusdottir, along with two others, has been condemned to die by beheading for the murders of two men. But the government has spent too much money on the axe to be used for the beheadings, and they can't afford the upkeep of the prisoners until their execution. So Agnes is sent from the prison to the home of Jon Jonsson of Kornsa, the District Officer of Vatnsdalur, and his wife Margret. They are ordered, as part of his duty as District Officer, to take charge of Agnes until the date of her execution. The family is not happy about these orders, but feel they have no choice but to perform their duty.

    This novel is a fictional story based on actual events. As the author explains in her Author's Notes: "Agnes Magnusdottir was the last person to be executed in Iceland, convicted for her role in the murders of Natan Ketilsson and Petur Jonsson on the night between the 13th and 14th of March 1828, at Illugastadir, on the Vatnsnes Peninsula, North Iceland." Many of the events int he book are drawn from local history and lore.

    Little by little, the life of Agnes is laid bare to the reader, and as heartbreaking as it is, you realize that it is nothing uncommon. This is the life of orphans and paupers.

    However this novel is uncommon. It's a modest story, slowly pulling you in, absorbing you bit by bit. It is heart-wrenching at moments, and you yearn for Agnes to find some relief from her fear, and to find love and affection.

    Agnes is returned to Kornsa, where she had a family for awhile in her childhood, and gains a family again before her death. She was fostered as a young girl by Inga and Bjorn until Inga died.

    Agnes requests as her spiritual attendant Assistant Reverend Thorvardur Jonsson, otherwise known as Toti. He is unclear why Agnes has requested him, and is uncomfortable with the assignment. He is still in training, and nervous about attending to a murderess. But he, like the Kornsa family, performs his duty as ordered.

    Toti and Agnes form a bond as he permits her to pour out her soul and rehash her past.

    One of my few complaints is that I would have liked to have seen more development in the relationships between Agnes and the family members. I would have liked to have felt warmth between them growing, and her opening up to them. Her relationship with them remained rather stilted.


    My final word: This was one of those gentle reads, at times so entrancing it is almost hypnotic, like being rocked to sleep. Affective and sensitive, it moved me and it is beautifully lyrical. I would consider this novel to be rare and extraordinary, and it will carry you along to the bitter end, if you allow it, with tears streaming down your face as you take those final steps. But you aren't alone. Agnes is with you.

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 17, 2013

    Burial Rites is the first novel by Australian author, Hannah Ken

    Burial Rites is the first novel by Australian author, Hannah Kent. In 2003, during an exchange year in Iceland, Hannah Kent became interested with events leading up to the last execution to occur in that country. Thus began ten years of research into Agnes Magnusdottir, beheaded by axe in 1829 for her role in the murder of two sleeping men. Eventually Kent produced a novel in which she aimed to show another side to this condemned woman. This novel won the Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award, and deservedly so. Kent takes the many facts she has uncovered in her extensive research and, along with fictional likelihoods,weaves them into a fascinating tale of love, cruelty, passion and betrayal. Kent fills out the real and fictional characters, giving them a depth that cannot be gleaned from recorded data. A great wealth of interesting facts about early 19th century Iceland is incorporated into the story, giving it a wonderful authenticity. With sparkling prose, Kent evokes both the feel of northern Iceland and emotions of her characters. Gems like “I staggered in the light of the world and took deep gulps of fresh sea air. It was late in the day: the wet mouth of the afternoon was full on my face. My soul blossomed in that brief moment….” and “I had no friends. I didn’t understand the landscape. Only the outlying tongues of rock scarred the perfect kiss of sea and sky – there was no one and nothing else. There was nowhere else to go.” abound. Kent’s mentor for this masterpiece was, very appropriately, Geraldine Brooks: this genre is right up her alley. This is a powerful and moving first novel, and readers will eagerly await Hannah Kent’s next work. 

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 16, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Burial Rites is based on the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the la

    Burial Rites is based on the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last person execution in Iceland. From the very first pages of the book, Agnes never claims innocence or guilt. We can tell there's more to her story, but are left unsure... is she actually guilty? Is she innocent? Maybe it's more complicated than that, somewhere in between. Or is Agnes simply mourning that one decision will forever define her? We just can't tell, and that makes for a gripping read.

    Much of the narrative is in third person; we are spectators. But Agnes's story is revealed to us through her eyes. Everything Agnes hears, sees, and feels is keenly felt. Hannah Kent's writing is phenomenal in this way. And the last thirteen pages or so were altogether intense, utterly terrifying, sickening, and beautifully handled.

    My stomach was in knots! And you know, I knew what was going to happen at the end of this book. Yet I turned page after page, feeling like maybe, just maybe, it would end differently. I held on to that irrational sliver of hope all the way to the end. Hannah Kent's powerful novel swept me away had me fully invested in the main character.

    Incredible read.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2013

    Excellent!! Excellent!!!

    Based on a historical incident, this novel is riviting. An unusual setting, filled with facts about the lifestyle of the 1830's in Iceland, and fascinating male and female characters make this story a must real for lovers of great historical fiction or just great stories. Another great historical novel on the Nook is "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. This novel is also based on a true villian during World War II. Both are excellent. Both deserve A+++++++

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    a must read

    I couldn't put this book down, great book for book club discussions.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    A really well-written, engrossing novel. 'Burial Rites' is a th

    A really well-written, engrossing novel.

    'Burial Rites' is a thrilling read, and Kent's writing brings Iceland to life. The writing is sparse, much like the land and people it depicts, and completely immerses the reader in the landscape and plot. This heartbreaking story is one of 2013's best novels ... and reads likone written by an author much more along in years than Kent actually is. She writes with confidence, care and reverence for her characters.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2013

    I was not sure if I would like this book. It sounded a bit depre

    I was not sure if I would like this book. It sounded a bit depressing, and indeed it was. But it was so well-written, and such an interesting story, that I really liked it. Amazing the stories that history holds. I never heard of this case, nor thought much about Iceland. Now I am inspired to look further into the case and learn more about the country and history. Strongly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2013

    Exceedindly well done

    The author does an excellent job of taking the reader into the period as well as the hearts and minds of the characters. Her ability to portray their emotional development throughout the story progression is especially impressive as she is working from actual events -- but also shows herself an empathetic author. Looking forward to this author's next work. Historical fiction is my favorite genre.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    Fantastic ! A Must Read!

    It took about 10pages for me to get the rythm of Ms Kents style, but once i did i couldn't put it down.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2013

    Reading this book give the chills,glue to it can not let go. It'

    Reading this book give the chills,glue to it can not let go. It's getting by page by page?

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    Excellent!

    Excellent!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2014

     

     

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2014

    You have to check this book out!

    As a mystery writer myself I found Burial Rites to be quite riveting. It certainly had me thinking twice about my impending trip to Iceland next year.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Not worth time

    This book was agonizing to read or try to read. I forced myself to read it because it was assigned for book club but I couldn't make it half way through it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2014

    Excellent story

    Great read. Names get confusing but such a good story. Sad and very interesting. Great insight as to the injustice of long ago times ....... Especially for women. Would be a great movie!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2014

    Burial Rites

    Really hated this book. I swear it dragged and dragged

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Worst book I've read in a long time!

    Worst book I've read in a long time!

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  • Posted November 22, 2013

    A Tale of a unique time and place

    The story takes place in Iceland in the 1820's. While it provides perspective on a unique time and place it is not compelling enough make it totaling interesting story.

    It is a fast read which doesa make it worth a try.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The more I read the harder it became to put this book down. I wa

    The more I read the harder it became to put this book down. I was drawn in deeper and deeper, not wanting to reach the inevitable end.  I was hoping , at every turn of the page, the end would be different than my heart  felt.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2013

    Highly recommended

    Hard to put down as the key character's story is skillfully revealed.

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