Review: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Description (from cover):

‘They said I must die. They said I stole the breath from men, and now they must steal mine.
Charged with the brutal murder of two men, Agnes Magnusdottir has been removed to her homeland’s farthest reaches, to an isolated farm in northern Iceland, to await execution.
Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family on the farm avoids Agnes. Her arrival threatens the peaceful rhythm of their way of life, while her stoic approach to the daily chores is an unsettling contrast to the passion that, rumor has it, drove her to kill–disturbing proof for them of the dangers that can lurk beneath a placid surface. Only Toti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. As the winter months pass and Agnes’ death looms closer, the farmer’s wife and his daughters learn there is another side to the sensational tale they’ve heard, but will their new knowledge be enough to save her?
Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the saga of this young woman, the last to be publicly beheaded in Iceland, in the early nineteenth century. Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the heartbreaking question, How can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others? Inspired by true events, this is an astonishing and exhilarating read that gives voice to a fierce and daring heroine and heralds the arrive of a great new talent.’

My thoughts:

Wow. This book has left me speechless. I am sorry to have finished it, but I couldn’t help but continue to read page after page. What a beautiful story that leaves the reader heartbroken, yet fulfilled at the same time. Hannah Kent has a powerful way with words and I am amazed at her raw talent. This is a wonderful tale with mysterious elements, but with compassion and deep feelings. A book that is impossible to put down and one that will leave you begging for more. The ending leaves the reader feeling impacted by such a tale and such a heroine that I have to say this book is definitely one of the best I have read this year.
Agnes Magnusdottir has been tried and convicted of two brutal murders. She is awaiting her execution with a small family on a farm in remote Iceland. At first, the family wants nothing to do with Agnes as they see her as a stain on their reputation. Over time, however, the family comes to care about Agnes and learning about her past and what led her to murder. The family soon learns that it is hard to associate the Agnes they know with the stories of the murderess that run rampage. Caught between justice and their hearts, they must help Agnes come to terms with her sentence and learn a little something about forgiveness and human nature along the way.
Set in Iceland, a place that I know virtually nothing about, the author does a fantastic job of weaving culture and setting to make Iceland seem like an exotic place. The author did a lot of research for this novel and it shows on every single page. Agnes, portrayed as an evil person, is made to be more human to the reader. The reader knows how the story will end, but can’t hope but to think it may end otherwise. An imaginative and descriptive tale that amazed me to no end. A fantastic debut from an unknown author, one that will surely win awards and fame for this brilliant novel. Please get this book and read it as soon as possible. I have a feeling this will be a book everyone will be talking about.

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  Burial Rites
Author:  Hannah Kent
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date:  September 10, 2013
Pages:  336
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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