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Book Review | Burial Rites

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. 
I didn't realize before starting this book that it was based on a true story. Knowing it now makes it even more heartbreaking and haunting than it was before.
This is the story of Agnes, the last woman executed in Iceland.

I have a long list of all the places I want to travel to someday, and Iceland is near the top. I don't even know why, I just think it's gorgeous, and I want to explore it for myself one day.
Reading this book really made me feel like I was in Iceland at this time period. It felt gray, and wet, and cold. The writing had this beautiful feeling of gloom that went along with the story so well. It tugged at my heart and made me cry several times.

I adored Agnes. She could be very dark at times, but you felt for her, and even though you knew what would happen in the end, you couldn't help but hope that somehow they would realize she was innocent.
I felt like the other characters (especially Toti) could've been more developed, but I liked them as well. They each had their own different roll in Agnes's story, and it went together wonderfully!

Parts of the book were told in third person from the other character's point of view, and then some were written in first person from Agnes's mind. I liked Agnes's parts the most. The writing was just so thick and rich when Agnes was telling it, and I loved it!

The Icelandic culture was shown in this book very well. Again, I really did feel as if I was there when I picked up this book. The language was a bit hard to read, even though they had a translation guide in the front, many of the character's names were nothing more than gibberish in my mind. But that was a small problem.

I could tell that there was a lot of research done in the writing of this novel, and I really appreciated it. I read the author's notes in the back and I was just amazed. I'm a history nerd, and I love it when Someone is able tells a story as accurately as possible. I'm sure if Agnes could read this book, she would be happy that people could finally see her side of the story.
“They will say ‘Agnes’ and see the spider, the witch caught in the webbing of her own fateful weaving. They might see the lamb circled by ravens, bleating for a lost mother. But they will not see me. I will not be there.” 
― Hannah Kent, Burial Rites

14 comments

  1. Great review, Hannah! This book sounds fascinating. Iceland is high up there on my list, too - so that makes this book sound all the more interesting.

    Also, I know this is weird, but I also now want to read this book because the author's name is Hannah. I don't think I've ever read a book by an author with my name O.o (or rather, *our* name! Yay for Hannahs!)

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    1. I know! That was actually one of the reasons I wanted to read this too. Hannah is such a popular name you would think more books would be written by Hannahs...

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  2. Lovely review! I really, really want to read this book. I've heard that reading it feels like an immersive Icelandic experience. Anyway, I've picked this one out as a gift for my birthday next month, so hopefully I'll get to read it soon! :)

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    1. Yay! I cant wait to hear your thoughts on it :)

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  3. Iceland is so beautiful. One of my favorite photographers takes trips to the country often because of it's landscapes. I really want to read this book-- books and movies based on true stories tend to intrigue me.

    xoxo Morning

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    1. Oh yes, Iceland is so gorgeous! You should read this book and let me know what you think :)

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  4. Looks like an interesting read! I'll have to go check it out.
    Lovely post, Hannah. <3

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  5. I have to read this book! I am probably going to weep when I read it, especially knowing that Agnes was a real person, but I love books that make me cry. Is that bad?

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    1. That's not weird or bad at all. I love books that make me cry! (and don't worry, this book will for sure make you cry ;)

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  6. I ADORE this book...the writing, the setting, the characters, pretty much everything. I did feel like some of the secondary characters were underdeveloped, but Agnes herself is marvelous. It's unquestionably her story, and I loved what a complex--and very real--person she was. So, yes, it's definitely one of my favorites :) Lovely review!

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    1. Thank you, dear. It is a very good book! :)

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  7. Hey Hannah,
    A while ago I nominated you for a blog award but I forgot to notify you. :/ So I just got around to it now. Sorry about that! http://digressionwiththedark.blogspot.com/2015/02/blog-award.html

    Danielle

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    1. Oh, thank you so much for the nomination! It means a lot! :)

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