Burial Rites by Hannah Kent


Name & Author: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Publisher: Picador, Australia

Release Date: January 1st 2013

Genres: Historical Fiction, Crime

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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? -Goodreads

My Thoughts:

The book Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is a great story based on true events about Icelandic history. In the beginning of the book Hanna Kent explains the Icelandic letters, like á, í, ó, æ, ð and þ, which aren’t in other languages (excluding the letter æ, it is used in Scandinavian languages). She also explains the use of the words -dóttir and -son that are put after the name of the father and mean daughter and son. In Iceland there are rarely last names, there are the father’s (or mother’s) name with daughter or son at the end.

Burial Rites takes on the last execution in Iceland in 1830. The main character Agnes Magnúsdóttir is accused along with Friðrik  Sigurðsson of the murders of Natan Ketilsson and Pétur Jónsson. The story revolves about the time after the murder in Agnes’ life to the execution. Executions in Iceland were a seldom event after they stopped hanging thiefs in 1760. The last execution that took place in Iceland was in 1790, 40 years before the last. (In 1805 a man was sent to Norway and executed there).

I read about these murders in a history class as a child and never thought about it more. So this was really fun for me to read about this even though I don’t agree entirely with how Hanna Kent portrays the persona of Agnes. I had always imagined her as a cold blooded murderess. But in the book she is kind, deep down, and she doesn’t want to die. But this is an historical event and no one can be certain how it happened.

Agnes and Friðrik were executed, beheaded, on Januray 12th 1830. Their head were put on sticks to be a lesson for others. Soon after they disappeared. It is said that they were buried by a workman with the bodies outside of holy ground. It wasn’t until 1932 that the bodies (and heads) were buried in holy ground after a supposed haunting of Agnes and Friðrik.

I really enjoyed this book. The character development was very good and they felt real. The book is set over a long period of time, about 2 years, and I felt like the ending of the book was bit rushed, all of a sudden there were only 6 days to the execution. Otherwise it was very good. It was little hard for me to read the book in English. I didn’t feel like the people were speaking Icelandic, rather they were speaking English with a bad Icelandic accent.

5/5 stars!



If anyone wants to read more about this there is a great article here in Icelandic.


Top 13 of 2013


The year 2013 was a year full of great things for me. I think the most exiting event from 2013 was when I graduated in May and started Uni in September. And I started this blog in July! I hope 2014 will be as good as 2013 was for me. In celebration of this wonderful year I am doing my Top 13 books of 2013. They did not all get over 4 star rating, but some of them have constantly been on my mind.



The first category is YA Contemporary. I didn’t read many contemporary book but these three (four) were the best. First is Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Rainbow Rowell is an new author that I discovered this year. I love her books and Attachments is amazing. I also read Eleanor & Park by her and liked it as well. (I did a review for Eleanor & Park that can be viewed here).

I read a few John Green books this year. My favorite of them was Paper Towns (review can be viewed here). It is a wonderful books and I loved all the clues along the way. The last book is a book that I haven’t heard lot about but it is a great book that I recommend to everyone. That book is A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan. Go check that one out.



The second category is a mix between adult fiction and classics. The only adult fiction that made it to this list is Before I go to Sleep by S. J. Watson. (Review is here). It is a great and a scary book.
There are two classics that made this list. The first one is Hamlet by Shakespeare. This is the only Shakespeare piece that I have read but I really enjoyed it. The other one is The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. I think that this one will be my first re-read of 2014.



The third category is stand alone is YA fantasy/paranormal/dystopian… The first one is my favorite from this category – The Host by Stephanie Meyer. According to Goodreads there will be two sequels to The Host, but I don’t think that will happen. The Second book is The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. (Review is here). This book is amazing and I really want Holly Black to continue with this story. The last book is 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad. (Review is here). The writing is nothing special in this book (the translation?) but the ending!! This is one of the few books in 2013 that left such an impression on me – the scary feeling after I read this book.



The fourth category are YA fantasy/paranormal/dystopian series. The first one is my favorite of the year and that is The Diviners by Libba Bray. This book is amazing and I can’t wait for the sequel. The second book is Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (I also read and liked the sequel Siege and Storm). This series is really good. The last book is Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. This is a great book. Assassins trained by nuns-you can’t go wrong with that.



The fifth category are graphic novels. I read my first graphic novel in December 2013. It was the first two volumes of Locke and Key by Joe Hill. They were really good and I recommend them to everyone.

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