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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Burial Rites - Hannah Kent

Burial Rites is based on the real-life events surrounding the execution of convicted murderer Agnes Magnusdottir in Iceland in 1830. In the Author’s Notes at the end of the book, Hannah Kent explains that her interpretation is the result of many years of research, including review of local records, histories and publications.


The story is atmospheric and compelling. You can feel the cold and darkness seep into you. The stoicism and uprightness of the family who houses Agnes and the priest who is tasked with redeeming her soul are described without sentimentality, effectively underlining the implacability of her conviction and execution. There's never any question of Agnes’ fate, but you will want to read the book in one sitting to find out the "truth" of her relationship with the victims and what happened on the night of the murders.


Of course, truth is rarely simple or clear-cut, is it?