Review: Burial Rites (Hannah Kent)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: ★★★★


Northern Iceland, 1829. A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover. A family forced to take her in. A priest tasked with absolving her. But all is not as it seems, and time is running out: winter is coming, and with it the execution date. Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes’s story.


One of the best historical fictions that I’ve ever read. Historical fictions are known to be draggy and long (like The Book Thief or The Narrow Road to the Deep North) but Burial Rites is just so well written that the only word I can think of to describe it is: lyrical

This book is about the last person to be publicly beheaded in 19th century Iceland, Agnes Magnusdottir. Kent did a good job of bringing her readers into a more personalised depth into the book as it tells the tale from Agnes’ point of view and an alternative truth to the crime, or rather an ambiguous story that may never have been brought to light. Because Agnes was sentenced without being able to tell her part of the story, it is possible she could have been wrongly executed. Which makes this book all the more better! I found it so real and haunting that it makes you wonder what really did happen on the night of the murders?

Some parts of the book were quite slow, but I love how short each chapter/point view is. It’s a perfect read if you don’t have much time to spend on lengthy chapters (as is the case sometimes with historical fiction)

Definitely a recommended read from me! Burial Rites has become one of my favourite historical fiction reads alongside All the Light We Cannot See


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