Book Review: Burial Rites

08_bookreviewRead for: The pretty cover
Rating: 4.5/5
This book was haunting, beautiful, flawless. Hannah Kent has told a fictional account of the final days of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be beheaded in Iceland. Agnes and acquaintance Friðrik Sigurðsson were charged with the murders of Nathan Ketilsson and Pétur Jónsson in 1828, and executed in 1830. The bodies of the victims were recovered from inside a burned barn, and found to have been stabbed to death before the fire was set. Not much else is known publicly about Agnes and Friðrik and the circumstances surrounding the murders, but Kent has exhaustively researched the topic and pieced together a historical reconstruction of the story. The way she illustrated the fear and sadness within Agnes through chapters of chilling inner monologue alternated with 3rd person descriptions of her interactions among the family with which she stayed prior to the execution was incredibly moving. I’ve been trying to stay away from depressing novels for the last few years, and there’s no way a book about a woman who was sent to her death for murder could not be depressing, however I’m glad I read this one.


  1. I was hoping you loved this as much as I did. Haunting and beautiful are exactly the right words for it. I listened to it on audio, which was an excellent plan as I would have been completely lost on the pronunciation of all those Icelandic names, so gorgeous when you hear them aloud. I’m still thinking about it a year later, and I wish she had another novel already because it’s so hard to find books that stick with me as much as this did.

    • I listened to the audio version as well and thought the same thing about the pronunciations! I’m also still thinking about this book, it was just so eerie and luscious. When her next book comes out you’ll have to tell me!

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