September 2013 Indie Next List
“Set against the desolate fire-and-ice landscape of 19th century Iceland, Burial Rites is a brilliant, multifaceted novel that traverses dark psychological terrain while providing pitch-perfect historical detail. Debut author Hannah Kent is equally skilled at delving into the mind of Agnes Magnusdottir---a servant woman convicted of murder and condemned to beheading---as she is at rendering the domestic life of the poor farmers charged with sharing their tiny hovel with her, as there are no prisons in Iceland. At once a brooding morality tale and a ferocious page-turner, Burial Rites is the kind of novel that asks serious questions while always remaining superbly entertaining.”
— Keaton Patterson, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
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 Toti, 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?