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
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 Tv=ti, 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?
About the Author
"Deeply emotional [and] gripping.... A cross between the grim, moorish atmosphere of Wuthering Heights and the cold, religiously-infested repression of a Bergman film, Kent's novel emerges alive, triumphant and sublimely poetic."—Shelf Awareness
"Debut author Hannah Kent has crafted a gorgeous, literary novel that peppers in just the right amount of suspense. I loved this story not just because of its intricate character studies, but for its evocation of a cold and formidable landscape that is just as stark as the people who inhabit it. This compelling, ripped-from-real-life tale reminds me of Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace with a dash of Lizzie Borden thrown in. BURIAL RITES is the sort of novel that stays in your head long after you've finished reading the last words."—Karin Slaughter, author of the Grant County and Will Trent/Atlanta series
"Kent displays a talent beyond her years, not only in her restrained and often beautiful prose...but also in matters of structure and pacing."—Nicholas Mancusi, The Daily Beast
"A haunting portrait of the woman beheaded in Iceland's final execution.... with echoes of Booker Prize-winner Margaret Atwood's 1997 novel, Alias Grace...."—Yvonne Zipp, MLive
"A sensation among book reviewers drawn to its depiction of the struggles of a gritty people and a doomed woman amid a harsh landscape."—Randy Dotinga, Christian Science Monitor