Burial Rites: A Novel by Hannah KentBurial Rites: A Novel by Hannah Kentsticker-burst

Burial Rites: A Novel

byHannah Kent

Paperback | April 1, 2014

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*Soon to be a major motion picture starring Jennifer Lawrence*
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 Tóti, 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?
Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. As a teenager she travelled to Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, where she first heard the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir. Hannah is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and is completing her PhD at Flinders University. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writi...
Title:Burial Rites: A NovelFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:352 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1 inShipping dimensions:8.25 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:April 1, 2014Publisher:Little, Brown And CompanyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0316243922

ISBN - 13:9780316243926


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Story telling I was fearful this book would be hard to read due to the time period it is set in. And although there are parts that remind you it is set in the 1800's a lot of the writing style is similar to today. I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to others.
Date published: 2018-10-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good Really interesting rendition of a story revolving around true events. Was happy to hear that Hannah Kent, while not Icelandic, spent a long time in Iceland during a rotary exchange program.
Date published: 2018-08-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Bleak but Beautiful The writing is so bleak that at times, it gets a little boring. However, the story is haunting and heartbreaking. I do plan on checking out Hannah Kent's other novels.
Date published: 2018-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read If You Like Alias Grace and The Unseeing! This is a poignant historical fiction based on real events. Agnes Magnusdottir was convicted for her role in the murders of two men in 1828, and she became the last person to be executed in Iceland. While waiting for her execution, she was sent to an Icelandic farm in Kornsa. Her interactions with the farmer's wife and daughters, led them to see a different side of Agnes. This book's narration switches between 1st person (Agnes) and 3rd person perspectives. When you read from Agnes' perspective, it's haunting and heartbreaking. A well-writte, and well-researched book which I enjoyed tremendously.
Date published: 2018-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So good! This book drew me in from the start! It was such a fast read as I could not put it down. I just wanted to keep reading and reading. I can't wait for the movie!!
Date published: 2018-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! Loved this book. Historically correct. Very good story with lots of detail. Really felt like I was in Iceland with all the great description. We have come a long ways in dealing with crime, thankfully.
Date published: 2018-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Thought Provoking This is Hannah Kent's first novel and what a powerful one! It is based on the historical figure of Agnes Magnusdottir who was the last person to be beheaded in Iceland. Burial Rites is the story of Agnes' time with a family chosen for her. As she befriends Toti, the priest put in charge of her, Margret, the wife of the custodial family, Agnes begins to tell the story of her life. This novel is written with such depth and sensitivity that you feel as though you are witnessing Agnes' story.
Date published: 2018-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic book! This is the biography of an Icelandic woman in 1828- a story of love, murder and compassion. Really an incredible book that left me hoping for more from Hannah Kent.
Date published: 2018-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down I love this book! I just finished it and I did not realize that it was a first novel by a relatively young author! You could feel yourself transported into the life of the main character. It was very vivid. Great read.
Date published: 2018-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful I loved this so much, a great story based on true events. Wonderful storytelling.
Date published: 2018-02-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Alias Grace of Iceland A good read. If you liked Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, this novel tells a similar story of a lower-class woman (a maid) in the 1800s in Iceland who is accused of murdering her employer and alleged lover and then is executed for the crime(the last execution in Iceland.) The novel is in part the interpretation of events by the author who questions the protagonist's role in the crime and asks what role the main character had in the commission of the crime and why she may have been inclined to do what she did. It's an interesting look at the rights and stature a working-class single woman had in the 1800s in Iceland when women, and especially lower-class women, were treated like chattel/slaves. A competent character study and ambiguous portrayal of a woman who was either an evil witch capable of a heinous crime or a victim of abusive and cruel behavior by the man she loved and by men in general throughout her tough life.
Date published: 2018-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book I love historical fiction and this was great!
Date published: 2017-12-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very contemplative This is a tough book to rate. It's a typical literary fiction with a lot of value, so I feel like it deserves a solid 4. But based on my enjoyment alone, I wouldn't go higher than a 3 or 3,5. The pacing is slow but consistent, by which I mean it stays the same from beginning to end. You won't find action or twists and turns in this book, and since the story is based on a true event, you already know how it ends. The author basically documented (and fictionalized, of course) the last year of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person sentenced to death in Iceland, and the story takes place in the early 1800s in a really bleak setting. I'm not familiar (at all) with Islandic pronunciation of names of people and places, so it was slightly off putting. Those names are complex and very foreign to either the english or the french language that I know, and when you keep stumbling on to stuff that you don't know how to pronounce, it breaks the rhythm of your reading and the flow of the story. However, as expected, it was very atmospheric, which usually testifies of the author's great ability with words (and this book IS very lyrical and almost poetic at times), but I don't know that it's such a good feat when said atmosphere is so... cold and depressing. There are many characters aside from Agnes, and none of them except one is likeable. It's also my opinion that even though it's not a particularily long book, it could have been a good 50 pages shorter, especially towards the first half where I kept thinking how underwhelmed I was by how little was happening, but then, this kind of contemplative reflexion on such a "grand" matter (death sentence) can't really be precipitated. Would still recommend, but only to a select few.
Date published: 2017-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal. This book is most striking, to me, in two ways: Its sympathetic, realistic portrayal of being human, brought about in a slow unravelling of truthfulness. It captures the various folds of a story captured by each individual experiencing it so very well. Secondly, the reoccurring mirroring of the characters, events, and emotions with the surreal Icelandic landscape. The story becomes visceral, harsh, and imbedded into the very lore of the land. It's beautiful to read, and worth taking the time to read again, pausing to let the words sink in. The novel, however, does start off slowly. Slowly in that only by halfway through did I get a grip on the story, enough to get me to read further. I'm not even sure if this is a bad thing (the pace matches the slow churning of Iceland at the time, its people, and the harsh, barren landscape and slow seasons, the slow reality of the events that take place; I wouldn't have it otherwise), but rather a warning for those who would normally want to close the book and leave it. It's worth the read. A couple of times I also found the protagonist, Agnes, slip into a state that seemed written out of necessity, rather than what I had imagined her character to be willing to or capable of doing (and doing so abruptly, as though, again, not because the writing had arrived at a changing point, but the story had). Then again, I almost think this is yet again an unlikely strength of the writing: Agnes is, after all, someone we never really know, someone of multiple truths.
Date published: 2017-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This is now one of my favorite novels. I loved the way it was written and the story behind it.
Date published: 2017-10-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! This book is really good! Would definitely recommend!
Date published: 2017-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really Good Very happy to have read the book
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing such mature writing for a first novel. I was captured by the first page - Kent brings the past back to life; I could almost smell the dung burning. A wonderful character study.
Date published: 2017-06-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Who knew the criminal history of Iceland could be this interesting... Wonderfully written book, excellent setting beautifully described, moving plot, attaching characters... really, what is there NOT to like? This was very reminiscent of Atwood's "Alias Grace" for me (which isn't a bad thing at all!)
Date published: 2017-04-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating and well written This book took me by surprise... at first I wasn't sure I would like it, in the end it moved me to tears. Wonderfully written, the story unfolds and draws you in much as Agnes does with her host family. Agnes' story is a heartbreaking one. At first you can't imagine you will warm to her. . . but then you just can't help but feel connected to her. An absolutely haunting tale based on real events. Well done and worth a read.
Date published: 2017-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Interesting! Great read, good writing and fantastic plot. You will enjoy this!
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Loved the history and setting of this book.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Kent makes us hope for the impossible We already know what is going to happen, which perhaps makes it all the more suspenseful as the story unfolds and our hope increases that just maybe the inevitable will be overturned, that the accused will prove innocent and be justified... And the question strings us along: is she worthy of our sympathy? We are reluctant to give it, but incapable of withholding it. Kent is a poignant storyteller. Her words are poetic, striking, and the manner in which she tells this story chills you to the bone and sits there, like the unrelenting cold of an Icelandic winter.
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really great I really enjoyed this. It was nice to read about a culture that really is not well represented in fiction. Highly recommend to anyone interested in historical fiction
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Beautiful I kept thinking back to this book when I finished it. It's a very beautifully written book and even though I don't like any of the characters, I felt it was very real and raw.
Date published: 2016-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect I really enjoyed this novel. It was very atmospheric, and emotionally gripping. I lent it to a friend and they also loved it!
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this! I don't know what to say... I have no words to describe how this book made me feel, for my words would never do it justice. I loved everything about it - the setting, which was 19th-century Iceland. The characters - they were all so, very real and sympathetic. And the writing? The writing was the best part. Hannah Kent has a way of making me feel like I was there - in Kornsá, Illugastaðir, or even Breiðabólstaður - experiencing the cold, the sickness, and all the things that the characters were going through... the story is so well-paced that, as one reviewer - Steph Opitz - puts it, "the pages turn themselves". I could not have finished this book any later, despite my attempts at slowing down. I look forward to reading more of Hannah Kent's works, should she publish any (I hope she does!).
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating This novel is rich with history and culture. I enjoyed each chapter within it.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read I really enjoyed reading this book. It really drew me into the story
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Burial Rites In 1829, Natan Ketilsson and his guest were brutally murdered in his home. Natan's maidservant, Agnes Magnusdottir and two others were charged with and convicted of the murders. Agnes became the last person to be executed for murder in Iceland. While awaiting execution, Agnes was was billeted with a family on an isolated farm in northern Iceland and she received spiritual comfort and advice from a young pastor, Thorvardur Jonsson. This is all a matter of public record. “Burial Rites” is set during Agnes’s last few months. Slowly, a tentative relationship develops between Agnes, her reluctant 'family' and her pastor. Agnes tells her story as she sees it - sugar-coating nothing, asking for no sympathy. Even so, by the time Agnes walks to her execution, sympathy and regret are exactly what we come to feel for her. Hannah Kent writes a wonderfully moving novel. The event itself is thoroughly researched, but it is almost secondary to the depiction of the harsh life of the poor in isolated, northern Iceland in the winter. The author succeeds in defining Agnes not just as 'murderer' but as a human being in the eyes of her pastor, her host family (I'm not sure what to call them - her jailers?) and our own.
Date published: 2016-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Astounding. What a tremendous, tragic, beautiful read. This is the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person to be executed in Iceland in the early 19th century. The story is told from three different points of view; Agnes', Margret's, one of the family members whom Agnes is held with until the time of her execution, and Toti, her priest. The story is incredibly well researched and the landscape is beautifully described. The tale is sweeping and breathtaking and heartbreaking, learning the journey of Agnes' sad life that ultimately brought her to the night where two men were murdered in the home where she worked as a maid, and she with two others held accountable. I think it is the sadness that looms over the story, the finality of it (the reader knows she is going to die, as does Agnes) that makes it so beautiful and heart-wrenching. It's a story--that is all, and sometimes that's all we need. A particularly well-written ending, with one of the best last couple of lines I think I've ever encountered. Please read.
Date published: 2015-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Drew me in... This book permeates with sadness and regret. The land is barren, the weather is bleak and the characters are well written. I love books that make me feel and this one did just that. It's interesting to learn what life was like in that part of the world at that time, especially if you're a woman and living in poverty. There are some stories that stay with you over time and this is one of them.
Date published: 2015-07-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book. A good book to read.
Date published: 2015-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Book Interesting and sad story about love and unfortunate circumstances
Date published: 2014-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfection What a lovely book to read. I was hooked and could not stop reading it. I did make up a few of the words as I went along and I thought that was quite enjoyable! A must read!
Date published: 2014-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I am amazed that this book was a debut for such a young Author! Surprising too is the fact that it was not written by an Author born in Iceland! I absolutely loved this book and I am not easily hooked. It was interesting, informative, entertaining, sad. I have never read a book twice but will definitely read this again!!
Date published: 2014-08-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from copy of Margaret Atwood book it's a good book, I really enjoyed it, but I hope you didn't read Alais Grace by Margaret Atwood, because it's just a copy of it, so it was a turn off for me, since I don't want to read a rewrite.
Date published: 2014-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An incredibly emotional story set in the beautiful landscape of Iceland. The main character Agnes will leap into your heart & never leave even after the last page! Written beautifully by the author and the best book I read in 2013.
Date published: 2014-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a beautifully written book about the last woman to be executed for murder in Iceland. The setting is bleak as the lifestyle was harsh. It is not only a brilliant insight to the way to the lifestyle of the farmers on their small holdings but also a very moving account of hardship, human relationships and the plight of a people with no power. Hannah Kent has written an amazing first book and makes a story from Icelandic history so engaging that it is impossible to put down.
Date published: 2014-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful, beautiful story Beautifully written! Not pretentious or long winded. Simple, beautiful and to the point. While the topic isn't a happy or joyous one, I can't say that the book or story are depressing. The story flows like the seasons Kent describes. The characters are authentic, researched and well described for us. A memorable read.
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved this book....the descriptions of the Icelandic landscape and living conditions cast an almost claustrophobic feeling which is in keeping with the young woman awaiting execution. The story of her tragedy and the hardship of those responsible for her imprisonment is both touching and heartbreaking.
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from There is a good storyline, at times, a bit predictable but that did not cause any of the chapters to lose their essence. You always have the desire to find out more about Agnes' story even though sometimes you could predict what has happened. I found it hard to identify with her, maybe because I am not a woman, therefore, my conclusion that this would find better sympathy with female readers. I tried as hard but I could not find a reason to identify, I felt sorry and pitied her more than anything else. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the book in its entirety but if it was not for the narrator Morven Christie, I would have probably not read it at all. I must say on that note, that audiobooks, helped me renew with a passion that was long gone. I had not picked up a book at a local library for years. I was disgusted by the lack of creativity out there and really a bit of the same thing constantly, pretty much like movies nowadays. I still find today's book do not engage readers sufficiently into critical thinking, oh well, it is an era of video games and TV. Agnes strength, throughout the years was very much appreciated. Her loneliness and injustices done to her were not on the other hand. However, more could have been done to save her, but that's understandable in 18-19th century Europe. Many across the land had similar fate, some without even a trial. At least, she's got one. I really liked Tóti but I found him to soft in dealing with Agnes...particularly not telling her about his feelings for her and how much he desired her but I would also guess that was a consequence of his status as priest or reverend.
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Of the many books that I read in 2013, this one was by far my favourite. This literary debut is beautifully written. Although the ultimate outcome is known because the story that Hannah Kent has written is based on a true event, how Hannah unravels her version of history (based on extensive research) is compelling and utterly moving. This story will slowly draw you in and you can't help but be transported and immersed. This is a must read.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I really liked this book. I read it a few months ago now but I still think about it and am now comparing other books to it. For a first book I think this author has done a brilliant job. There are spoilers in this review. It is the story of Agnes who was involved in a murder, Toti the reverend-councillor and the family who looked after her up until the time of her execution. The weather is used I thought to reflect the mood of the book is sombre which I thought was great. The characters develop through especially Toti. At first he was like a paster straight out of school doing everything by the book and then he started to really listen to Agnes. She missed him towards the end of the book but I think this was more because he was someone she could tell everything to without being judged for where she had come from. Throughout her life Agnes had experienced abandonment, miss treatment and was generally not appreciated for the things she did as in her ability to work well. She met Natan who gave her fulfilment both mentally and physically. The book indicated that this was the first time she had actually being able to have some sort of intellectual conversation. She felt valued for the first time in her life, all these feelings over rode her ability to judge if he was a good or bad person. I didn’t get the impression that she was forced or coerced in sex…….. for me it was as if it was the next step for Agnes to say yes. She felt appreciated and wanted some love. Where as Natan used her for all that he could get out of her. Another thing I liked about this book was the development of the relationships between Agnes and Toti and Agnes and Margret. Initially they didn’t like Agnes and by the end of the book they knew her and were able to empathise with her. The characters were believable as was the story line. The feelings the author brought out that Agnes was going through really got to me at the end of the book. I was crying as I read the last part. In reading this book it felt like this could have been what happened at that time. The author did well I thought with this subject. I would definitely read another book written by this author.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great debut novel from Hannah Kate, it kept my interest and had me up reading late into the night, till the end. I highly recommend Burial Rites and eagerly await her next.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is an achingly beautiful book that manages to transport you into the time and landscape of this sad story. It is convincing, insightful and intelligent in its telling and deserves the rave reviews it has received. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A wonderfully haunting account of an Icelandic woman awaiting her execution. All the way throught the book you were in limbo as to her guilt. A real glimpse into Iceland's past.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written with a very authentic voice. Kent clearly conducted deep research, but combines this with a real understanding of her characters. Disturbing but moving.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A beautiful read, couldn't put it down. Hannah Kent has excelled with her debut novel. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This is a dark, brooding story with a real sense of place. I really enjoyed it, even though you know how the ending will transpire, it does not in any way take away from the main story. This will be a book for the favorites shelf and I look forward to reading it again as I loved the atmospheric feel to it and want to re-visit that feeling for a second time.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This book is a stunning debut novel. Here's hoping Hannah Kent has other tales to tell. Her language is lyrical and the character of Agnes is complex and poignant. In a way, there is a cruelty in how Kent draws the reader into Agnes' soul when one knows the inevitable heartbreak that lies in store for her. The other characters' gradual affection for the doomed woman is also cleverly evoked. At first I found the interpolation of official records to be distracting but ultimately I found myself returning to them to fully understand the attitudes of the time. We may never really know what Agnes Magnusdottir was like, or whether she was complicit in the murders, but Kent is to be lauded for this beautiful rendering of a woman whose life was beleaguered from childhood and had to survive the cold, harsh world of Iceland's landscape, prejudices and law.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I loved the book. It was well told and wonderfully written. It is a historical novel based on the life of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last person to be executed in Iceland in 1830. It tells the story of the last year of her life, living on a farm while she awaits her execution. The attention to detail was wonderful. It tells of the history, the landscape and how people survived day to day in such a harsh land and time. I hope Hannah Kent has another novel for us soon.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book was brilliant, it was the first book in ages that was interesting enough to keep me awake and reading well into the night. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It was my number one book for 2013.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A book that takes you into the world of 19th century Iceland with all it's beauty, hardships and superstitions. Hanah Kent's first novel is gripping and beautifully written. Based on the true story of Agnes Magnusdottir waiting for her execution for murder and of the people who are given to care for her. I couldn't put the book down until I finished it, but I still didn't want it to end. It is such a great read.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely loved this heartbreaking story. Definitely one that stays with you.
Date published: 2014-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This book draws the reader in to a place very foreign to most Australians and a story that holds attention to the end. I wasn't sure I would like this book yet I really enjoyed it!
Date published: 2014-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I read this book over one sunday...what a debut for a young writer....the mix of fact and fiction that until the end you still don't know if the accused had committed the crime or not... even if you dont like crime or history factoid stories you will no be able to put this down..whatever the time frame the human emotions are always the same and this is why Shakespeare is still so popular. As Agnes waits out her time till her execution, the last in Iceland, we see the person behind the crime and also the reluctant host family, there is very little black and white but a million shades of grey. We also see the influence they all have on each other including the young reverend assigned to her spiritual welfare. Cannot wait for the next book from this author.
Date published: 2014-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent historical read In Iceland in the early 1800's, there are no jails or prisons, so when a horrific murder is committed, the prisoners must be either sent to Copenhagen or kept locally by residents. This means that Agnes, one of the convicted, must be boarded by a family in the district that the murder occurred. She is at first an outcast, suspected of any imagined crime. But soon as the winter comes, the family members hear her story and come to change their minds and hearts. Realistically told and beautifully written I spent my whole day reading this wonderful first novel.
Date published: 2014-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Amazing I thought this novel was amazing from start to finish.  Beautifully written and researched, it is a heart wrenching story of a remarkable woman.  Based on true events, it is a very dark and gloomy novel which left my heart feeling heavy.  Told with such detail, such as the detailed life of 19th century Iceland was wonderful and the symbolic ravens that seemed to   always be coming back, gave me chills. It is unlike anything I have read in quite sometime and although the outcome is well known, it was deeply moving.  Agnes has always been branded as evil, and Kent did an amazing job at telling a different side of the story, although much of the novel is fiction, based on true events, it still portrayed a non well known view of Agnes.  It's been a few days since I have finished and the characters are still with me.  I haven't been haunted by a novel in awhile, simply amazing.
Date published: 2013-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic historical read In Iceland in the early 1800's, there are no jails or prisons, so when a horrific murder is committed, the prisoners must be either sent to Copenhagen or kept locally by residents. This means that Agnes, one of the convicted, must be boarded by a family in the district that the murder occurred. She is at first an outcast, suspected of any imagined crime. But soon as the winter comes, the family members hear her story and come to change their minds and hearts. Realistically told and beautifully written I spent my whole day reading this wonderful first novel. 
Date published: 2013-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Debut Novel In 1829 Agnes Magnusdottir, was convicted of killing her former employer (and part time lover) and his friend.  Without the availability of a prison to house female inmates Agnes is sentenced to await her execution on a local farm.  Although the family is, understandably, reluctant to have Agnes under their roof they find it, surprisingly, not as uncomfortable or threatening as they had feared.  While on the farm Agnes has a court ordered spiritual advisor in the form of a very young Reverend Toti.  Between her conversations with the priest and the halting friendship of the farmer’s wife the reader hears Agnes’ story. I understand this is Ms. Kent’s first book.  All I can say is “Wow … what a way to start!”  Having done her research to ensure that the book is historically correct, she then gives Agnes a beautiful voice with which to tell her very poignant story.  Of course this is work of historical fiction so dialogue was invented and the thoughts of other people involved in Hannah’s life were at the discretion of Ms. Kent – and this is exactly where Ms. Kent won me over.  The author wove history, research and imagination into a book that I found difficult to put down.  Despite already knowing the outcome … spoiler alert if you have not read any previous reviews … that Agnes Magnusdottir was the last woman to be executed in Iceland, I was compelled to keep reading to the very last page.   While I can't describe this as an uplifting book, it was a compelling read.
Date published: 2013-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read An original story of an historical event in Iceland, where a convicted woman lives with a family until her execution. Well researched and full of details of the harsh lives lived years ago. A haunting picture of humans coping with events thrust upon them. The criminal, the keepers, the confessor, and the victims all add to the depth of this well-told interpretation of events.
Date published: 2013-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredibly Heart-wrenching! There are few words to describe the beauty and passion of this novel. It is gripping, packed with emotion, and poignant with humanity. Agnes was a poor maid who along with another woman and man, were sentenced to death for the brutal murder of her master. As she awaits her beheading, she is sent to live with Jon Jonsson, a government district officer, and his family. For the Jonsson family, there was no choice in the matter. The accept Agnes with great reluctance. Assistant Reverend Toti, a junior cleric, is assigned with the monumental task of spiritually preparing Agnes for her imminent execution. Through flashbacks, the reader learns of Agnes’ ordeal and how she became involved with the murder. As the months pass, the lives of Agnes, Toti, and the Jonsson family become entwined as each character struggles to deal with Agnes’ death and the emotions stirred by it. Hannah Kent writes a beautiful, heart-wrenching tale of a woman who is a victim of poor circumstances and the effect she has upon the people surrounding her. The harsh realities of the Iceland’s indigent women is exposed in this gritty tale. Strong visual writing make this a novel that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. It's an emotionally intense and lovingly written story that is causing a great stir in the publishing world. This is a must read!!!
Date published: 2013-09-04

Editorial Reviews

"A cool, atmospheric, historical thriller.... This page-turner will transport you to another place and time, and Agnes's fate will consume you to the very last page."-Deborah Harkness for Parade