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Burial Rites

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  54,111 Ratings  ·  8,158 Reviews
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 murd
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2013)
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Ryan I think Mick is still bringing it but Keith Richards looks like a dead guy having a bad hair day.
Monika I liked this book from the start so perhaps if you don't, you mind not change your mind! But I very rarely start off disliking a book then go on to…moreI liked this book from the start so perhaps if you don't, you mind not change your mind! But I very rarely start off disliking a book then go on to change my mind.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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I cannot write a review that can do this book justice. This is what goes through my head:

* I am so happy I give few books five stars, because then when I run into a book this good my five star rating means something!

* You need a strong stomach for this book. I have warned you.

* Once you start you will not be able to read or do anything else.

* There is NO humor in this book. I always need humor, except NOT here. Don't ask me why! I just didn't need it. I was riveted from start to finish. I neede
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bleak but beautiful.
“They will say ‘Agnes’ and see the spider, the witch caught in the webbing of her own fateful weaving. They might see the lamb circled by ravens, bleating for a lost mother. But they will not see me. I will not be there.”
On 12 January, 1830, the last instance of capital punishment in Iceland occurred when Friðrik Sigurðsson and Agnes Magnúsdóttir were executed in Vatnsdalshólar in Húnavatnssýsla, for the murder of two men.

While often painted as “monstrous”, a cold-blooded murderer, a figur
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
So haunting, so beautiful.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, this ain't Little House On The Prairie; and Toti, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

Through Hannah Kent's research we are transported to the early 1800's of rural Icelandic farming life.
With her considerable talent for writing, more research and her imagination for speculative biography we are privy to the story of Agnes Magnusdottir. Iceland's last female convicted murderer, sentenced to public execution.
Agnes has suffered through a life of hardships. Through all that beset h
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, library
“What sort of woman kills men?”

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men.

Agnes is sent to wait out the time leading to her execution on the farm of District Officer Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoids speaking with Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant reverend appointed as Agnes' spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her, as
Hannah Greendale
It is the early nineteenth century. Agnes Magnúsdóttir is charged with the murder of two men and is delivered to a small house on an isolated farm in northern Iceland, where she must tend to daily chores and seek spiritual guidance from a priest named Toti, while she awaits her execution.

They will see the whore, the madwoman, the murderess, the female dripping blood into the grass and laughing with her mouth choked with dirt. They will say "Agnes" and see the spider, the witch caught in the web
Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος   Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο   Αμούν Arnum
"Το ύφος στο πρόσωπο του δεν ήταν χλευαστικό. Έδειχνε,όμως περιφρόνηση. Με περιφρονούσε - και το διασκέδαζε. Ένα ξαφνικό βάρος απελπισίας κι απώλειας έπεσε πάνω μου. Και οριστικά,αμετάκλητα,η θλίψη με έλιωσε. "

Αυτό το απόσπασμα του βιβλίου στη συγκεκριμένη στιγμή -έχοντας διαβάσει απο πριν την εξαθλιωμένη ζωή και το ξεγύμνωμα της ψυχής της Άγκνες με ωμές περιγραφές και σκηνικά να εκτυλίσσονται σε παγωμένα και άγρια μέρη της Ισλανδίας- με έκανε να αισθανθώ την κατάφορη αδικία,τον πόνο,την ερημιά
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The writing is magnificent and fragile from the first sentence.....
"They said I must die". They said that I stole the breath from men, and now they must steal mine.

A 'woman' waits her public execution in Iceland in 1829...faces her mortality.
Gloomy, distressing, haunting, and captivating.

Off the chart-debut-writing talent for Hannah Kent!!! Incredible story!!!!
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I have literally just closed the covers on this book and my heart feels heavy. A novel based on true events and characters, Burial Rites tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir; a woman condemned to death for the murder of her employer.

This was a haunting read; from the eerie prose, dripping in darkness, to the ravens that constantly circle the farms, waiting for a sign of vulnerability from the animals.

Hannah Kent creates the atmosphere of rural Iceland in the 1800's with flawless accuracy. I c
Amalia Gavea
When you already know how a story ends and yet, you find yourself agonizing over the fate of its protagonists willing for History to change direction, it says a lot about the writer's talent to make you so interested in the novel that you deny reality. This is what happens with Hannah Kent's Burial Rites.

The haunting, almost harrowing, landscape of Iceland becomes a character as significant as Agnes, Tóti, Natan and Margret. Each character springs out of the pages and right into your soul. Agnes
B the BookAddict
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Recommended Reading
In 1829, Jon Jonsson is tasked with housing condemned murderer Agnes Magnusdottir at his family farm while she awaits her execution. Margret, Jon’s wife, has steeled herself and their two daughters to support Jon in his unenviable position. She is unprepared for the moment her resolve softens when she meets the prisoner for the first time.

The criminal wore what seem to be a servant’s common working dress of roughly woven wool, but one so badly stained and caked with dirt that the original blue
Raeleen Lemay
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
The writing was beautiful and as far as novels go this is one of the most atmospheric that I've read, but it just wasn't enough for me to love the book. The story itself is pretty sad (which I'm fine with) but there wasn't really enough going on plot-wise, or character-wise, for me to properly enjoy the book. The intrigue that I felt at the very beginning sort of petered away as the story went on, but I definitely loved the beginning!
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Five stars with bells on! It is rare to find a debut novel as sophisticated, beautiful, and gripping as this one. The desolation of the harsh Icelandic winter is felt in the very bones, it's so hauntingly descriptive. The feelings of despair & the depth of fear are such, that I was almost holding my breath at times. I resented any intrusion that halted my reading of this book, that's how gripping I found it. Hannah Kent has announced her arrival in the literary world with an absolute gem of ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just finished reading Burial Rites for the 3rd time (Book Club Choice) and its still manages to pack a punch third time around. This is one of my 10 ten favourite books as it is just so well written and so atmospheric.

Burial Rites is the extraordinary haunting debut novel by Hannah Kent an Australian Writer. This book is set in Iceland in 1829 and tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir who was found guilty of murdering her employer as he slept. She was condemned to death. She was the last perso
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
'I am run through and through with disaster; I am knifed to the hilt with fate.'

Poor Agnes! This was a very well told story: evocative descriptions of the landscape, the farmers of Iceland and their tough life style...

I have read a lot of historical fiction, but never one set in this time and place, so the details of Icelandic farming in the 1800s were fascinating. Brutal conditions and yet (said from the comfort of my centrally heated home and with my on line food order on its way) there would
Another UPDATE Iceland is revisiting the circumstances of the trial. Fascinating stuff! Have a look.

UPDATE On 16 August 2017, the author added a video about the book to her website:
The video itself is here:


“Rósa’s poetry kindled the shavings of my soul, and lit me up from within.”

Hannah Kent writes about a dark, forbidding time in an unforgiving landscape, but she shines her light in
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is a 2013 Little, Brown and Company publication.

This story is mind-boggling and perhaps a little overwhelming at times.

As the blurb states, this story is inspired by true events that took place in Iceland in 1829-30.

Agnes, is convicted of murdering two people, one of whom was her lover, then sentenced to be executed by beheading.

She is sent to live out the remainder of her days on an isolated farm with a family forced to take her in because of a lack of prisons, a
Brrr! This wintry novel about a woman accused in the 1828 murders of two men in northern Iceland was filled with shiver-inducing descriptions of the harsh, yet beautiful, rural landscape. Even though I was reading this on a warm summer day, the chilly language made me think about reaching for a shawl.

Hannah Kent, who is from Australia, says she became interested in the true story of Agnes Magnusdottir when she traveled to Iceland in 2003. Agnes was the last person in the country to be executed.
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
I loved the sense of time and place, the details of life in rural 19th century Iceland. But I thought the characterisation was too easy, too obvious. Kent states in the notes that she wanted to provide a more ambiguous portrayal of Agnus, who has historically been branded as evil. But Agnus from this book is too good, too normal. Her situation is bad, but her character is one a modern reader can easily sympathise with. She is intelligent, a hard worker, attractive in an interesting way (but not ...more
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Sublime. Astonishing. Beautiful. Two things astound me about this book, the first is that it is Hannah Kent's first novel. Simply put, it's a masterpiece. The second is that the novel is based on a true story.

The novel is atmospheric and beautiful, sad, sorrowful and pitiful moments are all the way through it, yet there is also kindness, warmth and courage. It's an incredible book.

It's set in Iceland in 1829-1830, a barren and unforgiving place and time to live. Agnes does not have long to live
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, reviewed, 2015

Burial rites by Hannah Kent is a fine example of how fiction can be successfully combined with historical facts. The story told here took place in the late twenties of nineteenth century and the novel is not as much an attempt to reconstruct these events as giving the floor Agnes Magnúsdóttir, last woman sentenced to death in Iceland.

Who was she ? Merciless killer and cunning manipulator, Lady Macbeth of the fjords country ? Haughty egoist, hungry for life beyond own means ? Or abandoned orph
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a vivid dream a week or so ago. I was at the top of a giant tower. For some reason I had been there all day and I desperately wanted to go home as I was incredibly tired. I crowded into the lift with a handful of other people, none of whom I knew, and we began to make our descent to the ground floor. I remember the dream vividly. Suddenly the elevator jolted and we began to plummet to the ground. As the force of the fall flung me to the roof of the small enclosure, I KNEW I only had mere s ...more
Iryna (Book and Sword)
4.5/5stars(not rounding up)
For a full review please visit my my book blog

If you are looking for a fast paced, action packed, sinister novel - this book is NOT for you.
This is a novel about a woman sentenced to die. Her days are recollected and described in painful agony of everyday tasks as she waits to be slaughtered.
And I honestly cannot recommend it enough! I feel like this is such an important book to read, and I am very surprised that more people are not talking about it.

“They see I’ve g
Diane S ☔
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
It is very hard to describe the atmosphere of this novel. The coldness, the loneliness, the lives hard lived permeate this book, as the story of Agnes is told. Well researched accounting of the last woman beheaded and the last case of capitol punishment in Iceland in 1830. This narrative follows the last months of her life and is hauntingly and movingly told.

The district is hard put to harbor a criminal awaiting death and so Agnes is put in the care of a good Christian farm family. Her only prov
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Δεν μπορώ να σχολιάσω πολλά για αυτό το βιβλίο, ούτε χρειάζεται να περιγράψω την ιστορία του. Όποιος θέλει να μάθει για αυτήν, δεν έχει παρά να κοιτάξει το οπισθόφυλλο. Το μόνο που θα κάνω είναι να παραθέσω 1-2 αποσπάσματα από το κείμενο για να καταλάβετε πόσο όμορφα είναι ειπωμένη αυτή η ιστορία.

«Αν μιλήσω, τα λόγια μου θα είναι κλεισμένα σε φουσκαλίτσες αέρα. Κι εκείνοι δεν θα μπορούν να πάρουν τα λόγια μου, να τα κάνουν δικά τους. Θα δουν σε μένα την πόρνη, την τρελή, την φόνισσα, τη γυναίκα
4.5 stars. I don't have words.

This is the kind of book I would tell almost anyone to read, whether they were interested in the synopsis or not. It's not an easy read, although it reads fast. You'll need a strong stomach at times, which I knew going in, and you should know too.

The writing is what I'm having a hard time describing. It is crisp and sparse and clean and simply, beautiful. This is a book you read to experience Hannah Kent's uncanny ability. She is 28. This is her first novel. And I
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Αν και στην αρχή με παίδεψαν τα ισλανδικά ονόματα :p , τα συνήθισα γρήγορα και λάτρεψα αυτό το βιβλίο. Η περιγραφή της δύσκολης ζωής με κέρδισε ακόμα περισσότερο από την ιστορία της Άγκνες. Για πιο λεπτομερή παρουσίαση/κριτική, εδώ είναι η βίντεοκριτική μου.
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dem by: Movers and shakers / Audible
. Just finished reading this book and reading the book as opposed to listening to it really did enhance the experience for me and I upped my rating to 5 stars. Great book.

Reading this for the second time. I previously listened to this as an audio book and while the audio version is excellent I wanted to read this as I think it will enhance the experience even more.

Burial Rites is the extraordinary haunting debut novel by Hannah Kent an Australian Writer. This book is set in Iceland in 1829 and
Elisabeth Storrs
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ret ...more
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Bookworm Bitches : September 2015: Burial Rites 26 166 Aug 16, 2017 07:26PM  
Saucy Wenches Boo...: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 2 5 Apr 20, 2017 02:39PM  
Around the Year i...: Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent 10 70 Mar 14, 2017 09:48AM  
Books and Jams Re...: Ending - Ch 11- Epilogue 12 27 Feb 19, 2017 06:53AM  
Books and Jams Re...: Chapters 5-7 (pages 108-186) 5 11 Feb 15, 2017 10:42AM  
Books and Jams Re...: Chapter 2-4 (pg 34-107) 8 10 Feb 13, 2017 06:40AM  
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Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. Her first novel, the international bestseller, Burial Rites (2013), was translated into 28 languages and was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) and the Guardian First Book Award. It won the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, the Indie Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year and the Victorian Premier's Peopl ...more
More about Hannah Kent...

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“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.” 266 likes
“I can turn to that day as though it were a page in a book. It’s written so deeply upon my mind I can almost taste the ink.” 133 likes
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