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Burial Rites

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  102,639 ratings  ·  12,649 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, 336 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company
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Elizabeth Perez According to the Bible they basically mean truth, or that's what it seems to boil down to. In every other place I've looked up the symbolism it all ha…moreAccording to the Bible they basically mean truth, or that's what it seems to boil down to. In every other place I've looked up the symbolism it all has connotations that are positive, like stability, hardness and endurance. Dream dictionaries say it represents strength and unity.

I think the author meant that her sentence is set in stone? I had a feeling that it was her fate but I can't find anything that supports that thought.(less)
Sandra Mader I am just over halfway through and have found it a sad read overall. I hope I haven't missed the various symbols and views Tayla, I don't know if I co…moreI am just over halfway through and have found it a sad read overall. I hope I haven't missed the various symbols and views Tayla, I don't know if I could re-read - I rarely do that! It is a fascinating read in terms of the setting, the weather, the landscape and the housing! I was drawn to this read because of that. (less)

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Average rating 4.02  · 
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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.
May 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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,
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 a bo ...more
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
Elyse Walters
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!!!!
Caz (littlebookowl)
So haunting, so beautiful.
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
Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥
”They said I must die. They said that I stole the breath from men, and now they must steal mine.”

I seem to have a talent to choose books with interesting opening lines and this one is no exception to the rule. Regardless of the intriguing start the most important question is always the following though: Was this as “exceptional” and “brilliant” as everyone claims it to be? Well, the answer is “yes” and “no”. If you’re looking for a fast-paced historical fiction you most certainly chose the wrong
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, audiobook
“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
"They said I must die. They said that I stole the breath from men, and now they must steal mine. I imagine, then, that we are all candle flames, greasy-bright, fluttering in the darkness and the howl of the wind, and in the stillness of the room I hear footsteps, awful coming footsteps, coming to blow me out and send my life up away from me in a gray wreath of smoke."

The words of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, convicted for the murders of two men and awaiting execution in early nineteenth century Iceland,
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
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, e-book, overdrive
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
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding debut novel by Kent. I thought this was wonderfully written and the story captivating. I did not mind the change in voice. I found it enriched the story and was not confusing. This novel is based on a true story set in Iceland. A story of Agnes, a woman charged with the murder (along with 2 other servants) of her former employer.

After being imprisoned and beaten she is sent to live with a family while waiting for her execution. Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murder
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
‘they said i must die. they said that i stole the breath from the men, and now they must steal mine.’

on 12 january 1830, agnes magnúsdóttir was beheaded for her accused and convicted involvement in the murder of two men. she was the last person to be executed in iceland. this is her story.

her hauntingly beautiful story. this book is such a good reminder that knowing what someone has done, and knowing who someone is, are two completely separate things. i appreciated the care with which this
Paula K (on hiatus)
Burial Rites, shortlisted for the Bailey's prize in 2013, is a wonderfully haunting debut novel by Australian Hannah Kent.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this well written 1820s tale of Agnes Magnusdottier, convicted murderer of 2 men, who is sent to Northern Iceland to await her execution. This well researched factual novel tells her story of the relationships developed while living on an isolated farm. The unfolding and changing attitude of the farmer's wife, Margret, from being horrified to
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
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
Latest news I've seen - Feb 2018 https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/5...

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: http://hannahkentauthor.com/
The video itself is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpyAo...


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

Hannah Kent writes about a dark,
B the BookAddict
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Andy Marr
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully-written debut, offering an incredible and brutal story of death and survival in early-19th century Iceland. An easy five stars.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xx2018-completed
Fredrik Sugurdsson, Sigridur (Sigga) Gudmundsdóttir, and Agnes Magnúsdóttir have been sentenced to death for the murders of Natan Ketilsson and Pétur Jónsson. They are initially imprisoned and then are literally “farmed out” to families in the surrounding areas to work until such time as their death sentence is to be enacted.

Agnes is found guilty of accessory to murder, arson, and conspiracy to murder. She ends up billeted with Jón Jónsson, the District Officer of Vatnsdalur, his wife Margrét, a
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
Richard (on hiatus)
Burial Rites is definitely a winter novel. Set in Iceland in the 1800’s, the overwhelming atmosphere is cold, dark and bleak. Isolated farms huddle in vast frozen landscapes and rural life is hard.
Much research has gone into creating a realistic setting and the novel is based on a true, well documented story.
Agnes, a woman in her thirties has been condemned to death for her part in the horrific murder of two men. She is sent to the home of a minor official and his family, to be held whilst she
Tamar...playing hooky for a few hours today
Burial Rites is a chilling fictional account of the period leading up to and including the final months in the life of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland, on January 12th 1830. Agnes and two others were found guilty and condemned to death in the murder of Natan Ketilsson, a talented Healer of little (no) moral character and his cohort, Petur Jonsson, a convicted criminal on “free foot”.

Setting aside the depressing notion of capital punishment and the tragic background o
Whitney Atkinson
I give up!!! DNF at 180 pages.

Monkey brain can't handle this. It's far too slow. The writing is nice, and I underlined a lot of parts that I liked, but NOTHING happens except in flashbacks, and even those are slow. Maybe I'll revisit it one day but it's just not the time for me to be reading such dense, slow prose right now
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.
Iryna *Book and Sword*
4.5/5stars(rounded up)
For a full review please visit my my book blog

There's going to be a movie and Jennifer Lawrence will play Agnes. I'm not sure how I feel about that as Lawrence will always be Katniss Everdeen to me. But she is a great actress, so I am still excited for this story to be told through a movie

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 p
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
Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf)
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
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Hannah Kent's first novel, the international bestseller, Burial Rites (2013), was translated into 30 languages and was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 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 People's Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Du ...more

Articles featuring this book

Beheaded with an ax on a snow-covered hillside in 1830, Agnes Magnúsdóttir was the last person executed in Iceland, as told in the new historical...
88 likes · 29 comments
“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.” 328 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.” 160 likes
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