In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover. Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district officer Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed.
Based on actual events, Burial Rites is an astonishing and moving novel about the truths we claim to know and the ways in which we interpret what we’re told. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland’s formidable landscape, in which every day is a battle for survival, and asks, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
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A magical exercise in artful literary fiction.
Kirkus Reviews - Starred Review Full Review
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
This novel of a condemned woman in nineteenth-century Iceland grips like a northern winter.
This is an accomplished, finely textured and memorable work. Linda Funnell
The Newtown Review of Books Full Review
Grimly gorgeous... Such upfront buzz often raises expectations so high that the book itself can only disappoint. I have no such fears for Burial Rites; if there’s any justice in the world, it’s going to win every accolade going.
Author of Sea Hearts and Cracklescape.
Grimly gorgeous... Such upfront buzz often raises expectations so high that the book itself can only disappoint. I have no such fears for Burial Rites; if there’s any justice in the world, it’s going to win every accolade going.Margo Lanagan
Ambiguous Agnes Kent’s skill in driving the twin narratives of the murders and the executions to their ghastly inevitabilities demonstrates that she is a writer of great promise.
Australian Book Review Full Review
Kent’s skill in driving the twin narratives of the murders and the executions to their ghastly inevitabilities demonstrates that she is a writer of great promise.Bronwyn Lea
Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites shows how a seemingly simple tale — a murder, a family, a remote landscape — can prove mythic in scale in the right hands. Spell-binding and moving, it’s the kind of novel that gets under your skin, moves your blood, your heart. A bravura debut. Megan Abbott
Hannah Kent's gorgeous and haunting Burial Rites will touch your heart. Charlotte Rogan, author of 'The Lifeboat'
A compelling read, heart-breaking and uplifting in equal measure. Anne Berry, author of 'The Hungry Ghosts'
"So gripping I wanted to rush through the pages, but so beautifully written I wanted to linger over every sentence. Hannah Kent's debut novel is outstanding." Madeline Miller, author of 'The Song of Achilles'
Here is an original new voice, with a deep and lovely grasp of language and story. Hannah Kent's first novel, Burial Rites, is an accomplished gem, its prose as crisp and sparkling as its northern setting. Geraldine Brooks
Burial Rites is beautiful and compelling...the announcement of a writer to watch. Sarah Moss
This is a tormented tale of love and betrayal and divided loyalties recounted with heartfelt honesty; and as the Jonsdottirs listen to the unravelling of Agnes’s life, their relationship with her undergoes a slow transformation and lonely Agnes changes from a cold, murderous criminal to a troubled young woman. An exceptional debut. Eithne Farry
The Daily Express
Beautifully written, this is a novel that will draw you in and touch your heart. Agnes will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. Hannah Britt
The true story at the heart of Hannah Kent’s acclaimed debut couldn’t fail to be compelling, but what impresses most about this novel is the skill and power with which Kent conveys the bite of poverty, hunger and loneliness and the oppressive, sinister weight of the portents and nightmares that convincingly plague those who dwell in the harsh Icelandic landscape.
The Daily Mail Full Review
This is a truly powerful novel, beautifully written. Victoria Clark
The Lady - Book of the Week
Kent excavates the final months of Agnes’s life, pieced intricately together from historical records. The result is a story of swirling sagas, poetry, bitterness, claustrophobia, the adversity of the seasons, and of almost existential loneliness. Catherine Taylor
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
An excellent premise… [and] a gripping tale about what Agnes was actually guilty of. Susannah Meadows
The New York Times
The story of Agnes’ execution is the spark that sets Kent’s novel beautifully ablaze…. It’s a difficult task to evoke empathy for a convicted murderer from Iceland, but Kent succeeds through her beautiful, lyrical language and incredibly skilled narrative…. In this, her first novel, she proves her gift as a sculptor of narrative and a wielder of words. Claire Luchette
Gorgeously atmospheric…. [with] memorable, complex characters.
The New Yorker
A brooding, atmospheric debut.
If you read nothing else this fall, read Burial Rites: The pages turn themselves. Steph Opitz
In the company of works by Hilary Mantel, Susan Vreeland, and Rose Tremain, this compulsively readable novel entertains while illuminating a significant but little-known true story. Highly recommended. Barbara Love
Library Journal- starred review
Rarely has a country’s starkness and extreme weather been rendered so exquisitely. The harshness of the landscape and the lifestyle of nineteenth-century Iceland, with its dank turf houses and meager food supply, is as finely detailed as the heartbreak and tragedy of Agnes’ life…. [A] haunting reading from a bright new talent. Joanne Wilkinson
Booklist Starred Review
This is a golden age both of historical fiction and of crime writing. A rare novel that combines both, this is one of the most gripping, intriguing and unique books I’ve read this year. Set in the harsh landscape of Iceland in the 19th century, it is a novel that bristles with beautiful description, that lays bare the harshness of women’s lives of the period and considers the nature of justice. Kate Mosse
Prejudice melts away in a frigid landscape
Hannah Kent has a fine turn of phrase. It is this, more than anything, that makes Agnes Magnusdottir, the central figure in her debut novel, both elusive and captivating. Michael McGirr
The Sydney Morning Herald Full Review
Kent smoothly incorporates her impressive research— for example, she opens many of the chapters with documents that come directly from archival sources—while giving life to these historical figures and suspense to their tales.
Publishers Weekly Full Review
…a remarkable achievement. Although it is the debut of an Australian writer still only in her twenties, Burial Rites will stand comparison with Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace and Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang, works that similarly required their authors to get inside the heads of real-life criminals from distant eras.
Sunday Times Culture
Burial Rites is a debut of rare sophistication and beauty – a simple but moving story, meticulously researched and hauntingly told Lucy Scholes
A haunting, accomplished debut. Emma Herdman
Compelling. Fanny Blake's Great Reads
Woman & Home
Haunting and beautiful.
<p>Digging in Iceland</p>
Burial Rites is a highly impressive debut. Brian McCade
Sunday Herald Full Review
Based on the true story of the last woman to be executed in Iceland, Burial Rites is an incredibly moving novel and Hannah Kent evokes the harsh tundras of Iceland and the desolation of a powerless young woman living out her last days in a masterful way. Top 10 Must Reads of August
This Aussie writer has gone from living on a student loan to hammering out a seven-figure book deal, thanks to her astonishing first novel Burial Rites. A rich yarn set in bleak 1820s Iceland. Hot New Authors: Young, Cool and Crazy Talented
Burial Rites is an exciting debut based on a true story. Set in Iceland 1829, it is the tale of a convicted murderess who gradually reveals a very different take on the events that lead to her arrest.
The debut that everyone’s talking about.
Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites is a cool, atmospheric, historical thriller set in 19th-century Iceland that follows the story of a young woman accused of murder and awaiting execution. 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, author of The Book of Life
Jennifer Lawrence set to star in the film adaptation of Burial Rites
Hannah Kent, Renee Knight and Clare Mackintosh are Christmas Crime Favourites
Burial Rites attracts tourists to Iceland
Hannah Kent and Donna Tartt shortlisted for the Public Book Award
Hannah Kent shortlisted for IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
Summer Reads 2014
Hannah Kent appearing at Queen Elizabeth Hall
Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites wins at the 2014 Australian Booksellers Association awards
Burial Rites shortlisted for Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
Hannah Kent and Kristina Olsson on Stella Prize Shortlist
Atwood, Bhutto, Kent, Quindlen and Tartt on Baileys Prize longlist
Hannah Kent wins the People’s Choice at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
Malala Yousafzai and Margaret Atwood are Good Reads readers’ favourites
Burial Rites shortlisted for Guardian First Book Award
Burial Rites Film Adaptation To Star Jennifer Lawrence
Hannah Kent's Burial Rites longlisted for the Guardian first book award 2013
Curtis Brown and ICM authors at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2013
Hannah Kent chosen as one of ABA's top debut authors
Excitement ahead of the release of Hannah Kent’s Burial Rights
Hannah Kent and DW Wilson selected in Waterstones debuts of 2013