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  • Location: Iceland, Kornsa

Burial Rites

Burial Rites

Why a Booktrail?

1829 – The story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland…

  • ISBN: 978-1447233176
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

Northern Iceland, 1829.

Hannah Kent tells us that she ended up in Iceland on year abroad quite by mistake yet she made the best of it and became so enraptured by the country and the story of Agnes Magnusdottir on a trip with her host family that she felt compelled to write her story! And transport us all there to Iceland with her no doubt…

Agnes is a woman who is condemned to death for murdering her lover and is sent to a family who is forced to take her in and ‘look after’ her whilst her execution date draws ever near. This is a cold, harsh land and the priest who comes to absolve her hears the most remarkable of stories.

Travel Guide

Northern Iceland, 1829.

This is the story of Agnes Magnusdottir; a woman condemned to death for the murder of her employer and the last woman to be executed in Iceland. She is sent to live with a good Christian family in Kornsa to redeem herself before God before being led off to be executed for her crime –
“They said I must die. They said that I stole the breath from men and now they must steal mine.”

This is a book where the setting is central to the plot – chilling, raw, eerie and desperately cold and in this way becomes a leading character itself.

“We are passing through the strange hills at the mouth of the valley and I  hear the caw of ravens. Their dark shapes look like omens against the brilliant blue of the sky.

“Cruel birds, ravens, but wise.”
The story stood out for the fact that it is based on true life and for the smatterings of Icelandic words and phrases dotted throughout the novel, makes for a thrilling and chilling literary journey to a country that is not the usual setting for a book, especially one written by a non Icelandic author.

Agnes tells her story to Reverend Toti and you feel everyone last bit of the heat from the stove in the kitchen as she starts to tell her story. The story of Agnes however is only part of the real story of Burial Rites – the book is so intricately researched and crafted that we learn about Iceland through its people, customs and traditions of the time.

Booktrailer Review

Susan @thebooktrailer

Wow this was quite a read. The way Hannah ended up in Iceland in the first place is  a story in itself but the story she found and wrote into a fictional account is quite amazing and more so as it’s based on true facts.

The prose and chapter lengths  – interspersed with letters, official communications from theDistrict Commissioner to the Reverend, and the thoughts of Agnes make for a haunting read, reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace and Wuthering Heights. One of the documents even covers the horrifying possibility of postponing the execution if the weather is too bad!

The story stood out as well for the smatterings of Icelandic words and phrases dotted throughout the novel and this makes for a thrilling and chilling literary journey to a country that is not the usual setting for a book, especially one written by a non Icelandic author.

I can see how Hannah Kent was so fascinated with Agnes and the events of 1829.

Outside of the main plot and central themes, there is one line – both in Icelandic and English that I have written in  a notebook for safe keeping –

Blindur er bóklaus maður – Blind is a man without a book

There are many lines that I have written in a notebook for safekeeping, such is the magical prose of the writing. Flowing,  raw, with the ability to change direction and mood at anytime -rather like the wind and the chilling atmosphere and story it is crafted to portray.

You can feel, see, taste and hear the landscape as you read. Stunning!

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:

Twitter: @HannahFKent

Facebook: /HannahKentAuthor

Web: hannahkentauthor.com

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