Burial Rites by Hannah Kent was an outstanding novel. It was such an amazing, unique read that I found it hard to put my thoughts on the book into words.
So for today’s review, I’m going to take a cue from River City Reading’s post on the Best Books and Blogger Voices of 2013, and share some of my favorite bloggers’ reviews on Burial Rites.
But first, here’s a quick synopsis:
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.
Leah from Books Speak Volumes said, “This is possibly the best novel I have read this year, and it is an astonishing debut. The storytelling alternates between Agnes’ first-person, internal narration and the broader third-person perspectives of those around her. The sections narrated by Agnes are absolutely stunning. Kent’s writing is gorgeous, evocative, and poetic. There were many passages that I read over and over, even speaking them out loud to feel the beauty of the words forming in my mouth and hear their lyricism out loud.”
Jennine from My Life in Books noted that “Much like stories of the Titanic, you find yourself hoping the end will not happen as you knew it would from the beginning.” And also that “Hannah Kent’s thorough research provides a strong framework for Agnes’s life story and Kent’s writing fills it out beautifully.”
Shannon @ River City Reading read Burial Rites with her in-person book club, and they all were blown away by the author’s use of language. They also compared the book to Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, which makes me want to pick up AG right away!
Rory @ Fourth Street Review said that “Between the main characters, Agnes’ story is the most powerful. There is something incredibly intimate, even when fictional, to having unfiltered access to the thoughts, feelings, and memories of someone who is condemned to die.”
Monika @ A Lovely Bookshelf described how “Agnes’s story is revealed to us through her eyes. Everything Agnes hears, sees, and feels is keenly felt. Hannah Kent’s writing is phenomenal in this way. And the last thirteen pages or so were altogether intense, utterly terrifying, sickening, and beautifully handled.”
Kelly @ Read Lately described Burial Rites as chilling, haunting, and harrowing, but also elegiac and pristine.
Catherine @ The Gilmore Guide to Books stated that “Kent’s prose plays the harshness of Iceland’s climate against the cold and privation of Agnes’ life but as her end nears there is warmth and kindness to be found, even from the most unexpected sources.”