Based on true events and set against the harsh landscape of northern Iceland, Burial Rites tells the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, who was charged with murder and condemned to death in 1829. As she awaits execution, Agnes is held at a remote farm and watched over — first with fear and then with curiosity — by the local district officer's family.
Alternatively told in Agnes's first-person present voice and a third-person past narration, with historical texts sprinkled throughout, the novel is an intricately woven and suspenseful character study.
"As the horses struggle through the tussocks, I wonder when they will kill me. I wonder where they will store me, cellar me like butter, like smoked meat. Like a corpse, waiting for the ground to unfreeze before they can pocket me in the earth like a stone."
Hannah Kent is the author of Burial Rites and the co-founder and publishing director of Kill Your Darlings, an Australian literary journal. Born in Adelaide, she now lives in Melbourne.
Length: 314 pages
Set in: Iceland