I haven’t read historical fiction in a while and Hannah Kent, the author, is Agnes Magnusdottir incarnate, i’m pretty sure of it.

The book carefully portrays the life of Agnes, who was executed in iceland in 1829 for the murder of two men. Based on a true story and historical documents of the time, Hannah has carefully pieced together the final days of Agnes, respectfully filling in the gaps of this dark, lonely figure in history. It floors me that young Hannah was born in 1985!

Agnes Magnusdottir is an orphan of sorts who suffers a miserable, stark life as a servant and housekeeper in farms and crofts across remote areas of Iceland.  In her thirties, she finally feels a sense of love and belonging but it seems the moment it is given, it is cruelly stripped away.  One cold night, in the dark, two people end up dead and Agnes is sentenced to death for murder, by losing her head.

The book follows Agnes as she is held as a prisoner/servant in a farm, where she must live with a fearful family.  Reverend Toti, visits her on occasion,to talk, to listen, with the aim of absolving her of her sins before she dies.The attention to detail in the book is amazing and you can see quite clearly that Hannah spent many years researching this woman and uncovering a brutal event which happened in a harsh, lonely, windswept croft in Northern Iceland.

Superb writing from such a young writer. If you love historical fiction, then this book should be on your Sydney winter reading list!

Watch the book trailer Book Trailer – Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Buy Burial Rites here

If you have read it, what did you think?