Burial Rites, Australian author Hannah Kent's debut novel, is a beautifully crafted and haunting historical mystery. It is a bleak story set in the bleak landscape of an Icelandic winter, full of darkness and pain. Readers of history and literary fiction alike will enjoy the story.
Set in Iceland in the 1820s, Burial Rites tells the story of a young maid condemned to death for the murder of her former employer. The story is a well researched examination of a true crime and gives readers an incredible view of Icelandic history and culture. Kent's bleak prose provide insight into the condemned maid, but stop short of empathy. I think this novel will appeal to readers of history as well as those fond of literary fiction because of the factual and unemotional writing. The ending felt a bit rushed, but that is a minor criticism.
Overall, Burial Rites was a fascinating look at a crime in a time and place foreign to me. Kent's bleak prose fit both the story and its setting. I look forward to reading Kent's next work.
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