Top positive review
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Poetic and atmospheric
on 19 April 2015
Based on a true story, Burial Rites tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, an Icelandic woman in the 1830s who is found guilty of murder along with two others and sentenced to death. She is placed with a local family on their farm until the date of her execution and naturally they are horrified to be sharing their small home with a murderess. The first half of the book focuses more on Agnes's removal from her prison and placement with the family and then the second half focuses on what led Agnes to be accused of the murder of her lover/employer and another man.
This book was recommended to me as being similar to The Miniaturist, which I had loved. In many ways, this is correct, as it's got the same sort of slow and detailed style to it, and Burial Rites is a book which needs to be read at a slower pace than some books. It's very atmospheric and drew me into the area and gave me an appreciation of the desolation of the landscape in Iceland at that time. Agnes's story is interesting to read and I enjoyed both the parts where she told the story and the bits in the third person from the viewpoint of the young priest she asks to help her through the time before her execution, and the various family members with whom she finds herself living.
This is a very good book and I enjoyed it very much, but I can't say it was the easiest read. It has a poetic style about it but I didn't find it over the top in this respect. I think it will be interesting to see what this author does next.