February 3, 2016

Burial Rites

Burial Rites
Hannah Kent


(February 3, 2016)

This haunting tale of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, a condemned murderer in 1829 Iceland, was much-discussed at Readercon. Kent does a wonderful job of world-building, crafting rural Iceland’s remote and cloistered society with effortless skill that recalls the first impact of Wolf Hall. This is a world where medieval horror still lurks on every doorstep, where the nearest neighbor is too distant to save you in case of fire or sudden snow, where letting the fire go out may well be a fatal error, a place where condemned prisoners can be sent to rural farms to await execution because it’s cheaper than keeping them in a jail that doesn’t exist because there’s not much call for one and, even if the prisoners ran, they’d just freeze or starve.