Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

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This book caught my eye with its beautiful cover and Icelandic background. As soon as I found out the genre was murder mystery orientated I knew I wanted to get stuck right in. This is a genre I haven’t read a lot of this year despite loving the murder-mystery and spooky plots in the book world.

Burial Rites centres round the life of Agnes, a woman condemned to death following the murder of two men. She is forced to stay in the home of an official whilst awaiting her execution and due to her circumstances the people around her fear and belittle her. The plot unravels around Agnes’s past and her upbringing, the Christian beliefs of the Icelandic people and the idea that she has been criminalised from her upbringing rather than her actions.

I found this book to be a little slow, the narrative switches between different characters point of view as Agnes talks about her feelings as she reflects on the past and the Reverend talks about his feelings as he learns more about Agnes. I appreciate the intensity of the plot, the serious events of which it unfolds but overall I found the story to develop quite slowly.

The characters all come across quite tense and mysterious. Although the plot develops on the knowledge of characters past and personalities, they still remain cloudy to the reader. Even near the end of the book I still didn’t feel like I had fully delved into the book and was just observing from the outside of a very dirty window.

This book was nothing like I’d read before in the sense that it was unusual and individual on a plot basis but I also didn’t feel emotionally attached to any of the characters, I didn’t feel emotional towards their situations or the events taking place around them and I found it quite difficult to spark an attraction to the book.

I cannot deny the sheer writing brilliance of Hannah Kent whose vocabulary and writing was beautifully structured and layered throughout the book. Some extracts lingered in my mind a matter of pages later and I found her writing style to be mature and sophisticated.

I am glad I read this book as it was a great story, it had all the qualities of a good murder mystery but for me I felt it is a once only read. I think it has more to do with me as a reader and what I look for in a book and because I appreciate the intensity and quality of the book I am giving it a 3 out of 5 stars on goodreads. I genuinely think it would be enjoyed better by someone who likes a more adult plot, who takes time with reading and enjoys a plot that is a little more complicated and dense.

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