Burial Rights by Hannah Kent {Book Review}



Title: Burial Rights

Author: Hannah Kent

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Publication Date: September 10, 2013

Pages: 322

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Suspense

Source: Finished copy provided by publisher in exchange for honest review


Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. 

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard. 

My Review

This book was something that I’d been meaning to read for a while. Out of the blue, I was sent a finished copy to review a couple months ago, but have been so inundated with ARCs that it took me a while to get to it. But Burial Rights seems like it would be the perfect book for me, and I’ve heard such great things about it since it was published in the fall, so I was very excited to open it up.

And I have to say that I was really enamored with this book — at least, parts of it — but I unfortunately didn’t love it. I’m not sure if maybe it was the hype monster striking again, but it didn’t quite live up to my crazy-high expectations for how awesome I thought it was going to be. But I still enjoyed it. Right from the first page, I knew that this was going to be a cool book. The writing was so deliciously descriptive and lyrical, the characters were intriguing, the setting was amazing…Burial Rights was very unique and a really neat read.

What I didn’t love about it was that it dragged in the middle. I was so engrossed in the beginning, and I don’t think that I could’ve torn my eyes away near the end even if the house was on fire, but the middle hundred pages or so had trouble keeping my attention. I also had trouble relating to any of the characters. They all seemed so distant. Very interesting, but not people I ended up forming a connection with. I did feel a little something towards the end, but there just wasn’t a whole lot of emotion involved in this story. Even the last page, it was just like, “…..that’s it?” The afterword’s explanation of the story suddenly made a lot of sense. Apparently what happens in this book is very much taken from historical documents. I think the author had trouble coloring outside of the lines and giving the characters more heart than just those words from old Icelandic records. But the writing style beyond that, mostly the descriptions, was incredibly good.

Ultimately, I would recommend this book to fans of lyrical writing, historical fiction, and intriguing characters…but I’d warn them that this book is possibly over-hyped. But even if somebody were to only read this book for all of those amazing descriptions of the Icelandic countryside, it would almost be worth it!

My Rating

3.5 anchors

2 responses to “Burial Rights by Hannah Kent {Book Review}

  1. Sorry to hear this book didn’t quite work for you; it was one of my favorites last year. I’ll agree that the ending fell kind of flat, though. Agnes’s perspective is so powerful, and the perspective change in the last chapter felt anticlimactic.

  2. I would agree that! It was a bit overhyped for me, especially as someone who isn’t HUGE on historical fiction. I actually finally connected in the last chapter but I had a hard time connecting in the beginning and the middle really did drag for me too 😦

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