Based on a true story, Burial Rites is a superb debut novel which explores the case of the last woman to be publicly beheaded in Iceland in 1829. Agnes Magnusdottir has been charged with the brutal murder of Natan Ketilsson, her former employer, and has been sent to an isolated residence where she is to be detained throughout her trial. Horrified at having a cold murderer in their midst the family, especially Margret the farmer’s wife, who live at the property treat her with disdain and caution. A young assistant priest, Toti, has been appointed her spiritual guardian and must regularly visit her in an attempt to salvage her soul. Through Toti’s visits, the family learns more about Agnes and the crime she’s apparently committed and as the days to the beheading draw closer, they realise all is not what it first seemed.
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