Back at the start of this year the House of Blog Book Club took me out of my reading comfort zone with Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites.
Nothing like what I would usually pick up, but with a beautiful cover and intriguing title, I used my monthly Audible credit to purchase the unabridged audio copy so I could listen whilst I went about the housework.
I reviewed Burial Rites after I finished it and said that images from it haunted me – they still do several months later. The writing was so stunning – stark and lyrical in equal measure. I have rarely come across books written in such a way that I am so completely lost in them – I could hear, smell, taste and see everything she described throughout the book and I found myself almost feeling homesick after it was finished because I felt I had been there for the duration of the story.
Listening to Burial Rites on my phone shoved in my back pocket meant that I was utterly transported – more than once I found myself paused mid-task, tense as I listened to some drama unfold – flinching when something startled me. Or else crying unashamedly as I shoved washing into the machine as I felt the utter despair of the characters.
There was a lot of despair in this book – it is based on the true story of the last few months of a convicted murderer in Iceland. The last person to be beheaded for a crime.
There is no room for hope when you know there is an ending like that – usually hope carries a story but in this case it was the inevitable horror of the ending that kept you crashing through the story which was a beautifully clever mixture of fiction, carefully researched history and genuine extracts of text from the case.
It was smooth and heartbreaking and haunting and I am so very glad I chose to join in with the book club that month because it is a book that will stay with me for a long time to come and I will almost definitely revisit.
Even if you aren’t into historical fiction, I suggest picking this book up. But keep the tissues handy.
Coming soon on CFHW…
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