I make no apologies for liking my books with a dash of dragons or a whiff of ghosts. Ever since I discovered there was such a thing as a fantasy section at the library, I have been a faithful devotee of the genre. But every now and then, I like to venture a little further afield, and when I do, I often land in the historical fiction section.
My latest foray into a historical novel was a book that straddles the line between fiction and creative non-fiction. One part mystery did-she-do-it and one part psychological study, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is a lyrical foray into nineteenth-century Iceland that imagines the events surrounding the life and death of Agnes Magnusdottir, a real woman who was charged with the brutal murder of her employer. After being convicted of the crime, Agnes is sent to await her execution at a remote farmstead. At first the farm family and the priest charged with saving her soul are repelled by the mysterious murderess in their midst, but soon the routine and hardship of life in such a harsh landscape brings them together and allows them to look back upon Agnes’ life and the series of decisions that brought them all together.