I finished this book on December 1st, so I thought I’d put the review here as a part of Blogmas.
Northern Iceland, 1829.
A woman condemned to death for murdering hr lover.
A family forced to take her in.
A priest tasked with absolving her.
But all is not as it seems, and time is running out:
winter is coming, and with it the execution date.
Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes’s story.
This story is based on true facts. There really was an Agnes Magnúsdóttir, she was convicted for murder. The book speaks of sagas and poems that exist. There are parts written in Icelandic.
I am really impressed by this book. The story builds up nicely. You get the right amount of information at the right time. The characters are interesting and well-written. The amount of background information is incredible because it is, as I said, based on historic facts, stories passed down by generations.
The story is also very atmospheric, I could imagine the farms, the badstofas but also the way the characters felt, from the pull their tightly braided hair to the fear and sadness because of the detail in her descriptions (such as the smell of sweat which she mentions regularly). The many references to the weather also add to the story. The way she puts the wind and the cold into words, makes you forget that you’re sitting at home, under a blanket, all warm and cozy.
The Independent said it’s “One of the best Scandinavian crime novels he/she’s read”, I don’t think I would say this is a crime novel or at least it didn’t feel like one to me. There is the story of the murder and how it all happened and I guess that that means it’s a crime novel but I think it’s more about Agnes as a person, as a woman trying to build a life for herself and trying to accept what’s going to happen to her. It’s about trust and love and how things can take a turn for the worst if you trust and love the wrong people.
If you have the chance to read this book, I highly recommend it!!
One of my favourite books of 2014.
Bookcover on Pinterest.