Thursday, 19 September 2013

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

They said I must die.

Pronouns at the beginning of a story is a Mr. No-No, but I sense this is referring to the proverbial "they" so Hannah is forgiven, because this first sentence is hookoholic.

They said I stole the breath of man, and now they must steal mine.

Damn, is that a tear in my eye? There are some questions here: What is she accused of? Who are they? Is she stealing the breath of man, as in mankind? How are they stealing her breath? If readers finds themselves wondering, it means they're hooked.

Chapter one begins with a public notice informing the public that there will be an auction selling everything from the hay to the horse. Short and tolerable.

Then comes a letter that begins thus:

Thank you for your worthy letter from the 14th, where you wished to be informed of how we attended to the burial of Petur Jonsson from Geitaskard, who is said to have been murdered and burned on the night between the 13th and 14th of this month, with Natan Ketilsson.

From the names we may surmise a Scandinavian setting, always cool, and a murder. That should keep the pages turning until the reader cares about the characters.

First thing said:

"There's a messenger from Hvammur outside, Toti."

Verdict: Cool (I want more)

Theodore Moracht

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