Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs ~ 2011

And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive

Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books; 1st edition
Publication: June 7, 2011
Pages: 352
Language: English
ISBN: 9781594744761
Jacket photo: Yefim Tovbis
Author photographer: Well, after reading this novel - Mmm.

5 Stars

Ransom Riggs
Boy I tell you folks, this young-adult debut was not what I expected from one of the most scare reads of all according to talk, gossip, and being in the top of its genre. What I expected never had any bearing to my newly found adventure.

What Ransom Riggs did was floor me on the concept. And then add supreme writing into a horror fantasy filled paranormal read it ended up being a hauntingly good time.

The various photographs found along the way of his trek through life and employing them into a One of the Most Enjoyable Reads in a Long Ass Time tale, my hat is off with a proffered bow and I thank you Mr. Riggs.
Smashing bow-tie by the way.

One of the many things I took away from this novel it is a great read for deciding to fight your demons and get out from under the protectiveness of mom's apron and get on with life. Time does not stand still...or? Good discussion.

Sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman goes through a traumatic encounter from the death of his grandfather. The way he died, where he died and with Grandpa Portman's dieing words still fresh upon his memory ... " Go to the island, Yakob. Here it's not safe."... "Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man's grave. September third, 1940." "Emerson-the letter... Jacob nodded but did not understand. Grandpa fades. 

After numerous times seeing his psychiatrist, Dr. Golan, and countless nightmares he ventures onto a journey. To a remote island off the coast of Wales to the orphan home his grandfather lived as a child. Hopefully to find answers.

Jacob does come across the old dilapidated home with the help of the sickest rapping duo in Wales, Emcee Worm and Sturgeon Surgeon. They showed the way but, only so far. Jacob continues on his quest and soon, before him, was the home where his grandfather spoke so highly of standing there  cloaked in a fog; holding his answers? (This writing here at this point is on point.) As Jacob roamed the hallways and rooms he really wasn't sure of what he wanted to find. Some old box full of letters? Box of photos? A....?

He finds a hell of a lot more. Jacob finds an old trunk and after quite the consideration of how to open it without any damage - to the inside contents included, he shoves it off the second story balcony. Now while going through the contents of what once a beautiful trunk, he hears noise above him and peering over the floor edge were children of a peculiar nature. Almost familial but not. That's the type of writing Ransom Riggs gives you.

Ransom Riggs takes the reader onto a haunted thrill from here. If you enjoy reading, Ransom's pace of escalating the beginning of a tale to explaining all 'loose-ends' being explained the right moment to a decisive end leaves his tale with you for quite the time. His whole delivery was a very enjoyable read.

His characters are picture perfect; pun is included.

Emma, Bronwyn, Enoch, Millard and all the rest from Miss Pergrine's care. The hollowgast, wights, ymbrynes and if you had the pleasure in reading this novel, even the name Malthus is also what I consider picture perfect.

Emma's growth as a character was the one for me that stood out. Her mortified chase in the beginning, her brush of the back of her hand against Jacob's, her decision at the end of the novel. Great character, yet not my favorite. Thinkin' the bartender.

Ransom describes each dressed to the part. Manners, voice, attitudes were all individualized and if you would find yourself walking into the Priest's Hole, you'd be able to tell who's who. The same as you would feel being in Miss Peregrine's home.

Jumping back and forth, Ransom Riggs segues Jacobs time into a haunted fantasy filled realization of living in an infinite loop state of being versus continuing life as it should.  Turns out he's just like his grandpa. The writing had me.

There's a storm a-brewing and your up north on a remote island off of Wales' coastline. Mr. Riggs has you there literally feeling the elements both physical and during at that time in the novel, those visceral dealings Jacob is going through. Simply folks, love it when an author takes me on a vacation somewhere in the world and I am right there along with the moments enjoying the view.

There is a lot to cover in this book actually and surmising it all into a relatively quick review would not at all do any justice for the work of Mr.Riggs' tale. I hit on a couple points, though could you imagine where you would go discussing this novel? Quite suitable for an endless loop of book club discussions, I will add. As when I stated above, one of the over all experiences one may get from reading this young adult ... is you have to cut the apron strings sooner or later. Face your Demons and keep that foot going forward knowing very dire situations of life are out there.

I would like to give a special thanks and an appreciation toward all the folk who were kind enough to allow Ranson Riggs pepper his tale with their photographs Jacob comes across to help tell the tale. 

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children delivers a haunting journey with Jacob, his father, his father's father, their acquaintances both bad and good, and Jacob's new friends.

Heck, recommended this book to your friends folks. Seriously.

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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: Director's Cut

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children  -  'The Vision of Tim Burton'  Featurette

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 Here's where you can get your fingers on Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children:

  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $3.99 ~ Hardcover $11.97 ~ Paperback $5.71 USD

In regards to Ransom Riggs visit his page at his site and while your there check out his current events.

 Everyone do enjoy ~

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Greythorne by L.M. Merrington ~ 2015

"The dead walk tonight."

Author: L. M. Merrington
Publisher: Momentum Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd
Publication: October 8th 2015
Kindle edition
Jacket design: Raewyn Brack
Author photographer: James Walsh

"This book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

5 Stars

L. M. Merrington
Reading a debut in the genre you enjoy? They are a slice of life's pleasures when they grab you and demand your sigh of contentment when you finish your read.

Greythorne will do this to you.

L. M. Merrington's writing is such a comfortable read, the tension she brings you while your reading is supreme.

When I read the blurb for Greythorne, it had me thinking of one of my favorite books - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. To my enjoyment, after I started this novel I threw out Frankenstein and went on another 'vacation'; a spot I have not had the pleasure of visiting.

Though Greythorne does mirror the same type of settings and scenes as Frankenstein, appreciation goes out to the twists to the lay of the land both inside and out of Greythorne Manor.

The story opens with a bright 18 year old young lady by the name of Nell Featherstone at the train station traveling to the village of Grimly to take charge of eight year old Sophie Greythorne. Nell had lost her parents to typhoid fever at an early age and grew up at the Brookvale Girls Home.

Sophie's father Doctor Nathaniel Greythorne had lost his wife Lucy and wrote to Brookvale Girls Home requesting a governess for his daughter. A governess who ..."must not be of the temperment to pine for society or gaiety, for she will not find it here ... a sensible, practical girl, but not of a disposition so dour that mirth is a stranger to her." ...

After reading the letter, the Matron thought of Nell immediately and with Nell being not averse to keeping company and a girl of good sense, it had been decided. Nell will be the new governess at Greythorne Manor. Matron had informed Nell not to fear her travels for she will have escorts picking her up at her destinations.

Her travels are a new experience for her and everyone she meets there at the train station and on the way are kind and personable. The plump apple-red cheeked Elsie Drabble was her riding companion and Elsie was delighted to find someone to talk to on such a long journey. And talk she did.

After inquiring where Nell was bound, Mrs. Drabble's demeanor changed and her friendly eyes were suddenly hooded. As all whom she had contact with finding out her destination.

Curious thoughts arise in her as you can imagine.

She arrives in Grimly spending the night at the cozy looking Grimly Arms. Grimly Arms is ran by Arthur Greernslade and his wife Frances, both having the persona of a fatherly/motherly type. Just great down-to-earth folk. And yes, even Arthur and his wife have the same demeanor as Mrs. Drabble about her destination. Arthur claims that Greythorne Manor is no place for a child and no place for a young lady as Nell. ..."There's queer goings-on there, it's said." ... being rest assured from Frances, if the place is not for Nell she could come back to Grimly Arms and find a different path to venture.

Her escort Mr. Jonas would not be arriving to take her the rest of the way till lunchtime due to having to wait for the tide, so the three of them attend church. Again the scenario: some members of the congregation including the vicar, Mr. Davis himself, deem that accepting a position at Greythorne Manor may be ill-advised.

Why wouldn't any one tell her the 'Why'?

After church and a lunch the bell on the main door of Grimly Arms rang out from the arrival of Mr. Jonas.

Mr. Jonas who does a lot of grunting is a long time assistant to Nathaniel and along with Sophie they populate the island of where the lonesome and imposing Greythorne Manor sits. He collects her trunk of all her worldly possessions and they both set off rowing toward the island. Thoughts of what was "not said" about the place run through her as her final destination comes into view.

Who knows? It could very well be that Doctor Nathaniel Greythorne is nothing more but a reclusive grief-stricken eccentric old man. Nell is quite determined on her mission of molding Sophie into a bright and sociable woman and show to all how wrong they'd been about the "rumors and superstitions".

They arrive and instead of using the front door (which has not been used since Lucy's death) they enter through what was clearly the servants entrance. Nell is led through the family areas and along a wide hallway where Jonas finally stops and takes a large ring of keys from his pocket and opens a door. 

"These are you quarters," he said. "The schoolroom and Mistress Sophie's bedroom are connected by an internal door. You may go to these ares, the kitchen, the library, the drawing room, the dining room, and the garden; not to wander anywhere else. Is that clear?"

She meets Sophie, pale and wispy, her bone structure as fine as a bird and a complexion the color of milk. Dark eyes in a pale face. Aloof of Nell's presence.
She finally says hello to Nell and asks, "How does the moon affect the tide? I would ask Papa, but he's busy."


A couple of days later she is introduced to the doctor and he is pleased to find that he is having dinner with an erudite. The days go by and turn to months, Sophie and Nell start to bond and Nell is intrigued with the history of this little girl and all the strangeness of Greythorne Manor.

As the story moves along in all its eeriness, Nell wonders what ever happened to Lucy Greythorne and what will become of her daughter?

Their days begin to fall into a rhythm of learning in the morning with the afternoons devoted to creative pursuits. Nell finds Sophie is quite the explorer and learns she has discovered things. Things no one else knows.

She also learns of Sophie's nightmares are practically a nightly event.

After a brutal storm, Jonas and Nell survey the damage and discover Lucy Greythorne's grave is unearthed and - empty.  Jolted to the core of your very being you could imagine the fright young Nell went through.

Jonas in a uncharacteristic gentleness: "Don't worry, miss, the mistress ain't there."

Ms. Merrington's writing grabbed me from the start. Her haunting imagery descriptions of the scenes and settings throughout this novel are perfect. This novel moves with a fluid controlled pace and to tell the truth - my pace was not quick enough to find out what in the world was going on. 

That night in the lab. Deep in the bowels of Greythorne Manor. The truth. The enigmatic closure of all the gossip and superstitions that surrounded the village of Grimly lay.

The epilogue is a fantastic edge-of-your-seat clincher. From all the hard work Ms. Merrington had put into this read I really don't want give any clue on what happens.

I will say though, Nell Featherstone works very hard in deciding what to do. A decision that might affect lives - especially hers.

Pure. Simple. Evilicious.

- Recommended for all horror lovers -


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Here's where you can get your fingers on Greythorne:
  • Amazon ~ Kindle: $3.45 ~  Paperback ~ $14.99  USD
  • Indiebound.org ~ support your local book store

About the author

L.M. Merrington was born in Melbourne, Australia. She has worked as a freelance journalist and academic, and holds a PhD in international relations, focusing on the China-India relationship. Her journalism and academic writing has appeared in publications including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Bulletin. Greythorne is her first novel.

 Visit L. M. Merrington

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Melophobia by James Morris ~ 2015

"Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and charm and gaiety to life and to everything" - Plato

Author: James Morris
Publisher: Kindle Press
Publication: September 22, 2015
Pages: 265
Jacket design: StoryWonk
© Ba-mi / Dreamstime.com - Violin Key Sign Photo

 "This book was provided by James Morris in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

5 Stars

James Morris
Could you imagine a world without the sounds of a soothing symphony caressing your ears or a toe-tapping jingle that puts a smile on your face or a tune where you have to get up and dance the night away or while your waiting at the traffic light, no ear-splitting bass coming from the car next you or ... could you?

You'll have to folks or be prepared for The Patrol.

Kindle Scout winner James Morris spins a tale about music and whether you are playing it, singing it, recording it, distributing it, or even listening to it has dire consequences you would have wished never came your way. Those that are caught are re-educated, or “Re-Edged” using 4 different levels of punishment. Each level increases in severity, depending on the penalty.

Merrin Pierce and Anders Copeland who work for The Patrol, a department ran from the State to put an end to all forms of music, continue their quest with the War on Moral Decay. They even visit elementary schools making sure the children are understanding music is bad and as Anders declares, "It is a sickness and we want to make people better."

After becoming a top dog in her field, Merrin and Anders hunt for the main distributor of illegal music who is dubbed The Source. The Source, or as Chief Salem puts it, is Public Enemy Number One and must be eradicated. They must plug the leak.

Her father, Tarquin Pierce, is the Minister of Broadcast Standards. "Music makes people do awful things." So, all music must go through his office for approval and as long as the pre-approved Musak incites no passion you're good to go.

Tarquin's right hand man, Rowan Sol, mixes Musak for Tarquin's approval and this clean cut young man is the exemplar of what the State likes to see.

Merrin, who goes by the undercover name Melody, finds people all around her wearing two "faces". She and Anders infiltrate underground 'clan' meetings to get to The Source and find there are many people they know who are there listening, admiring album covers, and dancing. Even her best friend Cassie is there indulging in criminal behavior.

Throughout this novel, Merrin finds herself going down memory lane and questioning her inner principals and beliefs. A bit like a love story, Merrin finds love going awry and a true love that will never be felt and - is it even fathomable?? her love for music, what?!

The Source is organizing the greatest concert of all time and as this story comes to a tension filled climatic ending, with the elite Strike Force of the Patrol homing in and chaos erupting all around, is this "...the day the music dies..." or are Tarquin Pierce and the State face with what they have coming to them?

Melophobia makes you aware of all the music that is around us. Whether you have an affinity for jazz, rock, country, classical, blues, or any of the other genre's you'll appreciate your choice a hell of a lot more.

The setting in this novel is of a pure dystopian realm. James Morris had created signposts that make you turn pages with hope running through you at a very controlled pace.

The character development shows how you should be true to yourself and accept others for who they are. Their dialogue and inter-dialogue represented folks making dire decisions on what is permitted and not permitted in this insane land of no music. Takes everyone to make this world go 'round.

Folks, if you love music and what it does for your soul, you'll love Melophobia. What I really enjoyed in this novel are the many citations of artists and their songs and I kept saying to myself, "...put another dime in the jukebox baby..."

James Morris, a former NBC television writer, has segued into the Digital Media world with the utmost inventiveness in grabbing the reader into a dystopian world I personally don't want to be in. This novel reintroduced my love and appreciation for music tenfold.

May the beat go on ...

Highly recommended folks, highly recommended.

Here's where you can get your fingers on Melophobia:
  • Amazon  ~  Kindle  ~  $3.49 ~ Paperback ~ $12.99  USD
  • IndieBound  ~  Support your local book stores

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About the author  ~

Connect with James

I am a creative professional with over ten years of experience in digital, business and creative writing, providing cross-media content solutions.  As a former television writer with produced credits including “Smallville” and “Crossing Jordan,” I worked with a team of writers pitching, crafting and following ideas from concept to script to final episode.  This necessitated the ability to deliver within tight deadlines, on budget, while integrating notes from various stakeholders.  I love brainstorming ideas for seemingly intractable problems.

I have since entered the digital world and worked with companies such as NBC.com and the health care industry copywriting, blogging and editing. 

I have also taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension, which focused on the art of short films, where through lectures, assignments and screenings, I guided students towards the completion of a short script. 

I continue to learn about the ever-evolving world of social and content marketing, and my goal is to take my love of storytelling and help corporations tell their own stories, as well as continuing to write my own.

To check out a list of my professional writing credits, check out my IMDb.com page.

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Reviews for

~  James Morris  ~

 What Lies Within


Feel Me Fall


An interview with James Morris

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 From James Morris:

 Abraham Lincoln Must Die

President Lincoln was a national hero – or so we believe. But the truth is more disturbing. When a visitor from a distant planet arrives during the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln enlists him to save the Union. But at what cost?
In Initiation, a young boy on the cusp of puberty realizes he is changing in more ways than one.
And in Crash, a woman finds an unexpected ally at work with deadly consequences.
Abraham Lincoln Must Die & Two Other Tales invites you see the world in totally unexpected and terrifying ways.

  • Amazon ~ Kindle Price  $0.99 USD

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HANNAHWHERE by John McIlveen ~ 2015

“Your memory is a monster; you forget - it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you - and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!”
—John Irving (A Prayer for Owen Meany)

Author: John McIlveen
Publisher: Macabre Ink, a division of Crossroads Press
Published: June 27, 2015
Pages: 372
ISBN: 978-1-941408-62-9
Jacket design: David Dodd at Crossroads Publishing
Author photographer: Tony Tremblay

"This book was provided by John McIlveen in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

5 Stars

John McIlveen
Hannahwhere, the latest novel from John McIlveen has all the elements for a fast-paced emotionally complex intriguing read. (And I cannot get enough adjectives in that sentence)

Seven year old twins, Hannah and Anna Amiel witness a horrific crime in their own home in Elm Creek, Nebraska and they have to "Ruuunnn!" to their "safe" place only to find their sanctuary gets violated too.

Two years later and fifteen hundred miles away Isaac Rawls, a self-labeled trash jockey, was making his rounds when he discovers a cold, dirty, and shoeless girl behind a Dumpster. Instantly an anger shot through him - Who did this?!  After dialing 911 he took the child into the warmth of his cab and awaited for the authorities.

Debbie Gillian, a case worker for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, gets the case of the small catatonic girl found behind that Dumpster.

Days later, Debbie "reaches" the girl and finds out her name is Hannah. Not only does Debbie reach the girl, she finds while digging into Hannah's background her reality is slipping away. Or is it?

Detective Phil Davenport, Riverside Police CACU (Crimes Against Children Unit) has everything I would expect from a cop who wants nothing more than the bottom line: needs to work on patience, social manners, respect for victims feelings, etc..

He comes with news - Hannah Amiel is a twin and, her sister is missing too. And now the story becomes complex.

This novel is flooded with social issues of child abuse, child neglect, drug addicts, murder, and love. With a dash of hope. John McIlveen writes about the horror these girls went through, including his sub-plot with Debbie Gillian, in a sympathetic way. The way he wrote, in a supernatural/reality prose about victims of trauma and (at times the anguish) of people trying to help is sublime.

You really can picture the scenarios.

As Hannah’s secrets of her past come to light, John McIlveen takes the reader into a fantasy realm where reality is there as long as you believe in yourself.

What I really loved about this read, McIlveen takes the narration on a plane of balance. The supernatural/paranormal topic could go anywhere the imagination could go, yet, he writes with reality being a solid foundation. His off-the-wall humor he throws in is timed perfectly I will add.

His characters are believably real. Each having their own make up and flaws and most importantly, their humanity as human beings intact (minus the antagonists). Loved this read. My favorite character in this novel - having been born and raised on the shores of Lake Erie - I enjoyed the red cardinal.

Oh, the mystery element? As you curl up with your favorite drink and have your comforter surrounding you,  I know you all will have that "hope" going through you as John McIlveen makes you turn the page. The urge you'll have in finding out the mystery, oh you'll have the urge alright.

The ending is quite satisfying knowing there is a smile with relief as madness sets in.

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Most enjoyable read folks - highly recommended.

Here's where you can get your fingers on HANNAHWHERE:
  • Amazon  ~  Kindle $4.99  ~  Hardcover $ 26.99  ~  Paperback $15.99  USD
  • Barnes & Noble  ~  NOOK $4.99  ~  Hardcover $26.99  ~  Paperback $15.99  USD
  •  IndieBound ~ Support your local book stores

John's inspiration for the novel

John McIlveen has also authored two story collections:

Welcome to the world of John McIlveen. Enter, please, but be warned… here you will find tales that blur the lines of horror, vengeance, humor, sorrow, and humanity. You will encounter broken people with dark secrets and darker desires.

Meet Justice, whose art exposes your soul.

Ride along as a man’s search for his daughter reveals that sometimes the best way to heal old scars is to make new ones.

Go on vacation with the Seth’s, who are forced to play a game that is every parent’s nightmare.

Play a Sunday game of softball with the most unusual team imaginable.

You will experience the foulest parts of humanity, as well as the funniest and sweetest. Some of these stories will make you laugh, some will anger or shock you, but all of them will affect you. You will love, hate, and sympathize with the characters, possibly at the same time.

The collection includes an introduction by New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden and an afterword by James A. Moore.

Short stories included in this collection:
Paint It Black
Make a Choice
A Mother’s Love
The Confession of a Confirmed Has Been
Simon Says
Saddled Vengeance
Finding Forever
Hell to Pay
What If …
The Bore
A Perfect Man
In Defense of …
Playing the Huddys

In Jerks and Other Tales from a Perfect Man, John M. McIlveen presents a collection of humorous genre tales that looks at men and their relationships with a clever, hilarious, and often shocking eye. Get ready to smile, blush, gasp, and quite possibly barf!

In the novelette Jerks, Kelly learns that men are indeed beasts, first hurtfully, then shockingly, and ultimately, seductively.

In Playing the Huddys (based on a true story) we encounter the dark side of a New England family during an impromptu, Saturday morning softball game.

In Signs, two redneck buddies' life-long friendship is tested when they read the signs.

In A Perfect Man, Jake, in his search for perfection, finds that taking the wrong road still can lead to perfection.

With Saddled Vengeance, you encounter a West that never was... hopefully.

Praise for JERKS …

“With one book, John McIlveen has reversed the intellectual growth I’ve acquired from every classic work of literature I’ve ever read. In fact, even everyday tasks like tying my shoes have become a challenge, thanks to my newly eroded brain. Oh, sure, JERKS is funny as hell, but it has ruined my life. Screw you, McIlveen.” – Jeff Strand, author of WOLF HUNT

“McIlveen’s writing is always dark and wicked. Now, in JERKS, he shows off his wickedly dark sense of humor, a love of human absurdity, and a keen eye for the bizarre details of life. The man has a twisted mind, which is perfect for our twisted world.” – Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author.

“There’s dark fiction. There’s dark humor. And then there’s John McIlveen, who combines the two in the mirthfully macabre JERKS. Funny as hell!” – Brian Keene, author of CLICKERS and DARK HOLLOW

Visit John McIlveen

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent ~ 2013

 They said I must die. They said that I stole the breaths from men, and now they must steal mine. I imagine, then, that we are all candle flames, greasy-bright, fluttering in the darkness and the howl of the wind, and in the stillness of the room I hear footsteps, awful coming footsteps, coming to blow me out and send my life up away from me in a grey wreath of smoke.

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by true events: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1828

Author: Hannah Kent
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company - Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Publication date: First North American Edition: September 10th 2013
Pages: 314
ISBN: 9780316243919
Jacket design: Ploy Siripant
Front jacket photograph: Jose Picayo
Back jacket photograph: Bjorn Abelin/plainpicture/Bildhuset
Jacket © 2013 Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Author photographer: Nicholas Purcell

5 Stars

Hannah Kent

Hannah Kent's first novel, Burial Rites is the epitome of an author displaying their craft into a phenomenal read.

Once started, your drawn into a prose so beautifully written, it is perceivable you will shut out your day-to-day reality and take a trip to Iceland, witnessing first hand the austere life in the early 1800's for a story of a not so perfect penal system and a love gone awry.

This is the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, a woman whose short life was directed through the gossip of others. Charged and convicted of accessory to a ruthless double murder of Natan Ketilsson and Petur Jonsson, arson, and conspiracy to murder she is placed at Kornsa, an isolated farm in northern Iceland to await her execution.

A young lady of only 34 years, her life was shortened because nobody had the decency of lending an ear. As I said, her life was directed through the gossip (to say the least) of others. Even Natan himself being in one of his mood swings treated her only as an existent. In my view, all this young lady did was fall into a 'hopeful' love with Natan despite even what the gossip of Natan was and then, at the end of this hopeful love story, be sentenced to death for his murder.

All her life Agnes had lived a life that no one ever knew. Her herself. Life was hard for women of her stature and eventually ending up with Natan was a peak in her life.

In her eyes they were going to end up a couple and to have the final days of their relationship end the way it ended was heart breakening. All she was guilty of was being there just as Sigga and the baby. And if it were true of stabbing Natan because Natan himself wanted it because of his situation - she was only guilty of being humane. ? (Don't want to start nothing here.) If that was the way it went down.

After being found guilty and sentenced to death and a short spin in prison she arrives at Kornsa on horseback, irons screwed on and strapped to the saddle like a corpse being taken to the burial ground. Her appearance is of filth and obvious weary and looked as if she was dragged there then put on horseback at the last moment only for humane appearance sakes all around.

The family who inhabit the farm at Kornsa relinquish their peaceful way of life due to their father, Jon Jonsson, being the District Officer of Vatnsdalur having responsibilities to His Majesty the King.  His wife Margret and their two daughters, Steina and Lauga are besides themselves to the prospect of housing a murderess. Steina, just turning 21 and Lauga a year younger get their guard up.

Agnes requests Assistant Reverend Thorvardur Jonsson (Toti) as her priest. Toti would visit Agnes on repeated occasions and they would talk as instructed by District Commissioner Bjorn Blondal. Margret, Seina, Lauga and even Jon heard the other side of the story.

How could they not? Agnes living there for months, having Toti and her conversations overheard by all being cramped together in a badstofa. Sure, the other side of the story will come out after spending so many months there together. Margret and her daughters were starting to hear Agnes for the first time, as if listening to another straight-forward person you'd meet new some place.

Even after their own first impressions with Agnes being stoic and reticent at the beginning and Jon with his 'Thank you' to Agnes for his meal that one night, they all came around that Agnes was not a monster but a voice unheard.

During her stay with this family they had learned of Agnes' side of the murders which should have been heard in the court system but did not for reasons unknown to me.

Hannah Kent told us a story of how a young woman maintained her decency as a human being knowing you are only staying there under that roof until your death and Hannah portrayed her as a 'wouldn't-mind-having-you-as-a-neighbor' kind of lady.

Even though Agnes had to help with the chores and the such, Agnes stepped up to the plate, as in, I am a human being just as you are. She helped with relaying and implementing learned information she had picked up here and there and remembered through life i.e., helping out the blood hacking Margret, Roslins baby, Seinas endless questions. Even Jon. That was cool.

Agnes was not a bad seed but a seed that never had the chance to flower.

Time moves and frequent after frequent after... Toti's visits stop. And her birthday comes and goes. Where was Toti? Working on appeals? Gave up on her? You could probably imagine how her time moved.

To only suddenly come alive again with the unexpected arrival of Toti carrying barren news her life will end in six days.

Hannah Kent's writing here takes the reader into a sublime example of  her craft, describing how Agnes sounded and looked like finally knowing her date. Beautifully written I felt. Exactly as I pictured a doomed person would be.

That night with the other near-death woman, Margret, the one and the same that voiced herself to keep that bitch away from knives and her kitchen when they first met and yes, the one that ceded to Agnes' proffered help in time of a dire need - the story unfolded. Margret and her family saw the other side - her side.

As Margret pulled out a more suitable ensemble to wear to one's death then what she was currently wearing including the brooch (I was loving Lauga and her demeanor) I believe Margret and the rest of the family knew Agnes was wronged.

As the valley heard the first axe fall - Fridrik Sigurdsson, the son of the farmer at Katadalur, the execution was deemed.

Sigga, the third person who was there that fateful evening was sentenced to prison.

Agnes, I believe, died scared but with a dignity knowing her side was told.

The way Hannah Kent wrote had me engrossed as I read this novel. The novel moves in an alternating POV.  Third person narrating and intermittently, Agnes telling her thoughts and feelings. For me it was a great spin on story-telling. Loved this twist Hannah Kent gave to the reader. Great way to tell a bit of history.  Hannah Kent's adeptness in writing is compared to an artist painting a masterpiece.

I personally can not give enough accolades to this astonishing debut. Thank you Ms. Kent!

Burial Rites is compelling, moving, and beautifully written. You are right along with Agnes on every page. Her prose brings you to northern Iceland and you actually feel the winter coming and the tension of death looming. This is beautifully written.

Burial Rites is highly recommended.

Burial Rites

Hannah Kent Discusses Burial Rites

Here's where you can get your fingers on Burial Rites:
  • Amazon ~ Kindle $9.99 ~ Hardcover $17.30 ~ Paperback $11.35 USD
  • Barnes & Noble ~ NOOK $9.99 ~ Hardcover $17.47 ~ Paperback $11.59 USD
  • IndieBound ~ Support your local book stores

About the author

Hannah Kent is a Melbourne-based writer, born in Adelaide in 1985. Burial Rites, has been translated into over twenty languages and was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) and the Guardian First Book Award.

It won the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, the Indie Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year and the Victorian Premier's People's Choice Award, and has most recently been longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Hannah is also the co-founder and publishing director of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings.  Her second novel is out this fall.

From Hannah Kent:
Some exciting news, friends. I have a new book coming out in October 2016 (Australia). Dates for UK and US to follow.

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