Saturday, 10 September 2016

2016 Booklist #25: Burial Rites

By Hannah Kent.  This was reminiscent of my recent read, Hild, as it's fiction based on true events,  in this case the execution of the last woman in Iceland (Agnes Magnusdottir). It's very well written, and absorbing tale of life in Iceland - I am pretty sure this is the first book in Iceland that I've read! (though written by an Australian). The book weaves 'present day' (which is the incarceration of Agnes with a farming family before the execution), and the events leading up to the murder that she has been charged with.  It seems evident that Kent has meticulously researched the history of the period and the events them selves, I do wonder how much inference she has made about 'what really happened', though I also wonder how important that is (or why I feel it is important to me). Definitely recommended!

2016 Book List #23 and 24: The Drowning Girl and The Red Tree

By Caitlin Kiernan.  It think it was probably a shame that I read these back to back, and that I read The Drowning Girl first, because they have very similar themes/ characters, unreliable narration and even literary references (esp The Mick Turtle's Song from Alice in Wonderland), and I think that 'The Red Tree' was better (but lost impact having read Drowning Girl immediately beforehand).  The main difference I would say between them is that the Drowning Girl is more about a haunting - unsettling but not super scary, whereas The Red Tree is more definitely horror, with an evil presence that brings genuine dread.  I almost felt inclined to reread The Red Tree again, to try and piece together the story better, but ultimately did not, as that would have technically been my third Caitlin Kiernan in a row... (I did go back to recheck a few things in the preface/intro)

There's no doubt that they're both very well written,  but I do feel a bit wary reading more Kiernan, as I don't know whether the similarities were a reflection of her overall writing, or I just lucked out by picking very similar books to read. At some point,  I want to revisit the Writer and the Critic Podcast, where they review the Drowning Girl to see what they say, in part because it was Kirstyn who brought Kiernan to my attention in the first place.