The Ritual: Book Review

Author: Adam Nevill
Published in 2011
8/10

I came across this book by chance in a Barnes & Noble one day, and the cover alone convinced me to buy it, a decision I definitely don’t regret. “The Ritual” is a wild, harrowing ride, well-written and full of creepy-as-hell imagery. From the first sentence, I was hooked, and couldn’t stop reading until I had reached the pulse-pounding ending.

“The Ritual” follows four college friends who reunite for a camping trip in Sweden. Tensions rise quickly between the four, as personalities clash and they loose their path. You guessed it – they get lost in the cold, unforgiving woods, and soon find themselves stalked by an unseen creature. Hunted and starving, the group struggles to survive as the forces of nature close around them.

There are many aspects of horror at work in this book, which makes it hard to classify. The main villain is an unstoppable Norse god, and a backwoods vibe is introduced by characters closer to the end of the novel. One could almost split the book in two (already done by the author in the formatting), one being a survival horror with a monster as the main threat and the other a Texas Chainsaw-esque occult thriller. This mix of genres makes the book engaging and original. The switch is jarring at first, but Nevill smooths it over well, and keeps the same elements at play throughout.

Nevill’s subtle but shocking way of writing the creature’s appearances is what makes the book so terrifying. He gives the reader little – a quick glimpse of a shape, an unnatural sound in the distance – and this ambiguity keeps the creature frightening until the last page. I found myself jumpy and paranoid after reading certain scenes, though I was far from the woods. Nevill’s prose doesn’t overplay the horror of the story, which makes it all the more frightening. It’s hard to find a truly well-written genre work, but “The Ritual” certainly is one.

Without giving away too much of the story, I can certainly say this novel is worth a read. In today’s industry, saturated with vampire and zombie stories, it’s a breath of fresh air. The story moves fast and is tense, at times terrifying. I look forward to Nevill’s next work.

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One Response to “The Ritual: Book Review”

  1. As you say, something far less derivative and far removed from the saturation of blood-suckers, lycanthropes and the undead currently littering the page and screen. Will check this book out. Great review. Regards, Paul

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