Friday, May 15, 2015

The Ritual

Adam Nevill is a writer of supernatural horror. He used to write erotic novels, which I found fascinating. He has also won a couple of awards for his horror. I've only read one of his, but I plan to read more in the future. So here we go with my review of: The Ritual 


Paperback copy
When four old University friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect with one another. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise. With limited experience between them, a shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives. Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, Luke figures things couldn't possibly get any worse. But then they stumble across an old habitation. Ancient artifacts decorate the walls and there are bones scattered upon the dry floors. The residue of old rites and pagan sacrifice for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. As the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn't come easy among these ancient trees . . .


This book doesn't waste anytime presenting the plot. Four friends on a holiday in the Scandinavian woods get lost. It doesn't help that two are overweight and with hurting feet. One is angry. The other is Hutch. I have to admit, for some reason, I thought Hutch was the main character. Maybe because he had an early pov and seemed the most level-headed of the four, but to my surprise, and no, apparently I didn't read the spine, Luke told most of the story.

Luke is an angry man. He doesn't like his life. He hates that his friends constantly judge him, and he happens to be the butt of a lot of Dom's jokes. I connected with Luke right away. Hutch was a little too easy going for my taste. But yeah, Luke quickly gets angry with his other friends. Hutch, for getting them lost. Dom, for being a bully. Phil, for just being Phil. They are trapped and lost and not enjoying each other's company anymore. And there seems to be something wrong with those woods. Many things wrong.They find a building with odd hangings and a goat-like mounting of a pagan God. Their dreams are invaded and slowly, little by little, they all start to lose their shit.

I adored how the story mounts the tension in the forest, parallel with the one the four friends are experiencing. Loads of  frustrations. The first half is all about the four friends getting on each other's nerves as food starts to deplete and nightmares start to become realities. It was my favorite half of the story.

However, the second half really made me delve in and get dirty and grimy and sick with Luck. That open head wound was starting to hurt me too after a while. His stench, his hunger, his every ache, was my ache and I so wanted him to survive all the madness. The scary little people. Old woman. And trio of crazies. His mind started to slip and his dreams became more vivid. Delusions. The whole book was a nightmare. The climax was fun. A joy ride. Luke was sure he wouldn't make it. I was sure he wouldn't make it. The creature of the forest was sure he would not make it. Did Luke make it? Read and find out.

This one is a fun story. And maybe not all the characters got developed as much as I would have liked, but the main character did, and that's really what matters. It's an awesome horror. In the woods. All about survival and making due with what you have. Also, the landscape was quite vividly described. The constricting atmosphere, the ongoing rain. Short, spunky sentences. Just an overall fun horror story. If you enjoy the genre and stories of survival of the mind and body, give this one a try!