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The Ritual Paperback – February 14, 2012
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“A mind-twisting journey into the dark backwoods of terror. Deeply disturbing and absolutely riveting.” ―Jonathan Maberry
“A book which preys on our most basic, instinctive fears, then amplifies them ten-fold. A desperate, intense descent into the depths of somewhere unimaginably ancient and unspeakably evil.” ―David Moody
“'And on the second day things did not get better.' This suitably foreboding opening sentence sets the stage for a dark and mesmerizing horror debut that riffs on Algernon Blackwood's classic story 'The Wendigo.' Hutch, Luke, Dom, and Phil set off on a camping trip in the forests of Sweden, only to find the woods hostile to their explorations. Tensions arise when it becomes clear that two of the party aren't physically up to the challenges of navigating the rough terrain, and fears set in with the discovery of an eviscerated 'thing' hanging higher up in a tree then any animal would place it. Nevill makes the natural world deeply menacing, using the power of suggestion rather than explicit images to create a growing claustrophobic feeling as the difficult journey to return to some semblance of civilization embeds the quartet only further in the grasp of primal evil.” ―Publishers Weekly – Starred Review
“A spine-tingling tale of one man's survival in a truly horrific realm.” ―Suspense Magazine
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Top Customer Reviews
They are not too far into their adventure when they come across a strange site. Someone, a hunter, has hung a dead animal body in the trees. Could it be some sort of gag or warning. The foursome don't know and they don't stick around to find out.
Unfortunately walking around the woods without a GPS unit and just a map is for fools or good characters in a horror story.
In the middle of a major storm, and soaked from head to tail, they run into an old locked cabin that offers shelter from the storm. But after breaking in they discover this is one weird cabin. All over the walls are animal skulls and crosses. When they go upstairs they find some sort of stuffed animal and bones. The bones appear to be animal but may in fact be human. So the next morning they are off again to find their way out of the forest.
One by one the friends disappear until we are down to the last friend who we experience everything that happens to him through his eyes.
A very well developed sense of fear and trepidation makes this a book that you may read all in one night, and into the next morning.
I thought I had parts of it figured out as I went along but the author is always able to put a new twist on the story.
The problem I have with this book is with that subplot in the second half. I say subplot, but it actually takes up most of the second half and is basically a collection of dreary “satanic panic” cliches. Worse, it destroys the book’s atmosphere and doesn’t add anything to the narrative.
Essentially, The Ritual seems to be two different books stuck together. One of those books is quite good, but the other one appears to have been written by Tipper Gore during a bout of particularly inane and incoherent hysteria.
Four friends set off for a weekend in the Swedish wilderness, but an all-advised shortcut takes them deep into primeval forest. Worse, they are not alone in the woods...
So frustrating. The beginning of The Ritual is quite good. The friends are largely inexperienced hikers, and the discomfort of the weather and their fraying nerves - and the growing conviction that they are being watched - is wonderfully creepy, culminating when they stumble across a deserted cabin.
Alas, it's all downhill from there. Once the monster is revealed, the book definitely loses some of its spark, but where it really falls apart is the cliched second half - radically different in tone, pace, and setting than the first.
The second part throws credibility out the window to engage in some genre cliches, along with ubiquitous (non-scary; is it ever scary?) violence.
I suppose the fault is mine in some ways. I'm looking to recapture the feeling of chill I used to get from top notch Victorian ghost stories and writers like Robert Aickman. Horror, as a genre, doesn't do a lot of that, preferring I think something more akin to horror movies as a genre - and it leaves me cold.
The Ritual is certainly not the worst horror novel I've read by a long shot, but every single thing in it was done better, a hundred years ago by William Hope Hodgson, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen et al.
The Ritual really is two stories in one book. The first half is much scarier than the second half but I was so engrossed that I had to finish it. Too many books are full of human psychopaths and authors seem to delight in coming up with more and more depraved actions for their killers. This book was much more refreshing as a good old fashioned monster story combined with wilderness survival. Very satisfying.
Good things about this novel: a potentially interesting premise centered on Norse mythology, old gods, a demon in the woods.
Bad things about this novel: Unfortunately, Nevill's writing here is lazy and packed with clichés, not to mention really, really awkward styling (one example: "The dim light dimmed."). The thing that most distracted me as a reader was Nevill's obsession with fatness as a fundamental character flaw. We don't really know who Phil and Dom ARE; they're fat, dammit, and Nevill isn't going to let us forget it for a moment. "The two fat men" stumble down the hill, and "the two fat men" eat all the energy bars, because of course they do, wah-wahhh, they're FAT. Later on, the satanic female villain is described as fat and ugly, fat and smelly, fat and repulsive, almost every time she appears on the page. I just couldn't get past this. I tried.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well, what to say here? The first half of this novel is so gripping, so packed with dread and the simple terror of being lost in the woods with something unseen slowly making its... Read morePublished 4 days ago by cryptkeeper
I cannot remember the last time a book has made me so angry.
The beginning was good. Good writing, although Nevill has a habit of producing a good image and then... Read more
How does Nevill keep the hits coming? He took a slightly different approach with this story, the first half is more of a psychological thriller set in the creepiest forest... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jennifer L.
My Horror Book of the Year 2016:
I’d just finished reading the book “The Ritual” by Adam Nevill. Read more
The Ritual was definitely a creepy story. Four best friends on a camping/hiking trip lose their way and one by one they are terrorized and tortured. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Crystal Winters
I love the backwoods horror genre, both in book and film format, and this gem definitely fits the bill, with a dash of Satanic "worshipery" thrown in, utilized by three... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Tom Place, Jr.
Excellent character development and tension, slightly spoiled by the author's belief that goat knees 'bend backwards.'Published 1 month ago by Tom in Phoenix
Fantastic read. You won't be disappointed . I'm an avid reader and this is one of the best books I have read in a while. I can't wait to read his next novel. I'm a new fan.Published 2 months ago by Kim West
My wife and I have spoken about visiting Scandinavia some day to see the aurora borealis. Now that I have read this book by Adam Nevill I am probably NEVER visiting Scandinavia,... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Thomas Joyce