Title: The Ritual
Author: Adam Nevill
Page Count: 448 pages
Rating: 5 / ✨✨✨✨✨
Four old university friends reunite for a hiking trip in the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle. No longer young men, they have little left in common and tensions rise as they struggle to connect. Frustrated and tired they take a shortcut that turns their hike into a nightmare that could cost them their lives.
Lost, hungry and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, they stumble across an isolated old house. Inside, they find the macabre remains of old rites and pagan sacrifices; ancient artefacts and unidentifiable bones. A place of dark ritual and home to a bestial presence that is still present in the ancient forest, and now they’re the prey.
As the four friends struggle toward salvation they discover that death doesn’t come easy among these ancient trees…
“How little do we know of anyone, let alone ourselves?”
A few months ago, my roommate and I stumbled upon The Ritual on Netflix. We love horror movies, so we gave it a watch – and while it was creepy and enjoyable, it was also really weird and I wasn’t sure I understood it at all afterward. I still decided it was a good experience though, and when I found out later that it was based off of a book, I knew I wanted to read it.
While on vacation to England and Ireland in September, I went on a bit of a book buying spree. Well, “a bit” is an understatement – I set aside an entire souvenir budget for books, and had a whole second suitcase meant for lugging them home with me. Even with this seemingly flawless plan, I underestimated the amount I’d buy — did you know that books are INCREDIBLY cheap in the UK as opposed to in the US? A new book here will run you between $16 – 30, plus tax! After conversion while in Waterstones (which is an amazing, magical place and I visited 4 of them and never wanted to leave, oh my GOSH!), I realized that a book costing me $20 in the US was costing me $10 in the UK!! Suffice it to say, I knew I needed to take advantage of it – so I ended up coming home with two suitcases filled with over 35 books, oops!
One of the 35 books was The Ritual – which I spotted in a mall as the only one on the shelf, immediately recognized from the movie I’d liked-but-been-confused-by a few months prior, and had to have. And I’m so glad I did! This book is a wild ride. I read it right around Halloween for maximum spookiness, and gosh, did it deliver!
The story follows four friends on holiday as they hike through a pretty remote area of the Scandinavian wilderness. After an injury to one of the friends occurs, they decide to take a shortcut through a bit of virgin forest undisturbed by civilians. Things quickly go downhill from there as the quartet becomes lost, stress levels run high, and they find evidence that they may not be so alone in the dense trees after all.
As a person, I’m both simultaneously drawn to and repelled by nature. I’ve been a bookworm for my entire life, so my preference is to read really involved, detailed stories of other people’s adventures – from the comfort of my home, with a cup of coffee or tea, please & thanks!
I’ve never been camping, and the only time I’ve gone hiking was accidentally – I took a wrong turn and was too stubborn to go back, so I ended up on a very long trail that I was not prepared for. Luckily for me, that situation turned out WAY better than the shortcut the guys in this story take does, and the realization of how easy it is to become lost in the forest that I gained from reading this has freaked me out in a way most traditional horror never can!
After finishing the book, I read a few other reviews that mentioned that this feels like two books in one – and while I somewhat agree with that, I don’t feel that this detracted from my enjoyment of it at all. The first half of the book focuses heavily on the four friends, their relationships, and the terror and desperation they feel. In the second half, we find ourselves introduced to a new direction, and a few new characters – while also learning more about the cause of terror from part one. I found myself turning pages just as quickly throughout the entire story, and I loved that the story just kept picking up pace as we went along. The tension and situations kept escalating, and I had no idea what to expect – I loved it!
In addition to having fun with the story, I thoroughly enjoyed Adam Nevill’s writing as well. I hadn’t read anything by him before, but will absolutely be grabbing some of his other works – I’ve already picked up a few of his horror collections, and plan to grab a few more of his standalones as well!