Four old friends decide to reunite for a hiking trip together; after a failed shortcut, the men find themselves in the middle of a nightmare as they struggle, lost in the wilderness. Already disconnected, the men realize they have outgrown each other and tensions rise. They stumble across an isolated old house. Here, they find bones and other items for a ritual sacrifice. Something is in the forest and this is where the real nightmare begins….
The Ritual, by Adam Nevill, is an unconventional, supernatural horror novel that follows a group of friends as they face the elements (both supernatural and natural) in the Scandinavian wilderness. This one was incredibly mixed for me.
Here’s the lowdown.
To start, the plot was pretty fantastic. I give kudos to Nevill for coming up with something so chilling. The idea of being lost in the woods, fighting the elements and human nature, and not being able to count on those around you is something that, for sure, gives me the creeps. Books like this justify the exact reasons that I do not participate in any nature related activities. No camping for this girl, thank you!
As for the format of the book, this was one of the most separated I have ever read. It was broken up into two sections and then those sections felt like they were broken up even more. This became the key feature in the novel; all the characters seemed to come second to this.
The beginning of the book read like two separate stories. This is something that I actually really enjoyed. There was the tense interaction between the friends as they become lost in the woods and they begin their struggle to survive. This portion was laced with tension. Although it read slow, (I’d say the first 100 pages are a little monotonous), I loved the idea of man vs. nature and how friends can turn on each other in stressful situations- it was very Lord of the Flies. That is some scary stuff. Then, Nevill adds in the supernatural element. Something is in the woods; something is hunting them. Something is plucking each person off, one by one. To me, the beginning section read like The Blair Witch Project and that was enough to send shivers down my spine. It was extremely ominous.
Then, in the middle (about 250ish pages in) the novel switches AGAIN. Like, I mean completely switches gears; it felt like a completely different story. I’m not sure if I loved this, or if I hated it, but it was absolutely unexpected. The protagonist finds himself smack dab in the middle of the pagan rituals, he struggles to survive and he tries to find reprieve (through escape or death).
This novel has some seriously creepy moments (hello, skinned animals in the woods!) and I did find myself wanting to read more, but the story seemed so disjointed, that I couldn’t get as gripped as I wanted to be.
If you are a fan of the supernatural thriller or supernatural horror genre and you want a completely unconventional read, then I would give this one a try. Otherwise, don’t bother.