Hello, lovely reader!
I am doing a themed week this week, I’ll be reviewing The Ritual, the novel, today then the movie adaptation on Thursday!
But first, please be patient as I plug my Patreon.
You: Not this again. Me: I just gotta. My Patreon is a way for you to directly support me as I grow from writing only short fiction, to writing novellas and novels. It also gives you access to exclusive content like behind the scene looks at what inspired my fiction, recordings of me reading my fiction for you, snippets of current WIPs, and more! pretty much, by supporting me on Patreon, you get a more personal experience with me, PLM!
Now onto the review!
Born in England, Nevill has written such novels as Banquet for the Damned, Apartment 16, The Ritual, Last Days, House of Small Shadows, No One Gets Out Alive, Lost Girl, and Under a Watchful Eye.
He has been the recipient of the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection (Some Will Not Sleep: Selected Horrors) and The August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel (won three separate times for The Ritual, Last Days, and No One Gets Out Alive). The Ritual and Last Days were also awarded Best in Category: Horror, by R.U.S.A.
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 artefacts 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– The Ritual Amazon product description
Published in 2011, The Ritual is a British horror novel by Nevill. This was Nevill’s third novel and won the 2012 August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel. The novel follows the ill-fated camping trip of four friends, I feel like the Amazon description covers the important points pretty well, so let’s skip right to the review!
This book was an odd one for me, not in a bad way though. The first half of the book starts off a wilderness horror, the four friends fight against the elements, then something that seems to be hunting them in the woods. Then the second half becomes cosmic horror.
The second half almost seemed to belong to a different book, don’t get the wrong impression though, I still really enjoyed this novel. Nevill has a deft hand at creating a hostile setting that feels almost alive and very suspenseful. The tension starts out strong, with the group of friends already struggling due to injury. Then they decide to take a shortcut. The four friends are all unique and well-rounded, I felt sympathy for each of them despite their flaws, egos, and mistakes. While they may not be loveable, they were likeable.
After that, the forest swallows them. Their fear, despair, and horror amps up quickly and stays that way as they desperately try to survive. Nevill keeps the plot fast-paced, gripping you tight, until the very end.
The revelation at the end was a big surprise to me, highlighting the darkness of human nature, the old magic that lives in ancient forests, and what a person is capable of when they want to survive.
I really think Nevill is an expert at spinning dark, gritty tales of survival that are heavy with atmosphere and dread. The ending also was *chef’s kiss*. I go into more after the spoiler line, but avoid that section if you don’t want the experience spoiled!
HEAR YE HEAR YE. THIS IS YOUR WARNING. GO NO FURTHER IF YE WISH TO AVOID SPOILERS.
I mentioned above about how the ending felt like it belonged to a different book altogether (not a bad thing, just a surprise). This is because the first half feels like a tale about a monster in the woods, I even thought it might be a wendigo.
Then the main character gets captured by a metal rock band that wants to summon the creature that has been hunting him the whole books, through the forest. The monster is referred to as a “mother” and a “Black Goat”, so — if I am not horribly wrong — this is Shub-Niggurath herself! I also really loved the epic fight/escape scene at the end. Dearest Shub is one of my favourite Lovecraftian beings, so I was pleasantly surprised at the reveal near the end of the book.
All in all, a very fun and enjoyable rollercoaster of a tale!