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The Ritual by Adam Nevill
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The Ritual (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Adam Nevill

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2352049,137 (3.69)11
Member:seldombites
Title:The Ritual
Authors:Adam Nevill
Info:St. Martin's Griffin (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Bookcrossed, Released in 2013, Read in 2013
Rating:****
Tags:forest, horror, occult, survival, sweden, woods, fiction, paperback, @bx, @controlled, @2013

Work details

The Ritual by Adam Nevill (2011)

  1. 00
    Stallo by Stefan Spjut (Amsa1959)
    Amsa1959: Swedish folklore horror.
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English (19)  German (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
The first half was tense and creepy and promising. The second half completely undermined all that and pulled my rating from 3 stars to 1. The wilderness and isolation that gave the story so much atmosphere was mangled by a ridiculous plot device that just wasted pages. If you are interested in stories about pagan mythology in desolate areas, choose something else. ( )
  grammarchick | May 31, 2016 |
Oh, good God! You might as well start this book early on a day you have nothing else to do. Because you can't put it down, & you dare not sleep on it.

I wanted a scary book. I got a terrifying book. I may have bit off more than I normally can chew. But I was mesmerized by Chapter One; there was no going back.

5 stars may be a little high in the grand scheme of all literature. But in the context of what I wanted and expected from a horror novel, this novel is deserving.

Adam Nevill tells a tale of 4 buddies from college meeting up at a wedding 15 years later, & deciding to go for a hike in Sweden together. Dom & Phil have gone soft round the middle, with all the trappings of respectability as they enter middle age. Hutch is just getting around to marriage, but he's made some compromises between the fire of his youth & the embers of his late 30's. But Luke... Luke has made a go of it. He has tried to live on his terms - no wife, no kids, no corporate job, no responsibilities other than to himself. And as the old friends trudge through virgin forest in Sweden he finds that this sets him apart from the people he yearns to be close to.

But all that comes later.
After Hutch opts for a shortcut through untouched forest.
After they come across an unrecognizable creature flayed & hung from a tree.
After Dom's knee gives out over the rough terrain, & Phil's asthma kicks in.
After they spend a night in an abandoned house, with animal skulls mounted on the walls, & they all wake up to find each other terrorized by nightmares.

Pushed to the brink by exhaustion, hunger, thirst, pain, & fear, the men are no match for what is stalking them in the woods, when it starts to pick them off. And Nevill makes it clear early on that this is no normal predator. It's not exhaustion or dehydration driving hallucinations, nor eating dangerous plants, that is messing with their perception. Something unknown to their modern tame world still lives here, & it is on their trail.

With extraordinary skill, Nevill puts the reader in that haunted forest. He brings the smells, the damp, the exhaustion, the feeling of being insignificantly small to the reader's warm safe bed. No matter how sunny it is when you begin this read, you'll soon be engulfed in the darkness at the heart of this story.

Nevill uses the characters & the situation to comment on man & society, & that is what elevates this beyond a genre novel. By telling the story through Luke's point of view, the reader gets a fuller taste of things. Luke is least assimilated into his society, & by its standards is a failure. Luke is most like the forest they find themselves in: unnoticed by most; wild, existing just to survive in his own way; choking with brambles & bracken that keep most from advancing further in; and hiding a ferocity that doesn't belong in the world we know. Yet Luke does yearn to be better united with his society, better connected to these people he still considers friends, to move forward in his life, even if it's not as conventional as most people's lives. His old ways aren't working, & all around him on this journey, he sees evidence of people who clung to old ways & died nameless & unknown to the rest of the history. This lesson is as inescapable as the beast that chases him to the bitter end of this story.

It will scare the pants off you, but it will be worth it. Pick this up if you dare. ( )
  LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
I recently finished reading the ritual and was thoroughly emotionally exhausted by the time I got to the last few pages ! Adam Nevill is a brilliant storyteller and thankfully he doesn't use any gratuitous gore to get his point across, the brilliant thing about this story is that it is set in the mundane world of the ordinary, a group of mates on a walking holiday and then the strangeness starts.
I could not have second-guessed this story even though I thought I had, the surprises and the shocks just kept coming!
I intend to read all of his other works, highly recommended !! ( )
  Jeff-Rees-Jones | Feb 5, 2016 |
The first half was tense and creepy and promising. The second half completely undermined all that and pulled my rating from 3 stars to 1. The wilderness and isolation that gave the story so much atmosphere was mangled by a ridiculous plot device that just wasted pages. If you are interested in stories about pagan mythology in desolate areas, choose something else. ( )
  grammarchick | Jan 5, 2016 |
The first half was tense and creepy and promising. The second half completely undermined all that and pulled my rating from 3 stars to 1. The wilderness and isolation that gave the story so much atmosphere was mangled by a ridiculous plot device that just wasted pages. If you are interested in stories about pagan mythology in desolate areas, choose something else. ( )
  grammarchick | Jan 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
The Gods are here, if they are anywhere at all in the world.  Algernon Blackwood, from the Willows
Dedication
For Anne and our cub, for making me and my life less beastly.
First words
And on the second day things did not get better. (Prologue)
At midday, Hutch stopped walking and turned to look back at the others; three colorful figures appearing insignificant upon the misty vastness of the rocky landscape they meandered across. (Chapter One)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0230754929, Paperback)

And on the third day things did not get better. The rain fell hard and cold, the white sun never broke through the low grey cloud, and they were lost. But it was the dead thing they found hanging from a tree that changed the trip beyond recognition. 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 fitness and 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. And as the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn't come easy among these ancient trees...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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 . . "--… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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