Book Review: THE RITUAL

THE RITUAL  by Adam Nevill
From the Goodreads summary:
"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…
Paperback418 pages
Published May 28th 2011 by Pan Publishing (first published May 6th 2011)
MY REVIEW  (4 out of 5 stars)  horror, suspense, survival
     THE RITUAL is a very compelling and suspenseful horror tale, as well as a story of survival.

     An ancient creature of legend tracks and dispatches hikers in a remote forest near the borders of Norway.  Author Adam Nevill is great at description, as the forest becomes a living character as well, always threatening and slowing down the lost hikers, four friends from England, reunited after fifteen years. The four friends are fully realized, and their differences brought up front as they have to work together to escape. As we learn more about them, questions will be raised in the readers' mind regarding how people change over time, what motivates them, and what defines success and a comfortable life.

     In their attempt to find a working trail that will lead them out of the woods, they uncover the remnants of an ancient pagan civilization with weird cabins, temples, sacrificial altars and stone monuments. They sense the presence of an unknown threat, a huge animal entity only realized in brief glimpses of rapid movement or foul smells. It's a cunning and patient predator, waiting for the right moment to isolate a member of the group and then take horrific action. 

     The book is divided into two sections. In the first half of the 
book,suspense and tension build page after page as the party of four becomes reduced in grisly fashion. It's extremely compelling reading, and is easily capable of riveting the reader to the page for chapter after chapter. The end of section one was a bit surprising. It's extremely compelling reading, and is easily capable of riveting the reader to the page for chapter after chapter. The end of section one was a bit surprising. (To say more would spoil it.)

     The mysterious bestial stalker is still a threat in the second section of THE RITUAL, but takes a background role until the last part of the novel. A new threat arises, one that is more tangible in nature but just as deadly. The pace of the novel slows down as details on the new conflict reveal themselves. It's just as horrific and menacing, but much less of a page-turner than the first section of the novel.

     Things shift into high gear in the last several chapters and for a change, the final outcome is not as dark as anticipated. I also found parts of this section to drag, but still recommend this book. 


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