The Ritual by Adam Nevill

(9.0/10) Another excellent spine-chiller from one of our best horror writers.

Book of the Year 2011 (see all)

Reviewing hundreds of books can leave one a little jaded with the excitement that precedes the starting of a new novel less often experienced. So when a book arrives that rekindles those feelings it is something to cherish. The Ritual had this effect on me for one reason - Apartment 16. Adam Nevill's horror debut was one of my favourite books of 2010 and the very reason that I started reading his latest book the moment it dropped through my letterbox.

Why did I enjoy Apartment 16 so much? Well, for a start, not since reading Stephen King's It did a book managed to instill such a feeling of fear and disquiet in me. For more reasons please read the full review here.

In The Ritual, four old university friends set out into the Scandinavian wilderness, to escape the problems of their lives and reconnect. But as is so often the case, the common ground has simply been lost, and so tensions begin to rise. When an ill-judged shortcut leaves them lost, hungry and surrounded by forest untouched for millenia, they discover that their nightmare has only just begun...

I think it is fair to say that a bunch of friends, lost in a forest and being stalked by something unwordly has been covered before but then again what hasn't. Most books are variations on themes but the ones that you remember, and the ones that are the most succesful, are those that make the journey the most enjoyable. And this is exactly what Nevill does - he is a really good author, of that there can be no doubt and although his genre is horror he does not have to rely on gore to chill his readers, instead he focusses on the human mind and how the thought of something terrible happening is often almost as bad as the experience itself.

The short, concise chapters make for a fast-paced narrative and the pages simply fly by. I read this book in three days, which is very quick for me, and possibly the best guide as to how good a book/author is. The stand out-moments are the time the foursome spent being hunted in the forest and the bizarre death metal band (Blood Frenzy) that make an extremely unexpected - but spotlight-stealing - appearance in the story. It has been over a week now since I finished this book and it has really stayed with me and I find myself thinking about it on numerous occasions, and this is another very good sign.

The are only two negatives that I can think of mentioning. The first is that it took me quite a while to get into it, probably more than one hundred pages. The characters just didn't seem to develop fully until almost a quarter of a way through, which I think was the reason for this. Secondly, I didn't enjoy The Ritual as much as I enjoyed Apartment 16. But then again I haven't enjoyed many books as much as I did Apartment 16 and it feels a little churlish to say so. I guess it's a bit like saying I didn't enjoy The Stand as much as I enjoyed It, both are fine books, it's just that one appealed more to my tastes.

And I think that this will be the case here. If you asked one-hundred individuals to read both on Nelvill's last two books I would imagine that it would be a fifty fifty split as to which one they enjoyed most. They are quite different with only a few similarities.

In summary all I can say is that is a book that I would definitely recommend as Adam Nevill is an author that is always worth reading. I would be interested in other people's opinions too, if you enjoyed The Ritual more than Apartment 16, or vice-versa, then let me know by posting a mini-review below.   

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5 positive reader review(s) for The Ritual

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The Ritual reader reviews

from Canada

The Ritual was an amazing book to read, I sometimes struggle getting into a story but from the first page I read the first 20 chapters in the blink of an eye. In my opinion it never got too slow and the fast pace was refreshing compared to the stories I had been reading before. Its especially fun to read when spending a week camping in the mountains... I can't look at a tree the same way again. Now Apartment 16 is next on my bucket list.

from Pontypridd, South Wales

This book is one of the best I have ever read! It scared me to the point that, after reading it at night, I had to watch a relaxing TV program before going to sleep!

from North Yorkshire

This book takes the very heart of the human mind, strips it to the flesh then gives it hope. That thing that is so evasive in this day and age... strip your life of it's grandeur and enjoy the ride.

from Horsham West Sussex

The Ritual...e njoyed this book so much, couldn't put it down... felt the despair... thirst and fear when the 4 men got lost... A great read.... Apartment 16... brilliant read... very spooky but between the two it would be The Ritual I enjoyed most.

from Wiltshire, UK

I absolutely loved both Apartment 16 and The Ritual. I couldn't pick a favourite as they were both so different. All I know is I read The Ritual in a day and I could feel the mindless fear of the group as if I were there from the first chapter. It had a feel of The Blair Witch Project in the first half, which I really liked... that pure terror of knowing you are that close to evil. The second half was total brilliance... oh, to walk a day inside Mr Neville's dark mind! I'm just glad the ending was as it was or I might have had to kill myself!! I am a fan of the great Mr King also, but I actually think this is darker than King and was perfect at getting to grips with the basics of human nature... as ugly as it is.

from Lichfield, Staffs

Amazing read, loved it as much as Apartment 16, hard to pick between them. I did find myself getting into this one from the very beginning which I think was down to the short chapters making it easy to "just read one more"!!

9.9/10 from 7 reviews

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