Review: The Ritual by Adam Nevill

The RitualThe Ritual by Adam Nevill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Luke, Dom, Phil and Hutch have been friends since college. Over the years, however, they have drifted apart a bit; particularly Luke, who is the only one among them still single and without a stable career.

The men decide to travel from their homes in the UK, to the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle for a backpacking adventure. A reunion of sorts.

Unfortunately, the camaraderie of the group isn’t very strong. Dom and Phil seem condescending to Luke. Treating him like a child, or worse.

Hutch is the happy one. The bond that seems to tie them all together. His positive energy is half the reason they decided to take this trip in the first place.

Adding additional stress for the group is the fact that Dom and Phil are ill-prepared for this type of holiday. As in, they’re out of shape AF.

The group is not making the mileage they need to be making per day to reach their goals. Because of this, Hutch suggests they take an off piste short cut.

As a frequent hiker of the rugged mountains of Maine, this is a nightmare scenario for me.

Just the thought…

The men agree to Hutch’s plan, although they are definitely nervous and skeptical; particularly Luke.

The forest is so dark and thick, the rain not giving them a moment’s break. They are exhausted, they are physically no match for the rough terrain. They see things. Everything starts to go really badly.

Forced to take shelter for a night in what clearly is a haunted cabin, the men are finally pushed to their breaking points by what lay inside.

Y’all, these hiking scenes chilled me to the bone. I loved Nevill’s descriptions of being in the forest. How it swallows you, completely cutting you off from the modern world and returning your senses to their more primal nature.

I thought he captured that fear that the wilderness can evoke in us so freaking well. I absolutely loved the first half of this.

The second half does take a twist that shifts the feeling more from fear to anger, as the narrative directs focus from the devil we don’t know, to the devil we do.

I had jaw dropping, stomach-turning moments right up to the very end. The final scene was so intense. Overall, I think this is an extremely well done survival Horror story; especially depending on what your fears are.

My only negative would be that I felt certain sections dragged on a bit. Particularly some of the interactions between the men, although I do understand the author’s choice with those moments.

I definitely will be thinking of this one for a long time to come, especially on my next hiking trip!

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