Book Review: The Ritual by Adam Nevill

I do believe autumn is here. Since August I’ve been very much in the mood for horror. Not just horror, but stomach churning horror. The Ritual by Adam Nevill almost hit the spot. Even thought it wasn’t as graphic as I was in the mood for, it definitely had me on the edge of my seat!


Title: The Ritual
Author: Adam Nevill
Narrator: David Thorpe
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Survival Horror
Length: 11:56:33 hours, 418 pages
Published: 2011

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Trigger warning: Blood, death, occult, violence

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…

I finished The Ritual a few weeks ago. It was my main read for my commute to and from work. Who’d have guessed public transport could be this exciting?! If you didn’t know, there’s a Netflix original movie based on this book. As a movie fan, I like the movie. As a horror fan, I love the book.

This is the only book of Nevill I have read, but from this I do think he is a wonderful writer. He both manages to write survival horror, but also the horror that being an adult can be. We are all flawed, have our own insecurities and how these insecurities can have an effect on our relationships.

Other than the emotions we go through, the atmosphere is described amazingly – very disturbing, uncomfortable and claustrophobic.

We’re introduced to four men in their 30s. Hutch, Luke, Dom and Phil.

Hutch is the glue of the group. He’s a man that is married, seems well-adjusted, and is in good shape.

Phil and Dom – both married and both have children. Good jobs and good money. Very vanilla.

Luke is the odd man out who feels alienated from his friends. Compared to the other guys he isn’t as much as an “adult”. He never settled down, doesn’t hold on to jobs that well and lives in a shared flat.

Regarding Phil and Dom – in my head, they are very much alike and in the beginning I had a very difficult time differentiating between those two. Oftentimes I felt like they could just have been one and the same. Of course the story needs there to be four members of the group, so it makes sense, but I’d just like to have seen more diversity between the guys.

I got into this thought train, where I just see all of them as white straight men, so in my head I got them all mixed up at times. As the story progresses it gets easier to tell them apart, but at the beginning I was very confused. However, it does make sense to me that a group of white men would have the nerve to go hiking in the Norwegian wilderness without being properly prepared. Like, new shoes, wrong socks, and one of them is even wearing jeans!

What irks me 
As an Inuk from Greenland – born and raised – it just irks me when tourists underestimate nature. This book is awesome. Wonderfully exciting, the character interactions are interesting, but in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think that this could’ve all been avoided if these men would just think. Do they have experience in trekking or hiking in mountainous areas? No? Then don’t fucking go! Know your limits and don’t be embarrassed by admitting your limitations.

Me throughout the book seeing the men making bad decisions

What I think this book is about is the choices we make. They have a choice. They had many decisions they could’ve made throughout the book that could change all of the events. Prevented all of the horrors. They all just go with the flow. They’re not against changing plans, the change just isn’t allowed to divert too far from the original plan. They still want to finish what they’ve started. Which is also what we learn about the men themselves and their life choices throughout the story.

Final thoughts
Even though I got annoyed by the fact that these men went into the wilderness without being properly prepared, it does tell us much about their characters and where they’re coming from. This for me was an enjoyable and exciting read. Not only do we have the horror and claustrophobia of being trapped in the wilderness, but also the horrors of reality. If you like horror, like being annoyed at people for making stupid decisions and graphic bloody stuff, then this is a book I can highly recommend! Happy autumn reading!

About the author 
Adam L.G. Nevill was born in Birmingham, England, in 1969 and grew up in England and New Zealand. He is the author of the horror novels: ‘Banquet for the Damned’, ‘Apartment 16’, ‘The Ritual’, ‘Last Days’, ‘House of Small Shadows’, ‘No One Gets Out Alive’, ‘Lost Girl’, ‘Under a Watchful Eye’ and ‘The Reddening’. His first short story collection, ‘Some Will Not Sleep: Selected Horrors’, was published on Halloween, 2016, and won the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. His second collection of short fiction, ‘Hasty for the Dark: Selected Horrors’ was published on Halloween 2017.

His novels, ‘The Ritual’, ‘Last Days’ and ‘No One Gets Out Alive’ were the winners of The August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel. ‘The Ritual’ and ‘Last Days’ were also awarded Best in Category: Horror, by R.U.S.A. Several of his novels are currently in development for film and television, and in 2016 Imaginarium adapted ‘The Ritual’ into a major motion picture.

Adam also offers three free books to readers of horror: ‘Cries from the Crypt’ (downloadable from his website), ‘Before You Sleep’ and ‘Before You Wake’ (available from major online retailers).

Adam lives in Devon, England.

More information about the author and his books is available at:

Happy autumn reads ❤

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