In THE RITUAL by Adam Nevill, Luke and three old friends from university, living in the UK, reunite for a wilderness hike in a remote region of Sweden and find themselves in trouble when their shortcut takes them into heavy wilderness. Lost and hungry and feeling alienated from his friends, who have since acquired wives, children and successful jobs while he has turned into something of a deadbeat, Luke believes things can’t get any worse. But something evil is in the woods. Something very old. Something that was once worshipped. And it’s hunting them.
Nevill had me fooled. The book starts off a bit plodding and the interaction between the characters seems a little stilted. Then things start to go wrong. And more wrong. And MORE WRONG. And the worse things get, the better Nevill gets at telling his story and making you deeply empathize with every single horror and torment (and infrequent moment of hope) his protagonist feels. The full spectrum of fear and horror is on display in this book, and you experience every single emotion along with the protagonist. That’s the stuff of great horror, and Nevill nails it.
If you’re a fan of fully realized horror that drags you along for an emotional ride, check this one out.