The Ritual by Adam Nevill
This is a fantastic horror novel, one that is genuinely chilling and disturbing. It’s really two books in a way – everything up to about halfway is one terrible story, then the second half is another, equally horrible story. But both are expertly knitted together at the end.
In all honesty, I preferred the cold, open, chilling first “story” more – four friends lost in ancient woods in Scandinavia, being hunted by… something. Nevill’s writing absolutely shines here and in many ways a novella of this story alone with a different ending might have been close to perfect.
But when the story switches (can’t tell you why or how without spoilers) it becomes an entirely different type of horror story. It’s still brilliant and I enjoyed the whole book, but I’ve seen some reviews where people loved the first half and hated the second half. I can understand that, but I still enjoyed both and the story as a whole by the end was very satisfying. It’s the first of Nevill’s novels I’ve read, and I’ll certainly be reading more.
A tremendous tale of old gods, ritual horror and desperate survival. Highly recommended.