The Ritual (novel)

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The Ritual
The Ritual Adam Nevill cover.jpg
First edition cover for the UK and US
AuthorAdam Nevill
CountryUnited Kingdom
Published2011 (UK), Pan Macmillan
2012 (USA) St. Martin's Griffin
Media typePrint, e-book
Pages432 pages
AwardsAugust Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel
Preceded byApartment 16
Followed byLast Days

The Ritual is a 2011 British horror novel by Adam Nevill.[1] The book was first released in the United Kingdom on 7 October 2011 through Pan Macmillan and was released in the United States on 14 February 2012 through Macmillan imprint St. Martin's Griffin.[2] It is Nevill's third published novel and was followed by his 2012 work Last Days. The Ritual is the winner of the 2012 August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel.[3] Film rights were optioned by Stillking Films, before the option was passed to Imaginarium, who currently holds the film and TV rights. The film adaptation was released in cinemas on 13 October 2017 directed by David Bruckner and starring Rafe Spall and Robert James-Collier. [4][5]


Old university friends Dom, Phil, Luke, and Hutch have decided to reunite on a hiking trip through the Swedish Forests. The trip was chosen for its frugality due to the fact that Luke is unable to afford much else. The group is forced to take a shortcut through the woods when Phil develops blisters on his feet and Dom injures his knee. However, the shortcut ends up causing the group to become lost and scared, especially after they discover a disemboweled animal corpse hanging from the trees. They come across an ancient shack filled with bones and artifacts. They also find an abandoned church, desecrated and repurposed for pagan practices. The four are disturbed each night with dreams and visions.

There is much conflict between the four. Luke is the "odd one out," the only one who didn't get a career and settle down. Further rows reveal that Dom and Phil are about to get divorced. Hutch convinces Luke to leave them and press ahead for help, but before Luke can leave, Hutch is taken by an unseen entity, and the others find him naked and gutted in the branches. Phil vanishes next, and Luke and Dom later pass his body, treated in the same fashion. Despite sleeping in shifts, and Luke managing to hurt the creature with a rock, Dom disappears as well. Luke passes out and wakes up in bed in an old room.

He is attended by three masked and painted teenagers who call themselves Loki, Fenris, and Surtr. They are moonshiners and a black metal band named Blood Frenzy. There is also an old woman who supervises the children, and Luke hears faint scuttling from the attic overhead. Luke hopes his hosts will call help but realizes that they are complicit with the entity that killed his friends. When they take him outside to see Dom's body gutted in the trees, he attempts and fails to escape. Loki claims that they are Vikings and tells Luke that he will be sacrificed to Odin. Luke mocks Blood Frenzy as disturbed delinquents until they take him to the attic to see the "ancient ones:" centuries-old humans with goats' legs, tended to by the old woman.

Luke is bathed and prepared for sacrifice by the old woman and tied to an upside-down cross before a pyre. As he screams defiant taunts, Blood Frenzy demands that the old woman summon the god, but she silently refuses. Luke wakes up back in his room, untied, and is given back his Swiss army knife by the old woman. Acquiring the teenagers’ rifle, Luke kills Loki and Fenris, and Surtr flees into the woods. While searching for the keys to their truck, Luke hears the old woman singing in Swedish, summoning “Moder.” Luke realizes she only wanted him to get rid of the teenagers for her and that he is still a sacrifice. He shoots her and sees that she, too, has goat legs.

Luke goes to the attic and kills the ancient ones, putting an end to Moder’s cult. Outside, he hears the enraged Moder killing Surtr and coming for him. Luke drives the truck through the woods and finally confronts Moder, a giant goat-like beast with human arms. Moder tears apart the truck to get to Luke, but Luke stabs her in the throat, driving her off. Luke staggers, naked, through and out of the forest, stalked by Moder’s “white children.” Upon a rocky plain, Luke descends into a delirium and decides that, despite the many downsides of his life in London, the only thing that matters is being alive.


Critical reception for The Ritual has been mostly positive.[6][7][8] The South African paper Independent Online praised the work as "intense and creepy" and commented that it would work well as a horror film.[9] also praised The Ritual, commenting "Nevill's writing style is top-notch and he is one of those guys who can just naturally tell a good story with little to no effort."[10] commented that "Nevill does a good job exploiting the isolation, dreariness, and enormous age of the Swedish forest setting", but also expressed a desire that the "most intriguing ideas [were] more thoroughly explored".[11]



  1. ^ "Review: The Ritual". Locus Magazine. 67 (609). October 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  2. ^ Jamieson, Teddy. "Journey into unknown". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b Gallo, Irene. "Announcing the 2012 British Fantasy Award Winners". Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  4. ^ Martin, Jessica. "Film option deal for Adam Nevill's horror novel The Ritual". SFCrowsnest. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Adaptation of Adam Nevill's The Ritual to be produced by Andy Serkis". Retrieved 2016-07-08.
  6. ^ Fortune, Aidan. "The Ritual by Adam Nevill (book review)". SF Crowsnest. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Fiction Review: The Ritual". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  8. ^ Robbins, Michael. "Heavy metal music finds a place in fiction". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  9. ^ Tshabalala, Tshepo. "Intense and creepy". Independent Online (South Africa). Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  10. ^ Martin, Todd. "Book Review: The Ritual – Author Adam Nevill". Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  11. ^ Kross, Karen. "Some Real Shivers, But No Nightmares: The Ritual by Adam Nevill". Retrieved 4 October 2014.

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