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October 20th, 2011

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04:39 pm - The Ritual
I am always trying to find a good horror novel. I've recently read a couple of good ones that you will know. It by Stephen King and Let the Right One In by Tomas Alfredson. I wish Stephen King would trust his own strength, and not put in a load of unnecessary stuff about skulls and maggots, because it just isn't necessary. The story would be much stronger pared down to its psychology and history. Though who knows, perhaps a substantial part of his audience buy the books for the skulls and maggots, and that's why he's a billionaire. The newer Swedish novel is well written, sadder and gentler than the film, a really good addition to this sparse genre.

And now I am listening to a third good novel - wow this is proving to be a bumper year - which even better is being made into a British horror film. I'm quite hopeful.

The book is The Ritual by Adam Nevill. It is somewhat like Blair Witch Project, and somewhat like Dog Soldiers. It's in two parts and I have only just started onto Part 2, so this is just a quick heads-up, rather than a full account.

It's the story of four guys in their mid-thirties, old University friends, who go for a hiking holiday in northern Sweden in September. They have hopelessly overestimated their fading physical powers, turn back injured, take a short cut and end up being hunted through the forest by something nasty... possibly.

It's thickly written. Nevill (I am just guessing of course) visualises or senses a scene quite vividly, and then conveys it in fairly dense detail. However the action is in contrast both brisk and clear, and dramatically effective. Listening to it on audio I occasionally realised I had zoned out through descriptive passages, but they are not badly written by any means.

I thought there was a class satire not too deeply hidden throughout the book. Two of the friends are a PR exec and a finance manager, and they are really parasitic on the other two throughout, whinging all the time, refusing to do their share of the work, and surreptitiously eating the food. Whereas the two working class types are pretty heroic and effective in comparison. The voice-actor conveys this well. The most heroic character comes from Sheffield, and he makes him sound quite a lot like Sean Bean.

In the second half a lone survivor is rescued by some idiotic Norwegian teenagers. He's semi-conscious and bleeding from a skull fracture and they are all 'Hey, whose your favourite black metal band?' and he's nearly weeping 'I don't know. Cradle of Filth?', 'Those poseurs! You don't know anything about black metal!' Anyway, this made me laugh. It may be they are going to sacrifice him to Odin, but I haven't got that far yet. I have my doubts as to whether this half will have the economical drive of the first, but we will see.

I look forward to the film.

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