Behrg Reviews "The Ritual" by Steve Stred
Reading The Ritual is like being invited to an exclusive party, only after arriving you realize you've stepped into the inner circle of a cult on a night you might only remember as your last. And yes, you will be praying you get out alive.
Stred's approach to the subject matter is quite unique, taking us into the normal-seeming world of Brad, a character who has an ordinary job he suffers through, who deals with relatable issues, and is, on almost all accounts, the epitome of normal.
Except for that one thing.
The writing style is different than most reads you'll encounter, but suits the story and its take well, disarming the reader with its simple approach while allowing the darker moments--of which there are plenty--to really take hold. And let's get one thing straight, when Stred explores those darker corners, he makes sure the reader comes face to face with everything you were hoping, and simultaneously fearing, you would encounter. This tale does not shy away from uncomfortable material. The finale is both extreme and utterly satisfying, and though it hits the points you expect it to, it does so with an added measure of gusto. Oh, and a lot of blood.
I love finding emerging and new authors who aren't afraid to swing for the fences and will do so while developing their own style rather than trying to imitate those they admire. If this is the start of where Stred is willing to take us at this point early in his career, I can't wait to see where his writing and stories will eventually lead.
The Ritual will be available for sale this October. I received an advanced reader copy from the author, and decided to post my thoughts and review. This in no way influenced my rating.