The Ritual is a 2011 award-winning horror novel by Adam Nevill. When I finished it, which didn't take long because I couldn't put it down, my first thought was that it should be adapted for film, and here it is. This is a good, solid horror story, with those ill-equipped young men lost in the primeval Scandinavian forest.
from the back of the book:
When four old university friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect with one another. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise. With limited experience between them, a shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives.quotes that struck me:
Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, Luke figures things couldn't possibly get any worse. But then they stumble across a derelict building. Ancient artifacts decorate the walls and there are bones scattered upon the dry floors. The residue of old rites and pagan sacrifice for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. As the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn't come easy among these ancient trees....
Maybe for short periods of time it seemed to him, inside that stinking bed, that some people were exempt from tragedy and pain, but these respites were short; in the scheme of things and in the length of eternity, respites were nothing but anomalies in a relentless flow of despair and pain and sadness and horror that surely would eventually sweep everyone away.
And so it all continued; it was dull in its predictability. Evil was, he decided, inevitable, relentless, and predictable. Imaginative,
he'd give it that much, but soulless.
The Guardian opens a positive review by saying, "This novel grabs from the very first page, refuses to be laid aside, and carries the hapless reader, exhausted and wrung out, to the very last sentence."
If you're interested in other horror stories and weird tales I've read, please check out those posts here.