Ritual by Steve Stred

Brad’s a hardworking telemarketer, but he’s also the Chosen One, and soon enough he won’t have to sell over-priced products and tolerate his irritating coworker. Counting down the days on the calendar, he continues with his strict routine until the time finally arrives when his destiny can be fulfilled – the Black Heavens await.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The thing about Ritual, is that it started off as portraying a life so mundane that many would be able to relate. The monotony of Brad’s daily routine – getting up, brushing teeth, having breakfast, going to work, followed by going to church – should strike a chord, because it’s how we live, doing the same things over and over. It was difficult not to empathise with Brad right at the beginning; a lonely individual, and someone you’d walk past in the street without a second glance. As soon as the underlying strangeness of his religion came to light, however, any and all understanding simply crumbled. It’s not that Brad was the villain, but merely a gullible member of the flock, and the component in someone else’s schemes. “Father” was the masterful cult leader, and if you know me, I love devious and manipulative antagonists. Stred did brilliantly in crafting this terrible character, and the shock value that worked in its favour kept piling up, more than definitely eliciting the desired effect.

Whether intentional or not, I felt there was a message about faith and the extremes of such beliefs – I mean, it’s not that far-fetched, history and the modern day can both paint a picture of the ugliness relating to religious ideology. I find it interesting, especially the fine line between cult and religion, and Stred was able to make me think while simultaneously disgusting me with vivid and graphic imagery that only got worse.

In conclusion: What began as rather calm and quiet, turned distinctly unpleasant as Ritual brought to life biblical lore, its disturbing content snowballing until I felt more than enough discomfort. I was easily engaged by the style of writing, as well as the twisted relationship between Brad and the authority figure known as Father. Likely not for everyone, it includes a whole lot of sexual abuse and fanaticism of the highest degree, but I certainly enjoyed it and its shaping of monsters that had disturbing appetites.

Notable Quote:

He drifted off to sleep with visions of beasts ripping apart the group’s limbs as an inferno blazed behind them.

© Red Lace 2020

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2 Comments on “Ritual by Steve Stred

  1. Great review! This one threw me too. It all started out so normal and then WOW it suddenly wasn’t, haha.

    Like

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