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“Ritual” by Graham Masterton

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This is the first book written by Graham Masterton that I read in English. In the past, when I was still at school, I had read a few of his novels translated into my mother tongue. It always made me feel funny the way, in the translated version, sounds were conveyed. I thought that the original text would certainly not make use of verbalised sounds.

I was wrong. The amount of “whooshhh whooshhh” and other, equally strange sounds, is impossible. In any way, what follows is my GoodReads updates on the book.

page 126: ” I can’t make up my mind about the book or Masterton either. Well, in all fairness, it did start getting interesting after the first 100 pages.”

page 164: “I think I will have to reconsider my thoughts about Masterton. Not entirely, but I need to keep in mind that I’m reading an old book. A 24 year old book to be precise. Still, flawed writing but I’ll say more after I’m done with the book.”

page 202: “I do increasingly get the feeling that this book never went through an editor. It feels like a well written draft. Also, it feels like an exhausted short story stretched to unhealthy lengths. Anyway, patience till the end.”

page 268: “I’m guessing that once I’m finished with this book I’ll have a real hard time rating & reviewing. How can a book be so disconnected that it feels like it’s been written by two perfectly dissimilar writers? Passages of seer genius are followed by horrendous writing. I guess I’ll only know at the very end.”

page 348: “Right. so, I just finished the novel. I will have to give it some time before I write a full review but for now I can say that my previous updates were spot on. Add to those an unwelcome supernatural entry and a stupidly forced ending. But, as I’ve said, this is an old book.”

Rate and Review:

I will give this a rating of 3.5 out of 5.
The story is this: a father and son’s inter-American trip turns into a nightmare when they’re both let into a secret that has existed for years under agreed hush-hush by the officials.
It starts off quite well, then it goes into a slumber for so long that I almost gave up (again! as I had tried reading this in the past but gave up), it turns into a hell of a ride towards the third quarter, and, in the end, it ends so disappointingly that it almost made me regret all the time I spent. OK, so maybe I’m a bit harsh, specially since this is a book written in the very early 80s. To be fair, it is an enjoyable ride, but, the ending, to me, was horrendous. It is a story that, for some reason, turned from a thriller ride into a supernatural take on belief.
Even worse though, the very last words that aim to leave the reader with a shocking aftertaste, fail miserably. They left me wondering why people, specially in those days, tried so hard. I bet that he was not the only one; Masterton that is. He was not the only one to try so hard. But, still, this trick, this device essentially, unless delivered impeccably (which, is not the case here), ends in the disappointment of the reader.

UPDATE | Complete OMNIBUS review on GoodReads

This book is a collection of two novellas by Graham Masterton: 1. Ritual 2. Walkers
While reading this book, the reader will need to keep in mind a couple of things. First off, both novellas were written in the 80s. The first one was actually written in the early years of the decade, which the second one has a copyright year of 1989. The second thing that one needs to keep in mind is that Masterton has a very personal way of conveying sounds through his words. Although it gets tiring fast, one needs to put up with constant uses of “whooooosh” and “shhhhhh-shhhhhhhhhhh” and “clicky-drip-clicky-plop”.
Keeping these in mind, and putting up with the occasional horrendous (if, non-existent) editing, the reader will enjoy a thrill ride.
Masterton, with all his shortcomings, delivers descriptions that will make your stomach growl and your eyelids shut involuntarily. You might even find yourself recoiling or turning your head away from the page, to give yourself a moment to digest what you just read; or, to avoid getting sick.
The basic element that keeps the stories together is the relationship between father and son. In both cases, the background is a dysfunctional family, a secluded area, a deep dark secret and an ominous threat. In both cases, the descriptions will test your stamina. At some points, they were indeed excessive, to the point of making me avert my eyes.
It will certainly not have the same effect to all people. And some might think that I’m just a weak character. The truth is that for some reason, there were moments in Masterton’s writing where I thought that he had identified my one and only phobia and played with it as if it were a string on a Stradivarius violin.
I think everyone with a wish for a scare will enjoy both stories in this book. There are moments that you will feel like you’re wasting time, yes, but, in the end, the aftertaste will vastly be positive.

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