Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!
So, I have no love for the 'cabin in the woods' horror trope. I can't stand movies or books like it, so I felt a sense of dread fill my heart as I started to read Modern Rituals. It starts off as a mash up of the Japanese horror movie The Ring (freaky little wet girl) and a big peoples Hunger Games (a ritual to appease a higher power): running about frantically trying to survive, ghostly killings, generally stupid behaviour, stereotypical slasher characters. Bleh. I have heard it mimics an actual movie called 'Cabin In The Woods', but I haven't seen it, so I can't really comment!
In general terms, I really didn't like what I was reading. But, being the stubborn type and not one to leave the dead dog lie, I trudged on, hoping against hope that somehow the promise I saw written in the synopsis was actually fulfilled.
Then, to my surprise, about 70% in, the promise kicks in hard! And it's damned good too! Total switch flip and I wish I could tell you why I ended up giving it 4 stars when I initially wanted to DNF it, but it'd kind of spoil it. And I ain't that kinda gal! But a hint, all of a sudden you aren't in the cabin anymore and everything has a much much larger scope than the Woods. Plus the characters lose their slap-worthiness when you realise... Ha! No spoiler for you! ! It all made me Cheshire cat grin! (and there's an evil koala, so kudos for that!!)
The writing has this off beat, quirky feel to it, that's quite charming and engaging. I actually really enjoyed that aspect from the start, though occasionally it felt a little bit jaunty, like it's rushed a demi semi quaver ahead of itself. It's not too often though, so I really only noticed it during the 'bleh' period when I was not so engrossed in the storyline.
It perplexed me as to why we are only given major introduction scenes for some of the characters, where others were explained as a small reveal within the main storyline. It's not like it was a major vs minor character thing either. Maybe a lead down the garden path? Not quite sure. Whatever the reason, one in particular seemed to mar the flow of the storyline due to it being a flashback scene rather than the characters jump in point, so it seemed quite incongruous.
I do wish the initial line was cut down slightly, it would be a shame for readers to give up too early if they were looking for the scifi/dark fantasy mix rather than the horror tropes. 50/50 instead if 70/30 maybe! I doubt it would have compromised anything, and the switch wouldn't have seemed quite so hurried. Though I suppose, since this is the first book in the series, I can understand why it was dragged out as far as it was. Setting up something like this is probably not that easy to accomplish in a smallish volume.
Needless to say, if you are an impatient reader, and you aren't a horror fan, you might want to give up, but don't! Trust me, it's worth it. And I will, in all probability, be looking for the next instalment, whenever that comes out!
Hardcopy Worthy? Good question! Maybe! I think I'll wait till I read the second book to decide on that!