Book Review: Modern Rituals by J.S. Leonard

24466609A failed ritual annihilates modern life.

Manhattan, NY: The E-Train slams into James Bixby, a strapping young artist on the rise, after a life-saving rescue attempt goes awry. Belfast, Ireland: A bullet severs Olivia Young’s spinal cord while she defends a doctor colleague–the second bullet pierces her heart.

Then they awaken–unharmed.

“Selected” and thrust into a deadly ritual, James’ and Olivia’s lives–along with the lives of five others–will decide humanity’s fate: surrender to the old Gods’ rule or live on in blissful ignorance. Follow their frantic struggle as Magnus–a secret organization of enormous reach and scientific prowess–directs the ritual to its gruesome end.

Copy provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 8/10

Overall Impression: An addictive read that leaves you begging for more.

Recommend to: Fans of fantasy and Joss Whedon.

I thought that this book was a great pastiche to Joss Whedon’s, Cabin in the Woods. It has a rather similar premise, but varies just enough to have its own original spin on the idea. I am a huge fan of the movie, and Joss Wedon in general, and it was really interesting to read new take on this idea. You can still recognize what inspired this book, but it’s certainly not a rip off. I found myself rooting for the characters in this novel (well, the not evil ones) which made this book really hard to put down. I read most of it in two sittings.

It was a great examination into the horror genre, The characters, once they are immersed in the ritual, are forced into the archetypes of horror movie characters that we know so well. These examinations always capture my interest, and I did enjoy that there were moments in the book that did make me giggle. Mainly this came from moments when the characters in the book have a brief moment of clarity when they wonder why the heck they or another character is acting a certain way, sometimes thinking the same things that we think when we watch horror movies.

I’m also pretty sure that there is an Office Space reference in this book, and it totally made my day. You know something is good when it references Office Space.

200 (3)
They switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much…

I’ve got to say that I’m a fan of Olivia, the main female protagonist. She’s smart, level-headed, and good in a crisis. In fact, there probably wouldn’t have been any survivors if it weren’t for her. I believe that James acts as a good compliment. Olivia can sometimes be a little too blunt about things, and can seem a bit unaffected by some of the more gory things that happen during the ritual. These are the moments when James comes in and reminds Olivia that not everyone is a trained nurse, so straightforward diagnoses of the cause of death may not be as helpful as she thinks. Despite this, Olivia is still an endearing character with a lot of heart, and it’s easy to root for both her and James throughout the book.

One of the only issues I had was the fact that the characters who were not the main three got lost by about halfway through the book. They were developed a little bit in the beginning to give us a sense of who they were, but that was about it. This especially rings true for Colette. Colette plays the role of the sexy, blonde girl that always dies in horror movies, and sadly, she actually ends up staying in this role for the entire book. All of the other characters have a least one scene from their past that really tells us about them, but Colette doesn’t have one. (Neither does Keto, though we at least find out a little bit about him through James.) We practically know nothing about her, and while the other characters seem to break away from the formulaic horror movie stereotypes in their real lives, it almost seems like Colette was just a living, breathing stereotype. This seemed unfortunate since I thought that it would have been interesting to give her a little more back story like the rest of the characters.

Other than that, the book is solid. It’s an addictive read, so be sure that you start this book when you have time to get lost in something. Luckily, this is going to be a series, so we get to read even more!


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