This novel is filled with many priceless examples of overwritten prose, particularly regarding the character Anna s breasts, which behave in ways contrary to both nature and basic anatomy ex She stopped, pursing her nipples towards him It s interesting as prose archaeology if you re a fan of THE WICKER MAN, but I wouldn t recommend it otherwise. I have never read a book with so many exclamation marks in.This is the book that inspired The Wicker Man and there are parts of it that were so like key scenes in the film that I now have to go and re watch it Supposedly set in Cornwall there seems to be very little that s Cornish about it admittedly strange and witchy things do happen down here but the landscape and names seem very un Cornish A good quick read that I shall probably revisit again. 2 stars it was OK I read this because the book is the inspiration for my favorite folk horror movie, The Wicker Man No, not the Nicolas Cage version I liked the description of the town and how it contorted reality But overall I found it melodramatic overwritten and dated racist and sexist. David Pinner, Ritual Finders Keepers, 1967 I find it absolutely staggering that Ritual was out of print for as long as it was before being resurrected by Finders Keepers a music collective, not a press in 2011 After all, Ritual is the novel that Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer loosely adapted to create The Wicker Man, one of filmdom s enduring classics despite the slight loss of luster form the abortion foisted on the world as a reimagining in 2006 According to Finders Keepers preface to David Pinner, Ritual Finders Keepers, 1967 I find it absolutely staggering that Ritual was out of print for as long as it was before being resurrected by Finders Keepers a music collective, not a press in 2011 After all, Ritual is the novel that Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer loosely adapted to create The Wicker Man, one of filmdom s enduring classics despite the slight loss of luster form the abortion foisted on the world as a reimagining in 2006 According to Finders Keepers preface to the new edition, Christopher Lee had optioned the book himself back in the sixties, but Lee, Hardy, and Shaffer, after the deal fell through, thought the source material was too good to pass up and, in essence, cooked up their own version by changing a few key elements And yes, you will be able to see a good deal of similarity between the two stories.Plot Eight year old Dian Spark falls to her death while climbing a tree Or so it would seem why would she be climbing a tree whilst clutching a garlic blossom Big city inspector David Hanlin is called in to investigate, and thethe clannish villagers try to keep the incident to themselves, the harder he tries to break through their shell, until the Mayday festival reveals all to everyone involvedSince the question that s going through your head right now is is it as good as The Wicker Man I ll start by telling you the answer is no Nor is it as good as Hardy and Shaffer s novelization of Shaffer s script cf review 29Mar04 ish While there are certainly bits where the Shaffer team should have cleavedclosely to Ritual Hanlin is fara nuanced character than Neil Howie s paragon of Christian goodness, for example Pinner is simply not as good a writer as Shaffer The prose is oft times as purple as the book s cover, and for a rural town, everyone in it feels so urbane This is not necessarily a bad thing if this town existed in the real world, it would be tops on my list of places to move but it does require a great deal of suspension of disbelief Also, there are a few places where Pinner seems to let one fact or another of one of his subplots et beyond his control Never for a long time, and never enough to entirely derail the book, but enough to jar.If you re a Wicker Man fan and isn t everyone , this is essential reading On the other hand, if the movie s not your cup of tea, this isn t one to go seeking out This novel was the inspiration for the cult movie, The Wicker Man Set against an enclosed rural Cornish landscape, Ritual follows the trail of English police officer, David Hanlin, who is requested to investigate the murder of a local child During the protagonist s short stay, he is slowly subjected to a spectacle of psychological trickery, sexual seduction, ancient religious practices and nightmarish sacrificial rituals I don t know where to begin with this one.It s a weird, trippy 60 s novel characterized by off kilter reality.If you re a fan of The Wicker Man , it s worth a read, just to see the genesis of that film which wastightly constructed than the novel I prefer thestark moralistic contrast and conflict between the villagers and the policeman in the movie, than the fuzzier contest of wills in this book.If you haven t seen the movie, I m not sure I d recommend this. Since this book is primarily read because it is the inspiration behind 1973 s The Wicker Man , it is difficult to evaluate it on its own merits, without comparing it to the farfamous and superior film Fundamentally this novel is a murder mystery however, the mystery is never quite resolved, nor is the nature of the titular ritual explained It is muchmorally and spiritually ambiguous than The Wicker Man , and is charged with a raw eroticism that borders on being pornographic Since this book is primarily read because it is the inspiration behind 1973 s The Wicker Man , it is difficult to evaluate it on its own merits, without comparing it to the farfamous and superior film Fundamentally this novel is a murder mystery however, the mystery is never quite resolved, nor is the nature of the titular ritual explained It is muchmorally and spiritually ambiguous than The Wicker Man , and is charged with a raw eroticism that borders on being pornographic The novel really suffers from Pinner s purple prose something that was criticized upon its release Here are a few samples The breeze paused to catch its breath and two girlish ribbons of blood tied themselves on the horse s white belly The whole novel is written like this, and these aren t even the worst lines The dialogue is a constant stream of wordplay and innuendo On top of this overblown style, the point of view frenetically jumps from character to character The result is a disorienting and nauseating reading experience As other s have said, its trippy If you haven t seen Robin Hardy s film, I doubt you will be interested in this novel At the book s heart is the kernel of the idea for The Wicker Man, but it is almost unreadable owing to the stylistic quality of the narrative The author ties himself in knots in an ostentatious attempt to include simile and other devices, most of which are contrived and inappropriate A laborious read. The chances are, if you read this novel, you re doing so because of The Wicker Man The film started as an adaptation of this novel they bought the rights to the book but immediately went the way of so many adaptations, by throwing away everything but the basic idea Puritanical policeman investigates occult goings on in a remote community and one scene the through the wall seduction And, in this case, that was probably a good thing.Ritual follows Detective Inspector David Hanlin of Scotla The chances are, if you read this novel, you re doing so because of The Wicker Man The film started as an adaptation of this novel they bought the rights to the book but immediately went the way of so many adaptations, by throwing away everything but the basic idea Puritanical policeman investigates occult goings on in a remote community and one scene the through the wall seduction And, in this case, that was probably a good thing.Ritual follows Detective Inspector David Hanlin of Scotland Yard s Special Branch as he arrives in a Cornish village to investigate the supposedly accidental death of a young girl found dead at the base of an oak tree Hanlin believes it to be a ritual killing, in part because a monkey s head and several bats had been nailed to the tree above her, but also because he s obsessed with the idea of rooting out witchcraft and ritual killings.This would have made for an interesting detective story with a twist, but Ritual isn t your standard detective novel For a long time, reading it, I wasn t sure if the writing was inept or merely strange Sample sentence David tabulated the remark on his brain slate for David deciding to remember something, or Oh, do please transport yourself from the murky shadows instead of the usual Step into the light In the end, I settled for mostly strange, a little inept The style is, I suppose, comic not the in the sense of being funny, but in the sense of wringing every scene and every character for as much grotesquerie as possible In part, it reminded me of Richard Hughes darkly Dickensian style from A High Wind in Jamaica, only not as successful.Which is a pity, because, aside from the link to The Wicker Man, the prose style is about the only thing that comes close to working As a comedy, it s not funny as a detective story, it follows no logic it doesn t play its occult elements for thrills, so it s no use as a horror novel its characters are all so grotesquely drawn, it s got nothing to say about them It has a twist at the end but a short story s worth of twist, not a novel s worth.I don t want to say it s bad But, even once I got over the shock of it not being what I was expecting, I still wasn t sure what to make of it, so never got into it In the end, it seemed to be grotesque for the sake of being grotesque, like a Gerald Scarfe political cartoon satirising some now long forgotten event Perhaps, then, for Wicker Man completists only It s difficult not to compare this to The Wicker Man when you re reading it, which is a shame because the book, while an obvious inspiration for the film, really is a completely different story, and one which the movie took to a new level.Still, although it pales in comparison to the story of the film, it s still a great read and it s fascinating to see the concepts that became on screen characters Anna and her incredible stretching breasts eventually become Willow, the landlord s daughter, w It s difficult not to compare this to The Wicker Man when you re reading it, which is a shame because the book, while an obvious inspiration for the film, really is a completely different story, and one which the movie took to a new level.Still, although it pales in comparison to the story of the film, it s still a great read and it s fascinating to see the concepts that became on screen characters Anna and her incredible stretching breasts eventually become Willow, the landlord s daughter, while David, the police inspector who takes it upon himself to investigate a village where a child was potentially murdered, is a shadow of Edward Woodward David s religion, while touched upon in the book, is nowhere near the central feature it is in the film.Published in 1967, the book is dated in style and you can tell that it s not a modern text Still, if you can get past the exclamation marks, it s still a great read, as we follow David into the darkness waiting for him in a little Cornish village