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3.09  ·  Rating details ·  362 ratings  ·  62 reviews
A missing child, psychological trickery, sexual seduction, ancient religious practices and sacrificial rituals. Rediscover the original seed that spawned 'The Wicker Man' film legacy.
Paperback, 226 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Finders Keepers (first published 1967)
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Average rating 3.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  362 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Rebecca McNutt
Not exactly the mind-blowing and hideous yet beautiful and strangely psychedelic 1973 British adaptation that I remember (The Wicker Man), but this book is still worth checking out for its classic status, unique style and compelling mystery.
Alex Bledsoe
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.
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).
Robert Beveridge
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
Sep 22, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
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 was more tightly constructed than the novel. I prefer the more stark 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.
Kurt Douglass
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 far more famous (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 much more morally and spiritually ambiguous than "The Wicker Man", and is charged with a raw eroticism that borders on being pornographic. ...more
Oct 03, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Murray Ewing
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
Sophie Childs
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Nov 17, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

This might be the worst book I've ever read. It might actually be worse than the Nic Cage version of The Wicker Man. Full of racism, sexism, and homophobia, plus it's terribly written. Like at one point the detective humps a teenage girl through a wall. The prose is so bad it borders on nonsensical. Don't waste your time.
Sergio  Mori
The minute I learnt The Wicker Man was loosely based on this, I run to my local library to see if they had it (well, to their website). They did! However, once I got it I had to wait for a bit to read it: my pesky partner kidnapped it and started reading it first. As you can see, we are big pagan fans in this household. Bring on the witches!

The book is fun to read and you can clearly see the inspiration behind some of the iconic scenes in the movie, but it somehow lacks a lot of the magic. I
Sarah C. Frazer
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly good read.

Excellent descriptive language with a huge surprise ending. Can't see where the authors of "Wicker Man" decided to go so far away from the original premise of the book.
Jamie McMahan
I was interested to read this 1967 novel written by actor/novelist David Pinner as it was the basis for the cult classic film "The Wicker Man", a movie I absolutely love (meaning the original production circa 1972 or so, not that miserable remake with Nicholas Cage, but I digress!) In point of fact, according to numerous articles and interviews there is some dispute among the filmmakers as to what extent the novel influenced the movie, but clearly the overarching broad strokes of the plot are ...more
Side Real Press
Aug 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review was previously posted on the Side Real Press website in 2011.

This title interested me as it is the book which was supposedly the inspiration for the Schaffer film 'The Wicker Man' (1973) a great favourite of mine. 'Ritual' has been virtually impossible to find at a decent price, so this reprint is very welcome, and affordable.

Firstly one should say that whilst there are some similarities to the film (one scene in particular - no; not that one) the book is very much its own beast,
Andy Bryant
It's easy to see why Robert Hardy and Anthony Shaffer were inspired by David Pinner's novel to create The Wicker Man (and why Christopher Lee himself optioned the book in the Sixties). Ritual is a decent story, and while the characters often seem a bit stereotyped (an urbanite's view of what pagan country folk would be like) and the Cornish landscape criminally unexplored (it could have been set anywhere really), it's an enjoyable read, with a prose style that is often as uncomfortable as the ...more
Chris Browning
Jun 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Bloody hell. This is one of the sources for The Wicker Man, with Shaffer and Hardy buying the rights for it to use as a starting point for their own ideas because, according to a very diplomatic Shaffer, he couldn’t see how to give it a direct adaptation.

What this translates to is that the book is terribly written, florid, dumbfounding nonsense with some occasionally brilliant moments - and these bits just shine like diamonds among the shit mainly because Shaffer lifted them wholesale for the
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ritual is a goldmine of interesting imagery hampered by an author who clearly loved the cleverness of his clever wordplay without realising that to the outside reader it can become a bit tiresome.

Nevertheless, Ritual is a compelling read, capable of weaving a mystery through its odd setting and cast of characters (though it's an odd choice to emphasise its setting as Cornwall when it could take place in any small town that has: a pub, a church, a woodland and a beach, which may have added a
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is the inspiration for The Wicker Man movies. However, if you're hoping for a more in-depth novelization of those films, you'll be disappointed. The novel's protagonist is a police officer in England, tasked with investigating the death of a little girl in an isolated village in 1960s England. He is convinced it's a ritual murder, perpetrated as plot amongst the townspeople. And, indeed, the town is full of very odd people, so maybe he's right.
The writing is atrocious. This is an
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Utterly bizarre and almost unreadable.

I had to read this because I've been an obsessed Wicker Man devotee for a long time. I needed to read the inspiration behind one of my favorite films. As other reviews have mentioned, the movie plot far surpasses the original source material.

This novel was written in a strange way, with overly flowery language that was just annoying and nonsensical. It had so much potential to be something mysterious and eerie, but mainly came off grotesque and
I read this book purely because of the Wicker Man connection though the plot does differ quite considerably from the film. I found this book to be suitably grotesque and tense, though the language and style of writing did tend to the overblown and confusing at times. The characters are mainly unsavoury, including the protagonist and I found the ending to be fairly predictable. Other than that it did make for a quick and enjoyably creepy read.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fiction, britain, crime
How this book could have inspired the compelling WICKER MAN, I have no idea. Prose style is *awful*: ugly, ungainly, and hacked off. It's so bad the book is actually physically unpleasant to read. Characters are unbelievable and the whole thing comes with a “twist” ending that is just stupid. It defies imagination how they got THE WICKER MAN out of this book. I guess it *is* possible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Brian Overton
I had high hopes for this book as I am a fan of The Wicker Man (original cult classic not the Nic Cage remake which is horrid). The affiliation between the two is very loose though. I was disappointed in Ritual. The writing was choppy, editing left something to be desired, the story not well developed, and the ending flat out sucked.
Avery N
Aug 18, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I cannot explain to you how terrible this book is. This is a truly, deeply heinously written book. I could barely get through the entire thing, it was so so so SO terrible. I read this for a bit of cult horror movie history - if you are considering reading this for that reason, DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME. This book is easily the worst book I’ve ever read.
Bill Young
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ian White
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it
The book that inspired the Wicker Man. Even though it is uncredited as such, there are too many parallels to deny it between film and book. The film is superior, however, with most of the changes being for the better, particularly the ending. The book is worth reading as a companion to the film and interesting in its own right, if a bit overwritten, but the florid atmosphere is memorable.
Mark Brown
I enjoyed this novel up to a point but I did find the dialogue of the villagers difficult to swallow and the ending to be somewhat trite. Though this is essential reading for fans of The Wicker Man (1973) Anthony Shaffer's screenplay and the resulting film and are a vast improvement on Pinner's story though they do retain some of the stronger elements of the novel.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This curio is definitely worth reading for its status as the book that inspired The Wicker Man. And well done to Anthony Schaffer for spotting the potential peekabooing behind Pinner's frankly terrible prose, littered with gems such as "the night was hot like curry breath on his face" and "it's child murder that upsets my liquorice allsorts."
Michael Brunson
Dec 04, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have read worse, but, seldom.

I thought it was pretentiously convoluted. This was the most tedious thing I have read since "Tybee." All books are experiential in nature and perhaps you will find this a better read than I. The best part to me was it's sudden ending.
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Goodreads Librari...: Book Date 3 11 Oct 05, 2015 08:28AM  
Folk Horror Revival: Ritual 4 52 Mar 02, 2015 05:33PM  

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David Pinner was born in 1940. After school and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he appeared with repertory companies at Sheffield, Perth, Coventry (Belgrade Theatre) and Windsor. By 1969 he had written thirteen plays, including ‘Fanghorn’, ‘Dickon’, ‘Lightfall’ and ‘Eiderdown’. RITUAL was his first novel.
“A rose, to her, was not a natural sculpture in silence, but a beautiful terror on fire.” 1 likes
“Any man who does not experience his hair trying to walk from the top of his head in a wood or a graveyard at night, is suffering from a supreme lack of imagination.” 1 likes
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