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The Ceremonies

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,774 ratings  ·  165 reviews
Jeremy Freirs is a graduate student and teacher who decides to spend his summer working on his dissertation and preparing for the class he will be teaching in the fall on Gothic Literature; he thinks he has found the perfect place in Gilead, New Jersey, is a world all to its own, the home of a strict religious sect with extremely puritan ideas. Moving into a former storage ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 554 pages
Published July 1st 1985 by Bantam Books (first published July 1st 1984)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  1,774 ratings  ·  165 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
”The tree was dead. But crouched amid its branches, hidden by a web of smoke still rising from the earth, something lived: something older far than humankind, and darker than some vast and sunless cavern on a world beyond the farthest depths of space. Something that breathed, schemed, felt itself dying and dying, lived on.

It was outside nature, and alone. It had no name. High above the smoking ground it waited, black against the blackness of the tree.

It’s time would come.”

It is always so helpful
So, yeah, T.E.D. Klein....

Edited TWILIGHT ZONE MAGAZINE back in the day (I subscribed from the first issue) and wrote a passel of short stories which, in my limited reading experience, I found "accomplished" but did not completely grab me - with the exception of "The Events At Poroth Farm", which he later expanded into this novel right here. Klein's short fiction stands out in my mind for a singular reason - of an endless slew of horror writers referencing Lovecraft for inspiration through the d
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror-fiction
Dread is a word you don't see used much in association with horror fiction any more. And it's a shame, because used properly, slow building dread can be more horrific than any gore or bloodletting.

Fortunately, there are writers who understand this, and one of the best examples can be found in THE CEREMONIES, which starts slow, gets slower, but accumulates dread along the way like a wool suit collecting cat hairs. And it's a marvel of timing, precision and skill, with its cast of great characters
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Next time I'm at a wedding reception, I want to give the groom a copy of The Ceremonies. I'd like to say something clever like, "I hope you end up happier than the couples in this book." I try to do things like that at weddings. It's worth it, because I am always out of the running for being a godparent later, which is like money in my pocket at Easter and Christmas. Did you know that if you "speak now" at a wedding ceremony the couple isn't required to take 24 hours or anything to reconsider? I ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was a slow burn, but when it finally got to the action, it went out with a Bang! Klein took his time with the build up. He fleshed out the characters with detail. I was truly attached to Jeremy and the Poroths. Their ways were really similar to Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. I loved how Jeremy studied his collection of books. My tbr list definitely grew with his vintage and classic taste, though i believe he was doing it for his class. The ending was great! I was saddened by the demise ...more
Kevin Lucia
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm probably risking heresy by saying this: but even though I loved it, and gave it five stars, it did drag a little at the end. Because it becomes very clear what's going to happen. But still, filled with wonderful substance. ...more
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the best "Lovecraftian" novel I've read. The first third of the book is rather slow, some parts feel like they could have been discarded, but Klein establishes a good sense of place and slow-building atmosphere. He doesn't try to scare us much to start with, but later when he wants to he does an excellent good job of it while maintaining more subtlety than most modern horror. Some scenes are quite scary; the "old woman in the elevator" scene, the "rose with teeth" dream sequence and many ...more
Cody | CodysBookshelf
A big, dull plodding novel from the era of epic-length horror works, T.E.D. Klein’s The Ceremonies is frustratingly evasive and off-putting. And while I could forgive a slow pace (some of my favorite books are slower than this), this thing is filled with unlikable, unmemorable characters. The main character, Jeremy, is especially grating as he’s so cynical and bratty.

The only thing this book has going for it is its atmosphere: Klein renders the feeling of living off the beaten path, so to speak
Charles Schneider
Mar 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
This is one of the greatest horror novels ever. In the midst of frightening us, the author also serves up a clever crash course in the history of the gothic novel of horror. Brilliant, since we are in the midst of one. It's a long, dark book, not perfect. (that woulkd be dull.) Easy to find for a pittance. ...more
2,5 stars. "The Ceremonies" start with great promise, only to end up in a wildly unsatysfying way. Klein weaves a well-enough tale of a rural community, completely severed from the outside world, where everyone knows everyone and all day the Lord's praises are sung. To this community comes a young man named Jeremy Freis, who's preparing his dissertation and is getting ready for teaching a class on Gothic literature. Klein is obviously an expert in the field, and often quotes and references autho ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I've finally met the great T.E.D Klein, an author who's gained a transcendent cult status in the horror community by being awesome for a couple years and then vanishing from the face of the Earth. Was it worth it? Kind of. THE CEREMONIES is a fun novel, but it's a BIIIIIG and SLOOOOOW 19th century-like tanker of a book. It threw me off a little bit. It requires a lot of patience and involvement for characters and themes that may or may not seem overplayed with a thirty years perspective an ...more
Jim Smith
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the first work I've read by Klein. His writing & storytelling has impressed me so much in this book alone, and overall, that he has now become a fave author in *my* book. Klein's work in this book is remarkably impressive and intensely spellbinding. I intend to eagerly read *everything* Klein has published and have already checked out his other books available through inter-library loans, "Dark Gods" and "Reassuring Tales". I highly doubt I'll be disappointed with either of them. "The Ce ...more
Sep 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to think that horror novel was an oxymoron, then I read The Ceremonies. It has Lovecraftian atmosphere and dread that builds in tiny increments. If you hesitate to commit to a 500 page novel, see if you can track down a copy of Klein's Dark Gods - four novellas that pack a punch. ...more
Horace Derwent
the cover of this british edition just sucks shit, it quite kills my appetite to reading this awesome book, not the torch-burninglike bald head, not the sutra chanting posture, it's the large piece of ass comment on the front, even if it's from stephen king ...more
Justin Bog
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horror fans--of subtle and creeping terror
I first read The Ceremonies in the 80s over a long humid Michigan summer, and it suited my aspiring student mindset, and inspired the writing mind too. The horror genre is filled with aspiring pupils (I count myself as one of them, and for a long time now). Klein is a bit of a mystery himself, having only produced this one novel and then going deep into secluded woods, disappearing from the horror world like a bursting sun strong enough to only produce light during the 80s decade. This is a sign ...more
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All horror fans
Shelves: horror-faves
I read this book when it was first published in paperback; it was a random purchase and turned out to be the best horror novel I have ever read. I love the theme of isolated places with weird goings-on and this certainly filled the bill there. The Lovecraftian monster and his evil minion were quite chilling. I also liked the gothicism of Jeremy's summer reading list; it served as an excellent undertone during the incidents at Poroth farm, and reading the entries from his journal created a sense ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
There are two significant problems with this:

The first is that Carol's storyline is repetitive, with sequence after sequence boiling down
to (view spoiler). I kept expecting the pattern to be a set up for a clever subversion, with Carol resisting the role that she is being forced into. That never happens.

The second is that making the antagonist of a cosmic horror story a poi
William Holloway
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just finished The Ceremonies by Ted Klein. It is clearly a novel that has earned its reputation as one of the finest works of Cosmic Horror ever written. It has its faults, the ending seemed rushed and a little incongruent with the rest of the book, but this book makes up for its faults in spades.
This is a dense read, that doesn't mind taking trips into minutia, and gets very meta with its constant references to Machen's The White People, making that tale a part of the story itself, as well a
Apr 28, 2019 rated it did not like it

I read The Events at Poroth Farm in the Cthulhu Mythos Megapack about a year ago. That novella, commonly known to be the jumping-off point for The Ceremonies, is an engrossing, chilling little number that uses the journal form to good effect in portraying the insidious approach of some unknown evil. The characters are sympathetic and, though you're not with them for long, you feel genuine concern when the evil catches up to them.

Not so for The Ceremonies.

The main character, Jeremy Freirs, is
Sam Boone
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's unfortunate that "The Ceremonies" is T.E.D. Klein's only full-length novel. This book left me wanting more from him, and there is, a collection called "Dark Gods", but none of that measures up to this creepy Gothic novel. A grad student decides that staying with a strange Amish-type group in rural New Jersey to work on his dissertation is a good idea, but he has no idea that he is somehow being set up as a pawn for something dark, ancient & monstrous to awaken. This is a novel that may requ ...more
Orrin Grey
Maybe it was that I literally just re-read "The Events at Poroth Farm" (the novella of which this novel is a much-expanded version), maybe it was just bad timing, or maybe it's my innate preference for short stories and novellas over novels, but I just couldn't get into The Ceremonies. There's really nothing much wrong with it, besides being in some ways very much a product of its time, but I just could not get invested in reading it and then it had to go back to the library and I figured I'd ju ...more
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Klein was known mainly for his short stories, but he produced a doozy of a novel here-- a modern Lovecraftian Gothic experience that slowly burns hotter and hotter until the conclusion. The story centers on Jeremy Freirs, a graduate student of literature in NYC who needs a quite place to finish his dissertation and finds a seemingly ideal spot in the small town of Gilead, NJ.

Gilead is comprised of an off-shoot Mennonite sect who call themselves 'the breathen', who eschew electricity and are lar

"Wonderful, exciting and suspenseful, full of tension and a sense of deep brooding mystery...
the most exciting novel in my field to come along since Straub's Ghost Story."

--Stephen King
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Another underrated gem! This is not only one of my favorite horror novels, but one of my favorite novels ever. BRILLIANT! Taking a much underused theme from Lovecraft and Machen, Klein creates an otherworldly horror of a small size and brings it to a terrifying grand scale. Ambiguous I know, but I don't want to give away any plot. But lets say Stephen King did something similar in "Dreamcatcher" but ended up creating his usual pastiche of crap. Give this one a shot. It's dense, intricately plott ...more
Got under my skin real good, this one. Unfortunate that ol' T.E.D. only put out this book and a collection of novellas, because he's an author whose back catalog I would happily devour voraciously. This book is primal and dark and Gothic with a capital G, and I blazed through the whole thing in basically two days, which is high praise for a 500-page book. It's delightfully slow to develop, and though you see where it's going from very early on, the gradual unfolding of the plot simmers and sizzl ...more
Angus McKeogh
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Billed as one of those “hard to find” horror classics of the 80’s by a little-known “Grandmaster of Horror” I was underwhelmed by this novel. It was adequate which is probably something that’s not much of a compliment for such a book. Not bad. But not great and probably not even good. Just adequate. Not real scary and kind of corny honestly. All that being said, his out-of-print “masterpiece” Dark Gods (which I just recently got a near fine copy of) is still on my TBR list.
I'd have to give this book a 3.5 rating. I enjoyed the story, but had a hard time becoming enthralled in it. I found the characters interesting but couldn't really identify or sympathize with any of them. Overall, a cool concept and a fun read, just not executed to the extent I would have liked. ...more
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
An excellent novel. I really wish Klein would have written more.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked this… however I’d previously read ‘The Events at Poroth Farm’ which is a novella that Klein also wrote and later expanded into this novel and I enjoyed the original version much more. This book is still fantastic but it doesn’t have the same impact in terms of atmosphere, pacing and flow. The Ceremonies has a bit too much filler and the dread and intent behind the original story gets lost in this. The book is still good but I think I’d recommend ‘The Events at Poroth Farm’ over th ...more
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Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
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“Then, idly scratching his nose, he walks to the bookcase in the living room and stoops before a set of drab brown Victorian volumes gathering dust on the second shelf from the bottom.

How amusing, he thinks, as he withdraws one of them-amusing that a key to dark and ancient rites should survive in such innocuous-looking form.

A young fool like Freirs would probably refuse to believe it. Like the rest of his doomed kind, he'd probably expect such lore to be found only in ancient leather-bound tomes with gothic lettering and portentously sinister titles. He'd search for it in mysterious old trunks and private vaults, in the "restricted" sections of libraries, in intricately carved wood chests with secret compartments.

But there are no real secrets, the Old One knows. Secrets are ultimately too hard to conceal. The keys to the rites that will transform the world are neither hidden nor rare nor expensive. They are available to anyone. You can find them on the paperback racks or in any second-hand bookshop.”
“She took particular comfort in certain familiar sights and sounds that marked her day: the buzz of the fluorescent lights, the pale figures sprawled silent and motionless over their reading, the reassuring feel of her book cart as she wheeled it down the aisle, and the books themselves, symbols of order on their backs - young adulthood reduced to "YA," mystery reduced to a tiny red skull.” 2 likes
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