Religion and horror go naturally together. Perhaps that’s something I instinctively knew as a child, or perhaps it’s something only mature eyes see. It’s clearly true, however. While reading about The Wicker Man lately I felt compelled to read David Pinner’s 1967 novel Ritual, upon which the movie is loosely based. In many cases it is better to read the book before seeing the film. In other cases the movie ends up being the superior project. I had to keep on reminding myself as I read the novel that it couldn’t be measured against a superior vision of what it could have been. Having written seven novels myself (all unpublished) I hope that I have a sense of the process. Unless you’re into the commercial side of things you don’t write for the movie potential—you have a story to share and this is your way of telling it.
The novel isn’t bad. It’s written in a punchy style that I don’t really enjoy, but the story drew me in. It almost wasn’t to be. Like many novels of this era, print copies are difficult to find. Those available on used book websites, or even on Amazon, probably because of rights agreements, sell for over $200. That’s a bit much, considering that over two dollars per page is excessive for a novel. I finally had to cave and get a Kindle version. I don’t have a Kindle, but I have the software on my computer. Reading it again reminded me of how superior a print book is to an electronic one. Reading ebooks tends to be faster but like eating snack food, doesn’t really satisfy you.
At one point the navigation function stopped. Confused, I couldn’t go any further in the story and wondered if I’d reached a sudden but unexpected end. With a physical book I could’ve paged ahead to find out. In this case, with the controls frozen with that obdurate computer attitude, I had to find another way to make the illusion of reading continue. I eventually got it going again after clicking here and there, but reminded myself again that ebooks should only be the last resort. As for the story itself, it was okay. I read it as a parable about intolerant religion. I’m not sure it was intended that way, but it certainly seems like a reasonable interpretation. It ends differently than the movie does, so I won’t put any spoilers here in case you decide to spring $200 to get a used copy.