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The Ceremonies [Mass Market Paperback]

T.E.D. Klein
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jersey Devil March 7 2010
By Jonathan Stover TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Klein's one-and-only novel is not just a great horror novel -- it's a great novel in any genre. What he pulls off here is extraordinarily rare, creating a text that manages to work what can be seen as metafictional commentary on, in this case, the entire history of horror fiction into a structurally elegant and compelling horror novel populated with flawed but sympathetic characters.

Stripped to its basics, The Ceremonies tells the story of a 30ish New York City grad student in English literature whose thesis is on Gothic and horror literature, and whose life suddenly starts to resemble some of the works he's reading over the course of a summer.

Klein comes up with one of the most innovative reworkings of the "forbidden book" trope in horror fiction that I can think of. Normally, the forbidden book (say, H.P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon) is a text invented for a work of fiction which, within the world of that fiction, reveals in whole or in part the secret workings of the universe. Generally, a forbidden text is rare, dangerous even to read, and filled with knowledge that undermines all cultural norms when it comes to religion. For example, the Necronomicon reveals that all human religion is a comforting lie that obscures the true, horrifying and precarious state of humanity in a universe that is consciously hostile towards us.

But as the malign Old One muses in the novel, forbidden knowledge never stays hidden. As a character in another Klein story notes, if the Necronomicon really existed, it would be available in paperback in any book store.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A flawed masterpiece of atmospheric horror June 21 2006
By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
T.E.D. Klein entered the world of horror fiction with a great big splash when The Ceremonies was published in 1984. The novel was met with much critical success, being nominated for a 1985 World Fantasy Award and winning the British Fantasy Society award for best novel. Stephen King proclaimed it the most exciting horror novel since Peter Straub's Ghost Story. The Ceremonies really is a magnificent work of horror, but it is not for everyone. If you like action on top of action, you may find yourself bogged down and discouraged by this novel. At over 500 pages, it is rather long, and it can seem even longer than it really is to readers seeking quick thrills. Klein builds this novel quite slowly and tediously, creating an atmosphere of impending doom that grows in short increments from one page to the next. It is not the awful events that make this horror novel work; it is the atmosphere of dread and suspense. One cannot help but detect a little bit of Lovecraft in Klein (and not just because one of the characters is called the Old One), although both men's style differs considerably. The power that stands to be unleashed by the completion of "the ceremonies" described here is gargantuan, an awesome, world-destroying creature called up from the depths of the earth, a creature too ancient to even be labeled evil.

There are several storylines running through this novel, and their paths converge on only a few occasions, which is a facet of the writing that may bother some readers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars very creepy Feb. 4 2000
By cudgel
Format:Mass Market Paperback
great atmosphere of malevolence here building to a climax that, admittedly, is a letdown. not a lot happens here but the undefined evil that is impending keeps you reading. that very lovecraftian sense of dread and an unstoppable evil just kept at bay, an interesting setting and believable characters make this book, despite the limp resolution. what happened to klein, anyway? only two books and then--nothing. get back on the horse t.e.d.!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A landmark work of modern horror fiction Jan. 31 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book, as with its companion piece, Dark Gods, should have a permanent place on every horror/dark fantasy fan's book shelf. The disquieting atmosphere evoked by this book provides an inimitable reading experience that is unlike anything being written today by modern dark fantasy writers, the majority of whom seem always compelled to assault their readers with cheap, formulaic narrative. To appreciate this book you must have a natural affinity for the rich gothic literature of the 19th century and a sensitivity to dark, slow-moving drama. You cannot be a passive reader. This book is not a 'stalk-and-slash' thriller; its aesthetic merit is not found in its ability to thrill, but in its ability to inspire awe and a profound sense of disturbing unease. Read it as such and you will not be disappointed.
Other writers capable of producing brilliantly dark and disturbing prose include: Fritz Leiber, Thomas Ligotti, Thomas Tessier, and Steve Rasnic Tem.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Slightly Entertaining Jan. 5 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the first book I've read by Klein and I have to say that it was written very well. That's about it. For the most part the story was boring. Once in awhile it would pick up the pace which would soon die off. The end left me with the feeling of what the hell happened? I hope Klein's other works are better than this one.
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