Cover Image: The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Hollywood shifts its lens, zooming in the paradise island in the Philippines for a documentary series poised to uncover the secrets of a brooding local legend. The island Kisapmata is home to a cave dubbed the Godseye where a slumbering god is believed to grant gifts to those who pays instrument to the sacrifices needed for its awakening – a series of eight specific deaths. Unnerving as it is, the island has more to keep as it claimed more lives than it has to veiling the curse thicker than meets the eye.

Willing to turn every rock to score a smash hit, the documentary crew is accompanied by Alon, a young fisherfolk who lives within the island’s vicinity, to guide through the thick enigma in the island’s lore. The island irks at its trespassers, baiting them in its caverns, woods, and shoreline. The curious gets lured into quick-paced events that unearths the something they expected and didn’t. Something nefarious watches and Alon might be in on the secret.

I am no stranger to Rin Chupeco’s books, but this is huge turnaround from their usual complex magic systems in fantastical worlds in the likes of The Bone Witch trilogy and Hundred Names of Magic series. It’s my first encounter with their in the horror-mystery genre and I can say that it hit the mark for me. This is probably me with some bias being also a Filipino but Chupeco is adept at stringing elements of Philippine culture and mythology and gives breath to exciting stories out of them. It’s nice to see their take on the balete tree (god tree Infinite Tsukoyomi vibes), which is central to popular ghost stories, as well, as rural folklores on rituals and diwatas.

Although the heart of the prose is the mystery that is the Godseye, Chupeco’s characters are well-written and adds humanity to the already enigmatic fantasy. It grounds the story depicted in their character’s real-life colloquy while facing the dilemma presented by the island. I jump for joy for non-binary representation in Alon. Unlike the usual headstrong or sometimes self-doubting YA characters, there is a serene, self-assuredness in them that I admire. Even the docu-crew members, weighed by their fears, greed, and regret, have skeletons in the close to unpack. It scrutinizes human frailty, and the extent people would do to gain power. Moreso, it jabs at the effects of colonialism and the western media seen from the lens of the characters local and foreign. Apathy is never an option here as the reader will, without reluctance, root for someone’s safety or demise.

While the story is fast-paced and keeps you on edge, somewhere about two-thirds point, the dialogue felt a tinge weaker most likely due to the repetitive nature of the discourse about the Diwata. I probably wanted more elements thrown in, more red herring perhaps. I just think that the twists were straight forward and would have wanted some fresh take in that department. Nonetheless, the clues carefully plotted throughout were seamlessly wrapped up at the end.

What I appreciated most is that this brand of horror is not the jump-scare or theatrics-for-impact kind of book. Chupeco skillfully brewed elements that upshots a disturbingly eerie atmosphere. Besides the graphic description of violence and body horror, it’s the feeling that something sinister is watching you that makes it even more unnerving. I kept staring at my window, beyond trees when I was reading this. It’s one that crawls under your skin and hyper-activates your senses.

I am not sure if “enjoyed” is the right term, but it was good time reading this. If you are up for books on isolated islands that will leave you unsettled, gripped by insidious creeping vines, The Sacrifice is one that should grace your shelves.
Was this review helpful?
I'm so disappointed in this book.

Please believe me when I say I was SO excited when I saw that Rin Chupeco (Rin Chupeco!) is coming out with a new book, and it was a horror, AND it involved creatures of Filipino folklore! I grew up a wistful kid in the Philippines who read tales of Filipino myth. I devoured them. I loved reading about the duwendes (akin to fae, who are mischievous at best and murderous at worst - to appease them, you have to show respect when passing by old trees and caves), aswangs (ghoul-ish monsters who felt like a cross between a vampire, a witch, and a fiend), and even more. Listen, Filipino folklore is GNARLY. It's absolutely terrifying, and I have long long awaited for someone to write a story featuring these creatures that stalked my nightmares as a kid.

The Sacrifice should've been my favorite read of the year. Sadly, I really didn't get along with it. Having these creatures in a book alone isn't going to make it my favorite. I struggled to connect with the characters; our main character didn't feel like they had a "character." Besides being the resident expert on all things leering about in ye olde nature, he didn't feel like a real person. There were too many characters to keep track of, and it wasn't helped by the fact that they kept being referred to by either their first or last names (or nicknames like "Armani" that came out of the blue). I didn't feel any atmosphere or tension; no sense of tingling excitement that I normally get when going back home. I just felt nothing.

So yes... I really struggle with this. It really sucks, because Chupeco is an author I was really excited to try out, and this would've been the perfect introduction. If you're a fan of Chupeco, this may still be worth checking out (I couldn't say, I haven't read her other books to compare!) but unfortunately it's a pass for my personal bookshelf.
Was this review helpful?
Rin Chupeco is a talented writer and although The Sacrifice didn't quite do it for me I know that fans of Asian folklore and mythology as well as suspense and horror will enjoy this book
Was this review helpful?
deliciously creepy and pacefully plot-driven - this book would have made for an entertaining, funnily enough, Hollywood movie. i rated this 3 stars out of personal reference because (1) i'm a character-driven reader and (2) the first 40% of this legit made me lose sleep at night. 

 i have nothing more to add except that i enjoyed reading about the lore of Kisapmata as well as Chupeco's insightful exploration of the human nature - how humans are indeed foolish creatures but foolishness is also what makes us humans; it's a feature, not a bug. forgiveness and growth over cancel culture and all that. Alon, our MC, is a wonderful example of this. they are also incredibly endearing and, without spoiling too much, the perfect narrator for this story. Askal, the dog, is a second close favourite and no, this is not That kind of horror stories. you'll find Askal safe and happy in the end :) (Chase has rights too, i guess)

while reading, i couldn't help but compare this book to a certain new release in which colonialism also figures prominently. i learned to appreciate Chupeco more because this book doesn't rub me raw in the face about how "colonizer = bad" and "white people = racist" and refuses to go further than that. the Sacrifice certainly packs a punch but there are so many nuances threaded into that punch - you'll have something to chew on for later.
Was this review helpful?
I unfortunately couldn't get into this one. I don't know if it is a just me thing or what but it just wasn't for me. However, it has amazing reviews so I think everyone should still check it out.
Was this review helpful?
As a Filipino reader, I rarely find books depicting my history, culture, and lore.

The Sacrifice is an automatic favorite right when I started this book because I easily immerse myself in its world.

Love seeing representation in all genres and Rin Chupeco once again delivered with this one.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this! This is a really fun addition to the YA horror genre, and I loved that there was LGBTQ rep in here. I enjoyed the atmosphere and tone in this book a lot--it was creepy without being so over the top that it was cheesy. I also found myself really enjoying the characterization of the 'villain', which is not something I find myself usually enjoying in a story, but the villain in this was so well done. I do wish the ending had wrapped up a little bit differently, but I still had a really good time with this work.
Was this review helpful?
First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on Netgalley. Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.

After loving their Girl from the Well duology, I jumped at the chance of reading more Chupeco in the same vein. And mind you, this isn't a bad book by any means, but alas, it left me wanting more. The natural horror was both creepy and enjoyable (in a dark way of course 😉), but it didn't spook me as much as its ghostly counterpart in TGFTW did. The romance was a bit too fast and casual, because really, pretty much the only thing these two teens have in common is that they're both good-looking and queer (I did love that aspect though, and the way no one, not even the cynical and or/evil Hollywood people, stomps on their rainbow hearts. They're queer, and it is what it is). The big reveal at the end didn't come as a surprise for me, because it's not like the author did much to cover their tracks in that respect - there's a significant void in the narrative that caused my antennae to go up more than a whole bunch of red herrings would have...Regardless, I liked the open, sort of poetical (if ominous) ending.
I think the worst thing I can say about The Sacrifice is that it doesn't bring much novelty to the table - though the core idea (the one that coincides with the reveal) is really cool. It will probably work better as an introduction to horror for newbies/casual readers of the genre than as an addition to a seasoned horror reader's library...which I happen to be 🙂.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Sacrifice in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Gist
You know what? I’m kind of tired writing these negative, or shall we say unfavourable reviews. There have been a lot of them lately.

So, here I am, excited to start Rin Chupeco’s newest story. I loved her Bone Witch trilogy and Never Tilting World duology, but there was something missing in The Sacrifice.

The Details
I loved the premise, the setting, the contradiction between such a beautiful location and the terrible things that happen on the island.

It was impossible for me to connect with either the story as a whole or the characters.

The story is narrated from a local’s point of view. When they refer to any of the other characters, they give them nicknames, such as “Armani” or “straw hat”. Yet, in conversations the characters’ real names are mentioned, making it very difficult to figure out who is who.

Also, I assume the author wanted to make reveal of the mystery of the evil on the island a slow burn, because we barely get any kind of information of what makes this island so bad.

For a long time it is eluded to that they should leave the island, since it is not safe. But why? Give us something!

I started to not care about the mystery and the horror.

Everything is kept so at a distance that I couldn’t fully immerse myself in the story. I felt like I was hovering above it and try as I might, I was unable to connect to any of it.

The Verdict
Overall, sadly this couldn’t satisfy my itch for a good horror story.

Generally speaking, I do enjoy Chupeco’s writing. I still have the second part of Never Tilting World to finish, which I hope I can start soon.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely loved this book, and think it is an excellent entry into the YA horror genre!  Releasing October 4th (NEXT MONTH AHHHH) dive into this young adult novel of horror, fantasy, and spooks galore! Featuring both LGBTQ representation and East Asian folklore, Rin Chupeco’s work had me pulled in from start to finish. The main character is both mysterious and compelling, the plot is all too believable and the villain is entirely compelling. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Rin Chupeco, and am so grateful to netgalley, Rin Chupeco, and sourcebooksfire for allowing me to read this ARC!
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely loved "The Sacrifice." It was creepy but not over the top. I enjoyed the twists that came about as I was not expecting such things to even happen. I loved the queer representation and how it was simply just part of the story and not a big deal. I also really love the cover, it is gorgeous yet creepy, exactly how the island in the story is represented.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC!

This one was so scary! The descriptions were beautiful and I love the nonbinary/LGBT representation throughout. The ending left my disappointed, but I think that was because the rest of the book was going full speed ahead with all of the horror and suspense that any ending would have felt weird. This was my first Chupeco and it won't be my last!
Was this review helpful?
A creepy, gripping and visceral story that is so timely and poignant. I really enjoyed this one and cannot wait to talk about it with my peers!
Was this review helpful?
Horror rooted in colonialism always slaps for me. If you're a fan of the adventure horror genre, where a bunch of dumb white people go to some far-off location with zero respect for local folklore and beliefs and get unalived for their troubles, this is the book for you. Rin Chupeco's grasp of evoking a creepy, spine-tingling, absolutely unsettling atmosphere remains unparalleled.

However, one star docked because the island where the novel takes place is located in Leyte where the language spoken is Waray or Binisaya, and for some reason the language used by the Filipino characters is Tagalog - couldn't let that one go.
Was this review helpful?
Love it chilling intresting twisted read. 
If you any of rin books then you gonna love it awesome.Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Was this review helpful?
The small, uninhabited island of Kisapmata in the Philippines is known to the locals to be the home of the god, Diwata.  Diwata controls the island and it is believed that he will awaken after eight sacrifices.  Locals stay away from the island except for local caretaker, Alon.  Everything is about to change though as a Hollywood documentary crew has bought their way onto Kisapmata.  The crew members each have a different motivation for being on the island, but Diwata knows their true purpose. Alon tries to keep those who are innocent safe and warn away those that the Diwata deems worthy of sacrifice.  

The Sacrifice is a young adult thriller that jumps right into the action and doesn't let up.  I was drawn into the story as Diwata immediately shows power by moving plants around, manifesting people from the production crew's lives and showing them exactly what they came for, including corpse trees.  The mystery builds as we learn the history of the island with stolen treasure, deaths, sacrifices, cults and local lore. Alon's character was amazing and a mystery himself.  I was intrigued by his communication with Diwata and his acceptance on the island.  I loved that he and Chase formed a connection and that Diwata was interested in it.  Throughout the entire story there was a constant feeling of 'what's next?' and 'that can't be good!'  that kept me in suspense.  Overall, a great blend of Philippine folklore, suspense and horror. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with this egalley ahead pf publication.

Chupeco builds an eerie, spine-chilling mystery that leaves the most startling bread crumbs for the reader to follow. The structure was awesome. I loved the writing.

Alon and Askal are excellent protagonists as they try to guide the production crew of this exploratory documentary series away from danger and mayhem in the island of Kisapmata. Chase wasn't quite as diverting as either of them. I waited for him to rise to their level in terms of characterization and he doesn't. Consequently, the quasi relationship that allegedly formed between him and Alon was a non-starter for me personally. In fact, the whole thing with Chase and his dad flopped for me, but I think that's a matter of personal taste.

In any event, the final reveal was totally cool. The story was creepy and horrifying. Just the right amount of body horror. Four stars!
Was this review helpful?
A haunted island demanding sacrifices, a Hollywood TV crew ready to exploit anyone for a dime (retreading Colonialism), and a cast of characters that are enjoyable to read about? Sign me up! THE SACRIFICE has a "Strangers Things" quality going on, especially when it comes to the mystery of the island and the people connections throughout. It has consistent pacing, but it does read somewhat slower than I would have expected for most of the the book. But that gives Rin Chupeco the platform to really hit us with the East Asian folklore, mythology, and horror of this story. This is quintessential "F around and find out" and, well, these people F'd around and found out! The island itself is such a cool setting and Chupeco really sets the scene wonderfully and as spookily as possible!
Was this review helpful?
The Ruins meets Stranger Things is exactly what this book is!

I  thoroughly creeped myself out reading this and then staring too long at all the trees in my backyard! I really loved the setting of a deserted island in the Philippines and the tour guide who kept saying nothing but "bad things are going to happen --leave now"

Excellent spookiness, a great dog character, a non-binary character, an excellent cover and an ominous ending. 

Definitely check The Sacrifice out!
Was this review helpful?
We have an island with a legendary sleeping God who requires 8 sacrifices in order to awake. Enter a Hollywood film crew who want to film a documentary type TV show of the island's lore and history. Have I mentioned that there was a cult on this island and a plane crash nearby? The cult that killed a pregnant woman for one of the sacrifices. Yep. Only one of the locals agree to help the crew as a guide, no one else would set foot on it. The crew arrives and stuff starts happening right from the start. Like, a dead body in a tree type of stuff. 
The characters, wow. They were incredible. Almost all of them despicable human beings but so excellently written. And with complexity as well. Because, see, a majority of them were not truly evil. They were just people who did bad things. Basically, the environment is what made them. But being on this island, coming face to face with their sins, most of them show conscience and repent. The contrast was also so fascinating:one one hand the locals who do not really care for money, and the film crew on the other hand, to whom money is everything. They buy their way on the island, expect to buy the locals. And then they come across something they cannot buy their way from.
This is a horror book but I didn't find it particularly scary though. Maybe that's just me, I don't know. Also, the pacing slowed down towards the end. Oh, and the ending is not my favorite type, I like solid endings, not open ones.
But you should definitely read it for the characters, the writing, the culture and the representation (LGBTQIA+).
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?