This isn't a perfect book by any means, but I really enjoyed my time with it. I loved the creepy island vibes, the Filipino myths, the commentary on colonization and racism. I also loved that this was about a group of white people who go to a remote island, ignore all the warnings from local civilians, have zero respect for the culture and religion of the place, and then suffer for it by getting picked off one by one. Alon makes for a great main character, although I do think Askal the dog stole the show a little. I liked the twists and turns this story took, and was pretty satisfied with the ending.
I also really liked the inclusion of lines in Tagalog, but I've been told by a Filipina friend that the Tagalog reads a little stilted. I also looked up a few other reviews, and a Filipina reviewer also mentions the Tagalog, and goes a step further to say that it was the wrong language to use for the region the island is supposed to be located in.
I really enjoyed this book. The fact that most off this book was entered around privileged white Americans encroaching on a space that wasn't theirs to enter, ignoring all the warnings and suffering the (horrifying, supernatural) consequences was something I never thought would become a plot point I would thoroughly enjoy but I did.
This book also makes a budding queer relationship between a the son of one of the producers of the show and Alon (they/them) the local boy, with a strange connection to the island, who tries repeated to warn the Hollywood people to get off the island.
The horror element of the story was amazing written, vividly detailed and sufficiently creepy without being too much for the people who have a lower tolerance.
Also the twist! It was hinted at without being too obvious. I loved it.
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Pristine beaches, lush greenery, and perfect weather, the island of Kisapmata would be the vacation destination...if not for the curse. The Philippine locals speak of it in hushed voices and refuse to step foot on the island. They know the lives it has claimed. They won't be next.
A Hollywood film crew won't be dissuaded. Legend claims a Dreamer god sleeps, waiting to grant unimaginable powers in exchange for eight sacrifices. The producers are determined to document the evidence. And they convince Alon, a local teen with an ailing father to take care of, to be their guide.
Within minutes of their arrival, a giant sinkhole appears, revealing a giant balete tree with a mummified corpse entwined in its gnarled branches. And the crew start seeing strange visions. Alon knows they are falling victim to the island's curse. If Alon can't convince them to leave, there is no telling who will survive. Or how much the Dreamer god will destroy...
The Sacrifice is full of Filipino folklore and history and I just wanted to reach into the pages and smack all the film crew members for not heeding Alon's warnings to get off the damned cursed train wreck of an island! I don't want to give too much away - I think it's best to go in kind of blind and let the horrors unfold before you. A perfect read for spooky season!
This is a solidly spooky book with interesting mythology but aloof characters. I had a similar issue with Rin Chupeco’s Bone Witch series- their writing and world is beautiful but the characters feel at arm's length. Some of this is intentional- Alon is a mysterious protagonist- but it still hurt my immersion in the story at times.
This is really the only issue I had with the Sacrifice, so I would still recommend it. I loved having a non-binary protagonist, Chupeco’s writing, and the way issues of colonialism, historic trauma, and mythology played into the horror. It also had one of the more real feeling depictions of a social media star I’ve encountered in a book. At first, I was like “no way a hot guy tap dancing topless with a horsehead mask would go viral on tiktok” but then I realized no, that checks out. It’s just weirdly specific enough to feel like something real and also a fun jab at some of the sillier things attractive men go viral for. Chase is a himbo for the ages.
The contrast of the lush, beautiful location and the spooky happenings provided a nice tension and Chupeco excels at writing creepy imagery. I’d recommend with the caveat that the characters don’t feel as developed as the setting and scares.
Spooky, atmospheric, and scary. This book is everything you'd want for a transition read from summer to spooky season.
Thanks NetGalley for the ARC.
DNF. I wasn’t aware when requesting that this book contains violence toward animals, which is a hard trigger for me, so I won’t be reviewing at this time. Highly recommend readers check this one out for themselves as the author is extremely talented!
This was a solid YA horror story.
I am not filipino or overly familiar with the culture so I defiantly can’t lend any input on the accuracy of the lore here but I found it super interesting to read about.
On the whole this horror did a good job of creeping me out! The strange figures, that stare back in the shadows, capturing glimpses in the windows or on cameras and the sheer panic and suspense was brilliant, one night I had to put it down because I kept spooking myself!
I did find it a little hard to connect with Alon. Askal on the other hand has lots of character to make up for it.
I think Alon’s character feels a little empty because of the part he plays and I did enjoy the developments with Chase. However there are many character to keep track of and a fair few didn’t feel overtly necessary to the story. I would have preferred more of the main character developments.
I did love the inclusion and diversity of the characters very much.
Scene setting was good and atmospheric suspense was great!
If you want a spooky, LGBTQIA+ Friendly, Southeast Asian inspire folk lore tale, this one is for you!
When I got the notification that I was approved for Rin Chupeco's The Sacrifice I was ecstatic! I love all things horror and this book is putting me on the right path to a great spooky fall.
I want to start this by saying that I am not Filipino, I am Mexican, so I can not speak to how accurate the portrayal of the folklore being used, the language, or anything else about the Filipino culture is. If there is anything that I misspeak about in this post, please let me know. I am always open to listening to learning from other POCs. I am open to conversation, let me know what you didn't like, what I got wrong, and what I can do better. Thank you.
As many might already know is that I am a huge horror fan. I love all things that go bump in the night and this story was exactly what I needed to get out of a slump and begin looking forward to the spooky Fall season.
The story starts quickly with Alon being approached, or rather yelled at, by the American film crew that has set up camp on the island of Kisapmata as they look for someone to help act as a tour guide for them. Everyone else that they have previously to do so absolutely refuses due to the curse that inhabits the island. Alon having a sickly father to care for and being well acquainted with the island, agrees.
"Tay was delighted when I'd told him about my new job. The money would be good. The Americans knew the risks. It's not my fault they won't listen, and it's not on me to protect them."
Right off the bat, weird things begin to happen and Alon tries to warn this film crew to leave before someone ends up hurt or dead. I'm not spoiling anything when I say that you get told that not is what it seems on this island. Something is happening but is it for the show? Are the people who live in the surrounding areas in on the joke? Are they just trying to terrorize the Americans off the island?
As the story progresses I enjoyed watching everyone try to make logical excuses for things, as is the par for horror in general, and ignoring the advice of someone who literally knows better. I also love that this book tackled the colonization and exploitation of countries for entertainment. When Alon first meets with the Americans, he warns them that they should not be on the island at all, they laugh and simply say that they have permission to be there since they filed the right permits.
"The smile Goatee shoots my way is patronizing. "Kid," he says, as the sounds of digging outside resume,"we're just filming a TV show. We have permission." "
It made me think of how murder tourism is a thing that has also given a rise in recent years with the uptick of popularity in true crime and I like that the book talked about those issues. The Americans destroy what they can to make themselves comfortable and insist that they have every right to be there. Of course, not all of them are that way but as it is with "Hollywood types" they have "the power," and even threaten Alon sometimes of firing him.
" "Regale us with your scary stories. You do want money for your father's treatment, right? Is fishing going to be enough to support you both if we fire you?"
I look around, at the smiling faces, the amusement in their eyes. This is how Americans make threats, I think. "
As much as we see the Americans try to reconcile trying to keep their job going, stay sane and figure out what is real or not, we also see Alon trying to understand these people and their way of life. Everyone is on this island for various reasons and he tries to navigate around their personalities and why are there. One person he finds a liking to is an intern who he finds strange is doing the work for free as she tries to explain what an intern does.
""They pay us in connections, in introductions to bigger names who can poach us for positions with actual salaries. I live with my folks, so I don't need to pay rent. I'm lucky. I know people who'd be better at the work than me but can't afford the job."
It is a strange thing to say, to afford a job. "
As things get stranger and more dangerous, you see Alon clearly try to protect those that he feels don't deserve to be hurt. I don't want to say more out of fear of ruining anything.
The story moves at a steady pace letting you get used to everything around you before pulling the rug out from underneath you. It has a couple of twists and turns, some that you may see coming, some that you might not. The only thing that I did not like about this story was the romantic subplot, it just felt a little forced to me but loved the representation it brought nonetheless.
This is a perfect read for fans of movies like The Ritual, Apostle, and Grave Encounters.
Special thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
The story is a solid YA haunted island story that has a surprising amount of heart in its lead character.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!