Cover Image: The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice

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Member Reviews

A creepy and darkly atmospheric read that made me glad I had chosen to read it during the day. The island setting and the descriptions of the tree creatures were jaw-dropping and gasp worthy. This was a horror book that didn't shy away from people who had bad things getting punished in horrifying ways. I enjoyed this one, it was the perfect amount of spooky and creepy without making me utterly terrified. Great book!
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If you're a fan of island that are seriously Not Okay (I see you, Lost fans), this is the horror book for you. Steeped in Filipino folklore, THE SACRIFICE is both a participant in and a critique of that classic (often highly questionable) horror plot: a bunch of white people land on a beautiful island oasis, with no respect for the local people or reverence for their customs and beliefs, and don't live to regret it. 

Though more action driven than the kind of creeping dread horror that will keep you up at night, THE SACRIFICE is well written, and some of the vividly depicted horror scenes will stick with readers long after they finish reading. 

And it's delightfully queer! With a nonbinary lead, a bisexual love interest, and several queer side characters.

So if all of the above is your cup of scary tea, be sure to add THE SACRIFICE to your reading list.
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I really enjoyed this haunted island story, featuring white folks who never learn. Could have given it a full score if not for that cringey contrived "relationship" between the two main characters.
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Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC via NetGalley for an honest review. 

CWs: mild gore, death, corpses, sacrifice, mentions of infidelity, mentions of sexual assault, mentions of murder and suicide, plane crash (off-page, historical, evidence found on-page)

This was a great read for spooky season! The spooky nature of the legend of the island was crafted really well, and the author’s writing style was super readable. I didn’t want to put the book down while I was reading, and I got completely sucked in. I felt like I was on the island with the characters watching and waiting for the next creepy thing to happen. 
Alon was an interesting character. Mentioning at one point that they identify more as non-binary, there are no corrections for anyone who uses he/him pronouns towards them. Alon’s connection with the island was really intriguing, and I liked the relationship between Alon and Chase that formed throughout the story. I liked that even while this scary and horrifying stuff was beginning to happen, there was some lightness with Chase’s friends encouraging him to talk to and flirt with Alon. Alon and Chase were the innocents among the guilty members of the Hollywood crew on the island with them. 
The idea of a Hollywood ghost adventure type show was cool, and I thought the author did a good job of creating an atmosphere for the island that was spooky and also potentially manufactured. This was just a really interesting read. It was easy to get lost in, and there were so many exciting moments. The mystery of the Diwata and the island was captivating and the characters helped bring everything to life.
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The Sacrifice by Rin Chupeco was everything that I could have hoped for. It is chock full of horror, gruesome death scenes, evil in a multitude of forms, and much more. All of these are attributes that I expect from a Chupeco novel. 

The Sacrifice is written around one of my newly discovered favorite tropes - filming a television show/documentary when everything starts to go horribly wrong. Beware the Dreamer god who sleeps because once they wake nothing will be the same and not everyone will make it out alive. Alon, our main character, plays the island guide and tries to warn the crew of their impending doom, but a variety of disasters stands in between their escape from the island. 

I think one of my favorite aspects of this book is the diversity of culture and mythology that Chupeco gives us as readers. It felt both familiar and so uniquely written that I was lost in the world of the island. Additionally, the fun historical context that was added gave it a little something extra that I found myself drawn too as well. I think that this book is fast-paced and has something to offer readers of any age. Check this book out today! You won't regret it.
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3.5 rounded up to 4.
Pristine beaches, lush greenery, and perfect weather, the island of Kisapmata would be the vacation destination...if not for the curse. The Filipino 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, 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...

Chupeco has a really distinctive style and creates interesting and intriguing characters that are hard not to either love or hate and The Sacrifice is full of many of these. The storyline is full of mystery and tension and kept me guessing what was going to happen next… but more importantly… who would be next!

I really enjoy the way Chupeco uses traditional culture, history and mythology in her writing to add a sense of realism to her spooky tales and it’s fun learning new things about cultures I normally wouldn’t be exposed to.

My only qualm with The Sacrifice is that the plot kind of dragged towards the end and I would have liked a snappier, more impactful ending. Overall though, very enjoyable.
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Very fun read if you enjoy haunted islands, Hollywood and an animal companion. Enjoyed the imagery and overall unsettling atmosphere it gave. Short chapters which is also a plus. A lot of action, humor and hard to put down.
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I’d love to interview Rin for my podcast. I’m not usually a fan of horror but I loved The Sacrifice. Rin’s prose is beautiful and the world -building really pulls you in.
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Thanks to Sourcebooks for the DRC of the book!

If I have to rate this book for the setting, I’ll give it 5 stars, closing my eyes.

This book is set on a fictional island, Kisapmata, warned not to explore. The warnings never worked for the cultists before; or the present Hollywood crew, who were dead set on filming a horror documentary on the island. The curse around the island didn’t faze them either; it only fueled their anticipation to pursue the supernatural.

Like any other horror story with a curse, it was a catalyst to push the plot forward. This book opens with a curse that entails 8 sacrifices to awaken the god, who is supposedly asleep in the island. The curse keeps slipping into the story, often reminding us of the clock ticking for those on the island who didn’t heed the warnings.

One person who could roam around the island well was our MC, Alon. He and his dog were familiar with the island and were favored by Diwata. He agreed to help the crew film their documentary and was the only local source willing to speak about the island.

This story is heavily built around the lore of balete trees which are native to Philippines. Those trees seem to have a reputation for real ( source: google) and were extremely creepy in the book. I was thrilled to see what role they played in the curse and eventually in the story.

The curse we stumble upon has been since the Spaniards came to the island to colonize and loot the treasure hidden there. The sacrifices didn't happen in a stretch- they were dated back to centuries, decades to the present, a continuum of time. The curse also affected those who were remotely related to the crew members on the island.

It was interesting to read how the crew members interpreted the curse. Ultimately, their greed and ambitions instigated the actions to fulfill the curse and made it everything more sinister.

This one's just my opinion. The venus fly trarp monster is a netflix trademark, overused in horror series and movies, so I wanted the monsters to be anything but that.

We  also had a good 50-65% of the book familiarizing us the setting and the curse but the actual ball drops around 70% where things become gruesome. It would have been better if it happened halfway than saving it to the last quarter of the book.

But overall, this was one fine atmospheric standalone that was not bone-chilling terrifying but it had its moments; a prime candidate for your Halloween tbr.
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This book is better and more nuanced than I exprcted-- a refreshing and critical take on the tradition in western literature of commodifying other cultutes and turning everything sacred for profit and entertainment-- but it's all wrapped up in a creepy YA novel. Very well done
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When a film crew from the United States arrives on Kisapmata, a deserted island in the Philippines, they are ready to get to work. They need their new show to be a success and with the content they're after, it should be. For me it was easy to picture this crew and their motivations. I was thinking something around the lines of Discovery shows such as The Curse of Oak Island, or The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. You know the type of show I mean.

The thing with Kisapmata island is that a God is reputed to live within the island. He goes by different names, some consider him a Death God, some call him the Dreamer, but he is said to have the ability to grant unknowable power in exchange for eight, very specific, sacrifices. Because of this legend, locals avoid the island as much as they can. It's uninhabited and while they do have knowledge and respect of it, they tend to give the God his space.

The crew does discover one local teen, Alon, said to have a special relationship with the island. They're a bit of a caretaker, spending a lot of time there and even maybe communing with the God. Considered an expert of all things Kisapmata, the film crew are delighted when Alon agrees to stay with them and be their guide during the show.

As they settle in and begin to set up, a giant sinkhole appears in the middle of their camp. In it, belying logic, is a giant balete tree with a mummified corpse wrapped amongst it creepy-as-heck branches. It's like the corpse has been feeding the tree for years, but who is it and more importantly, how the heck is this tree growing underground?

Thus begins the horror that is this little island. From there stuff escalates real quick. The crew needs to get their story, but is the payoff going to be worth it?

People start seeing things, visions of people long dead and it seems nowhere is safe. As a storm rages offshore, they lose communication and have no means of escape. Is anyone going to get off this island alive?

Y'all, y'all, y'all! First of all, this is the perfect time of year to pick up this book. This story has almost everything you need for a phenomenal reading experience. 

We have detailed and fascinating legends. We have, basically a curse. We have a dynamic film crew with well-fleshed out characters. We have a nonbinary main character. We have inclement weather trapping our cast at a remote location. We have atmosphere for days. We have stunning, toe-curling horror imagery. We have scenes that will make you sleep with the lights on. 

The tension builds very quickly and then continues to build. It's claustrophobic, it's a bit panic inducing, it's scary. I will say that the pace increases so much towards the end, that it almost got a bit too chaotic. I found it more difficult to track what was happening towards the end and challenging to picture in my mind all that was happening. Hence, it's not quite a 5-star for me.

That is 100% personal taste though, for many people, whose minds possibly work more quickly than my own, this will be a 5-star experience.

I have only read one other Rin Chupeco, The Girl from the Well, and I was super-impressed with the eeriness of that story as well. Chupeco definitely has the gift for horror. I would consider this to be a more-modern, YA-South Pacific version of The Ruins.

The Sacrifice is super-chilling and will stick with me for a long time to come. Chupeco truly knows how to set a scene. I had so much fun with this. 10-out-of-10 recommend!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Now I need to go back and devour Chupeco's backlist!!
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I'll start by saying that I loved the creepy island vibes, the Filipino myths, and the commentary on racism. This book had so many twists and turns, I really enjoyed myself reading, also I'd die for the dog.

I love when books incorporate different languages and this book had pieces of Tagalog, but as I don't read the language I can't speak on if it was accurate. Maybe look up reviews by actual Filipino reviewers if you want to see more about that. Overall I liked the spooky vibes and I would recommend it.
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Initially the set up for this book really intrigued me. However, the pacing was completely off for me. Every time an fast paced action scene happened, I felt so lost and like I had to run to catch up. There were moments where something big happened, like a character going missing, and I had no idea because I could not keep up with what was going on. Fortunately, it was a really fast read so it was easy to keep reading. The pacing really through me off, and I ended up not caring about what happened.
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I really wanted to like this one because I love Rin Chupeco's writing, however, I did not like this one. I couldn't connect with any of the characters and I didn't love the perspective that it was written in. I will be continuing to read from this author in the future and I hope that other people like this one more than I did.
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Defying warnings from locals, a Hollywood crew descends on Kisapmata, a remote island in the Philippines, to film a TV series about legends of a sleeping god and the cult that used human sacrifice to try to wake it. Alon knows Kisapmata better than anyone, and agrees to help the crew in the hopes of preventing anyone from getting hurt, cautioning the crew that the legends are true. The sins of the producers and executives begin to catch up with them, and the trees are hungry. Scary and engrossing, Rin Chupecho again creates a horror story that grips the reader and refuses to let go. An excellent read!
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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.
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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.

If you are looking for more reviews from me, check out my YouTube channel here :
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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!
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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.
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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.
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