Cover Image: The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice

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Member Reviews

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!
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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.
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The Sacrifice by Rin Chupeco. Sourcebooks, 2022. 
Thank you Sourcebooks for providing an e-book through NetGalley, as well as an ARC paperback through the Youth Services Book Review sites, run by Massachusetts Librarians. All of my opinions are my own. 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Format: ARC Paperback and NetGalley E-book. 
Genre: Horror
Kisapmata. A beautiful island in the Philipines full of legend, danger, and horrors. The natives refuse to talk about it, and they definitely won’t go near it. But that doesn’t stop a Hollywood crew from setting up film equipment on the paradisal island. Hoping to create the next big hit, the crew’s goal is to film the island’s mysterious legends, especially about the sleeping god who needs eight sacrifices to awaken. The one native that decided to venture with the crew is Alon, a nonbinary Philippine eighteen-year-old who holds more secrets than they let on. Told from their perspective, Alon watches as the Hollywood crew stumbles deeper into hostile territory, uncovering ancient lore meant to be hidden. When a sinkhole appears in the middle of the camp, revealing a twisted corpse entwined with a balete tree, the true horror of the island finally reveals itself. Can the crew escape the wrath of an ancient god, or have they already sealed their fates? Only Alon knows. 
What did you like about the book?
The Sacrifice is a chilling horror novel, set against the backdrop of Philippine lore and legends. Alon is a secretive protagonist, not necessarily lying to the audience, but obviously hiding crucial information, both to the Hollywood crew and to the readers. It’s an interesting perspective because you see these non-native, money-focused Westerners slowly begin to understand the great danger they have intruded upon, and their true characters begin to surface. Alon develops different relationships with each crew member, especially with another teenager with Chase, who develops feelings for Alon. Rin Chupeco’s newest story is horrifying as it is riveting, as you will not put the book down until you know each character’s fate. 
Anything you didn’t like about it? No.
Personal Bias? No. Even though I love the genre, horror is either well done, corny/trope-y, or bad. Luckily, this falls in the first category. 
To whom would you recommend this book?  Anyone who likes supernatural horror, and secretive narrators. It is similar to the adult book Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, but set in the Philippines and for teenagers, or similar to any horror movie where the investigative TV crew gets more than what they’ve bargained for (like in Grave Encounters, 2011). For high schools and public libraries. 
Laila Carter, Cheltenham Township Library System, PA
Today’s Date: September 11, 2022
Publication of Review: 
May 13th, 2022 (YSBR website) 
October 7th, 2022 (Stories Steeped in Magic, Blog to be up 9/12/2022)
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I don't even know where to start with this book because everything about it was magical. I read it in one sitting. This book is the definition of "colonizers fuck around and find out' plus its GAYYY!!! Rin Chupeco is such a master storyteller and I will read everything she writes.
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This was a fantastic book! Absolutely creepy in parts, it’s a definite page-turner that will keep readers guessing. The reveal at the end was surprising and incredibly satisfying. Highly recommend!
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I loved this, honestly. I chose this one because I was in the mood for archeological horror, which this seemed to be based on the description, so it was a wonderful surprise that it also turned out to be Lovecraftian! For those into comparisons to help them choose what to read next, The Sacrifice is a bit like The Ruins meets At the Mountains of Madness. Existential dread and gore.

The only reason I'm giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 is that, while Rin Chupeco is a good writer, I found myself confused at times by descriptions, or lack of descriptions. The plot moves along quickly and the story is overall a quick read so I wish that there was just a bit more fleshed out in some of the chapters, especially near the end. And that is my other reason for removing a star - it ends quite abruptly.

But I experienced some good scares and decent writing, so in the end I'm happy! If you're looking for some cosmic horror (especially some that's not quite so white), you won't be disappointed with this one.
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Dark but not too much so. Just the right amount of creepy. Absolutely love everything this author writes! The twist caught me off guard and was well written.
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Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the advanced copy. Below is my honest review.

I was really in the mood for a good horror novel, and this one fit the bill.

Deep in the wilds of the Philippines lies a mysterious island, said to be cursed and home to a god, waiting for sacrifices to awaken and remake the world. Young Alon and their dog are the only locals willing to step foot on this island, full of things seen only out of the corner of the eye, so when a film crew swoops in to make a documentary of the sordid history of strange occurrences and deaths, Alon steps in to help guide them in an attempt to quell the spirits of the island's desires.  Thing is, not everyone who came along is there to be respectful, and inner demons will clash with outer ones in this dark tale of secrets and judgment.

Also really liked the multiple forms of representation in this book. It was really well done. 

I just wanted a little bit more, so four and a half stars, rounded to four.

Definitely still impressed with this one, and absolutely want to pick up more of this author's works.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for letting me read this arc early in exchange for my honest review. 

I had so much fun reading this book. It started off a bit slow for me but it was incredible, immersive and spooky when it did start picking up the pace. The characters were so endearing, even the ones I hated. I loved how the story unfolded and the Filipino/East Asian folklore and language featured throughout really helped me feel even more connected to the story. I fully plan to read everything from this author from now on. 

If you’re looking for an immersive, supernatural horror with East Asian folklore, a tropical setting, ghosts, gifs and a queer romance… I highly recommend The Sacrifice.
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Thank you, NetGalley and Sourcebooks for providing me with a digital arc of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Chupeco’s The Sacrifice is a strongly written YA horror novel providing a commentary on the effects of colonialism and commercialized Westernization (enforced via Hollywood film crews) preying on and exposing indigenous cultures and practices. However, this time, an ancient legend is doing its part to help fight back. 

In what feels like an homage to the “found footage” cinematic technique, readers follow local teen Alon and the film crew to the island of Kisapmata that many Philippine locals refuse to step foot on. Chupeco paints a clear contrast between the immediate and noticeable beauty of the island and the dark occurrences on the island. Overall, the characters were great and the narrative is wonderfully written

My only critique is that at times the plot moves very slow. However, it can be argued this helped to build the tension up for a gratifying denouement! I haven’t read other works by this author, but I want to check out their other works ASAP.
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I learned 2 things about myself having read this book:
1. Rin Chupeco is one of my new favorite authors
2. The isolated island horror trope is now a favorite of mine as well. 

This was a really enjoyable read. The author kept up the tension, mystery and creep factor throughout the whole book and even managed to put a couple great twists in there too. 

The characters weren't incredibly deep, but, the reader is given just enough detail to understand everyone's motivation for being on that island. And the paranormal force which drives the story, leaves you questioning what it truly is and what it wants up until the very end. 

A great creepy read! I look forward to reading more from this author! 5⭐️
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This book is categorized as horror and I know horror is a subjective feeling, but the reason why this book doesn't feel like a horror book to me is because of the lack of tension in the narrative and writing style. No one has any personality among all of these people in the island and the reveals and sightings and overall weird shits happening are so bland and just there. I am so disappointed because I have hyped this book so much in my head because of the beautiful cover and the very interesting premise. However, I could care less for the actual writing and narration.
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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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A legendary island notorious for curses and missing people and human sacrifices becomes the set for a Hollywood film crew in this tale of you-dumb-people-shoulda-left-well-enough-alone.  Mysterious local, teenage Alon, becomes the guide for the documentary team, which is headed up by their fearless leader, a reality show survivalist who is hell-bent on making a comeback. Or is there more to it than that? Everyone is a bit more, or a lot more on this island where mysterious things breathe and move and won't stay dead ...or were never really alive...if they were ever really there at all? I loved the setting and the atmosphere of this story, which I thought was thrillingly original. The nonbinary Alon was aloof and enigmatic, and very, very cool, and if I was looking for some YA horror, I would have loved this. But I wasn't, and i didn't realize that's... sort of what this story is.  is. If that's your thing, you'll dig this.
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Having read previous novels from the author I was looking forward to this new one and I was not disappointed at all, I breezed through it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Sacrifice  was fast paced, thrilling and had a lot of suspense moments in there. An amazing read that kept me questioning my thoughts and will make you want to keep reading. The premise was different that what I go for but it was a nice change. 

Starting off a Hollywood film crew are making a documentary about a cursed island in the Philippines, we are introduced to the care taker of the Island - Alon who will also be their tour guide for their time there on the island. He does warn them about the island and it will end very badly for them if they go ahead but our film crew swipe the warnings under the carpet and only care about fame, money and their reputation’. 

Run Chupeco did an amazing job entwining mythology, Filipino culture as well as Cultural appropriation and other amazing aspects in the novel which is eye opening to the readers. The book was so very creepy and kept me engaged throughout my whole read. It had a good amount of gore in which I like. Overall a great read and I couldn’t recommend it enough. I am looking forward to other novels the author will bring out in the near future.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy in exchange of an honest review.
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The premise of this book was so interesting, and I definitely found myself ripping through the read. I loved Alon and loved to hate the American film crew that barged into the island of Kisapmata. The book was intense and spooky, with a really captivating narrative I enjoyed quite a bit. 

There were some parts that felt a bit weaker than others in the carry out, but ultimately I didn’t pay much attention as the book was so great at capturing the eerie happenings on the island.

Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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ARC was given by NetGalley & Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (October 4th, 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, murder, loss of a loved one/parent (in the past), mentions of plane crash, racism, themes of colonization & gentrification, alcoholism, talk of cheating, human sacrifices, cult themes, depictions of blood, graphic violence, gun violence, mentions of domestic violence, gaslighting & manipulation (from Hemslock), mentions of suicide, scene of dog being shot

“It is believed that when people hear the screaming, someone is about to die.”

It’s no secret that Rin Chupeco has easily become one of my favorite authors and when this earc landed in my lap, with a synopsis that lures you in, I had to start this book immediately. And of course, recommend it to all my horror/thriller loving friends! This was probably the easiest 5 stars I’ve given all year and I didn’t even think about it because at the end of this book, I just couldn’t stop saying ‘wow’ and I stand by that statement. Also, before we get into this review, I want to quickly mention that there is a dog in this book. For those wondering, ‘Does the dog die?’ No, the dog doesn’t die and despite my content/trigger warning, I’m not going to say anything else. Just know that this book is full of twists, turns, and surprises! And I also want to mention that this book won’t be for everyone, but this was the right book for me.

The island of Kisapmata is a beautiful place, but despite that beauty the locals fear the island and know of all the lives lost who stepped foot on it. With a body count of fifteen people dead, Hollywood quickly descends upon Kisapmata, determined to find out if the legend of a slumbering god is true and document everything. Alon, the only person who’s unafraid of stepping foot on the island wants nothing more than for everyone one to leave this place. And if he can’t convince them, there’s only one thing sure to happen… death and destruction.

Chupeco has such a beautiful and detailed way of building her worlds and establishing her characters. One of the biggest things that always sucks me into a Rin Chupeco book is the detailing in the environment and the those little details that make a character feel real. That’s what you get with this book. Plus, I’ve mention this to a few people, but it gives very strong Mummy vibes (for those who have seen the movies) and The Dark Picture Anthology vibes for fellow gamers. You get a rich, detailed, atmospheric book with characters who are so well detailed that even the ones you’ll come to dislike, you can’t help enjoying. Trust me when I say, there’s a lot of characters to dislike in this book, but I enjoyed them anyway because of those little details the author added in. I also want to point out that there is no good or bad person in this book, either. Okay, that’s a bit of a lie because there’s one lovely madman/power hungry nutjob thrown into this book that just makes this book feel just right. Otherwise, most of the characters are morally grey despite a few characters having bad pasts and you see the confliction in a lot of the side characters about certain things later on in the story. I also want to put in here that Alon, our main character is non-binary and the love interest, Chase Gries is either bisexual or pansexual. And I kind of really loved them a whole heck-a-ton!

“The living bring their own ghosts to the shore, and only the latter are honest about why.”

There’s also so many themes within this book and I think this is one of the strongest reasons why I fell madly in love with it. The author never holds back on themes she wants to include in her books. When Chupeco decides to include these themes, they’re beautifully woven throughout and honestly, at time, I think it’s hard for many readers to pick them out because they’re so intricately laced in the story. The prime example, there are a few characters we see who are haunted by their past choices and we see how the choices of those pasts can impact the way the characters are in the now. And there’s many other themes like that sprinkled throughout.

Respect was one of the major themes that really spoke to me because I’m a huge believer in respect. Not just respect being earned instead of given, but also showing respect to foreign people and a culture that isn’t your own. There were so many moments in this book that put an emphasis on respect and how even a little bit of it can go a long way. We also see what happens when disrespect occurs and how people respond to that disrespect. Though this theme isn’t a major theme of this book, it’s one I wanted to highlight and put emphasis on.

“Respect is key. But most foreigners don’t have that for us.”

The other major theme of this book ties in with colonization, gentrification, and how when foreigners come to a place that isn’t their own, they constantly demand and take, and if that doesn’t work then they just pay everyone off so they can do what they want. If you think this doesn’t actually happen, then you would be very, very wrong. This is something that still continues in North America with the Native/Indigenous people to this day and this is something that constantly occurs in other places such as the Philippines and South America, and many other places in the world. This was a theme that spoke to me on so many levels, for a plethora of reasons. And I want to point out, that with the entitlement that comes from foreigners to a new place that isn’t their own, there’s a lot of racism that comes along with that too. Prime example, Chase Gries, the love interest, upon arriving on Kisapmata hands all of his bags of to Alon and assumes they are “the help” when Alon is actually the guide and local of Kisapmata for the entire production cast. There’s also conversations in the beginning with a side character who talks with Alon of how Hollywood likes to take advantage of, not only young people, but foreign people, as well. These are just two of the various moments that highlight this key theme of the book. And again, this themes ties back to the themes of respect and how respect is often disregarded by majority of people who aren’t locals.

“No. The opportunities you have in America are not always available everywhere.”

Of course I have to talk about the mythology of this book! You knew this was coming at some point in this review and we’re finally here. I have absolutely fallen in love with Filipino mythology because of Rin Chupeco and this book is no exception. This book, like all of Chupeco’s books, are very unapologetically Filipino. The amount of notes of words I had to go look up, the creatures and legends I spent three hours scrolling to learn more about, it was just everything. It filled my heart with so much joy and honestly, I wanted even more and was so sad when the book came to an end. Though the author does add English translation or the definition afterwards, I still wanted to do my own research. That also lead me down many rabbits holes and a lot of late hours scrolling to learn as much as I could find. I really enjoyed that this book motivated me to look into things more and I also love when you can tell an author is being unapologetically themselves in their book, as well. I think this will be something many readers will either like or dislike. That’s just always been the nature of the beast when it comes to things like this, but I strongly encourage readers to look things up if they still don’t understand. And if you’re a mythology lover like me, the extra research is so worth it!

If I had to say anything negative about this book (which I don’t), aside from the Filipino words/language and mythology, I think many readers may have issues with romantic subplot. Now for me, this wasn’t any sort of issue and I kind of enjoyed it. I really liked that it still happened, but it wasn’t a main focus of the story and it wasn’t too much of a standout that it impacted the main storyline. However, I think if you’re a reader who’s not always a fan of romantic subplots, this could go either way for you.

And I will say, I don’t think the horror in this book will be for everyone. I think there will be readers who thoroughly enjoy this book because of the horror/thrilling aspects of it, but I think there will be many readers who get chills or become unnerved by a lot of the things that unfold in this book. Again, this is another thing that could go fifty-fifty for many readers. Obviously, I loved it and really enjoyed the way things unfolded and played out.

“The Diwata knows. He knows all who come to his shores. He remembers us after we die.”

Overall, I had a wonderful time reading this book! I saw so many similarities between this book and The Mummy, and for the video game lovers, The Dark Picture Anthology series. It was the perfect read for me! And let me say, curling up with this book while it’s storming outside was absolutely delightful and meshed so well with the story inside these pages. If you’re looking for a good atmospheric read for Summerween or for just fall reading in general, then you definitely need to put this book on your radar. It’s the perfect spooky read for lovers of all things spooky!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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TW: violence, racism, body horror, death, guns, alcohol usage, grief, mentions of SA

The Sacrifice was a compelling read but I have conflicting feelings about it.

If there is one thing I know about my reading taste, it's that I love a good horror book set on an island. And I loved that about this book. I loved the peaceful setting of a relaxing island mixing with horror elements and the whole atmosphere it creates. This book does that perfectly. The horror elements and all of the twists that happened were intriguing. But that ending!! I haven't been able to stop thinking about it!!

But I had a whole bunch of tiny problems with this book. One is the writing style. Something about it just made the first half of the story very confusing. Also the main character Alon refers to all of the characters by a nickname, which got very confusing because there are A LOT of characters. Most of the characters seemed like a caricature. Like the Hollywood producer guy is bad and takes advantage of people, the social media star is dumb and only cares about how people are perceiving him, etc.

Another thing that kinda threw me off (but will hopefully get resolved before the book is published) is that the main character Alon states that they don't see themselves as either male or female but every character in the book refers to them as "he" and there's never a conversation or any sort of correction to this. Even the love interest who states that he has nonbinary friends, never corrects anyone about Alon's pronouns, and he also would occasionally refer to Alon as "he". Hopefully, this gets fixed or something is added in before the final copy is published.

So while this book had the makings of something I would love, I just had a few small problems (and the big pronoun problem that I'm holding out hope of it getting fixed). I do think lots of people who read a lot of YA horror would enjoy this book. I think it does a lot of new things with the plot twists, and it's just a fun read.

Rating: 2 stars (will be lowered if the pronoun problem doesn't get fixed)

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book has a lot going on. Some of it works and some of it doesn't. The creep factor with the vines and trees, haunted history, cultists, ghosts, curses--all fantastic! Hemslock's altering character was interesting and entertaining. Nothing like a sinister Hollywood idiot thinking he's done no wrong and getting his comeuppance. He's a dynamic character and I couldn't wait to see what maniac idea he had next. And there's a twist at the end that I thought was kind of brilliant. What didn't work for me, at all, was the forced romance between nonbinary Alon and pretty boy Chase. It was totally unnecessary to the plot. Alon is asexual, stoic, and evasive. Chase is the same age but lacks maturity and any alluring qualities. Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC.
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Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for the ARC! This was fast paced, suspenseful, and a little bit grotesque. It’s an easy read that makes you want to keep reading and I finished it in under 24 hours. I thought the premise was really unique - a Hollywood film crew decides to make a documentary series about a cursed island in the Philippines, and Alon, the teenage caretaker of the island, acts as their tour guide. Alon warns them that things are going to end badly, but they’re more concerned with money and reputation.

There are creepy tree monsters, an ancient god who requires sacrifices, ghosts of people who have been wronged, scary caves, sinkholes, cultists, murders, and more. There is just a hint of romance which I thought was cute. The twist at the end was good as well, a great spooky read all around!
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