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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
The Ritual is the first instalment in debut author Mitchell Lüthi's novelette trilogy, Plagueborne. A strange sickness is sweeping across the lands of Greater Virren and although the province of Rothenberg is unaffected, Lady Katarina Lorenzo believes that it won’t remain so for much longer. She attempts to convince the city Councillor that there is more to this plague than meets the eye but his hatred for The Order blinds him to the disturbing information they’ve discovered. Katarina sets out with Tannhauser, a fellow army veteran turned mercenary, to discover the origins of the outbreak. The threat of the plague has already sparked superstition in the general population and when Katarina and Tannhauser stop in a nearby village, they find themselves in the midst of a witch hunt.
A tantalizing high fantasy story with hints of darkness spread throughout, The Ritual introduces the reader to a world riddled with both religious superstition and a strange sickness with supernatural origins. Katarina is a fascinating character and her relationship with Tannhauser is peppered with amusing, friendly teasing. Lüthi builds tension by hinting at the dark magic and beasts connected to the plague without ever giving the reader more than a tantalizing peek at the darker forces at play. The duplicity and fervor surrounding the witch hunt and subsequent trial carry a sinister sense of realism while also injecting a satisfying element of irony. The Ritual is an enjoyable, light read overall and an intriguing start to what promises to be an entertaining trilogy.