The Sacrifice by Rin Chupeco is a YA horror story set on the fictional Philippine island of Kisapmata, where sleeps Diwata, god of death. Alon is a local teenager who lives on the island and has forged a connection to it, living a lonely life away from other locals, who avoid the sacred island.

When a Hollywood crew arrives to film a ghost hunting series about the many mysterious deaths that have occurred on the island, they hire Alon as their guide, who warns them that they must leave before they anger the god. But the crew are determined to investigate the strange riddle from the journal of a coloniser who died there hundreds of years earlier:

The first to feed
The second to seed
The third to wear
The fourth to birth
The fifth to serve
The sixth to lure
The seventh to consume
The last to wake

Among the film crew is Hemslock, the star of the show; Gries, a man haunted by the death of his wife in a plane crash near the island; and Chase, Gries’ teenage son. Chase and Alon soon forge a connection among the terror and uncertainty that begins to plague the camp, bonding over Chase’s messy breakup that has gone viral on his social media channels.

Not long after the crew’s arrival, a sinkhole appears in the middle of the camp, in which grows a parasitic balete tree with a corpse in it. Hemslock is delighted and immediately wants to investigate the corpse, as well as the cave deeper in the island where several of the sacrifices are rumoured to have already been made to the Diwata.

After the appearance of the sinkhole and the first expedition into the cave, things quickly begin to unravel, with crew members having visions of lost loved ones, screams heard on the empty beaches, and a figure moving among the trees that does not seem to be quite human.

But still no one heeds Alon’s warning that they must leave the island and not seek the rumoured treasure hidden within the Diwata’s cave. What follows will haunt the crew for the rest of their lives. At least, the ones who make it out alive…

One of the main themes through the story is about Western media as another form of coloniser, wringing out Filipino stories, lore, culture, and religion for money and fame. Readers are guided firmly away from having sympathy for the deaths that occur, most of which are framed as natural justice for what they are trying to do on Kisapmata. The Diwata only accepts sacrifices in the form of the worst sinners, and the sins of Hollywood producers are many and varied.

This book is creepy and often genuinely scary, a mixture of body and atmospheric horror, with several mysteries that play out through the story, all drawing on elements of East Asian mythology. In the characters of Alon and Chase there is some solid bisexual and non-binary representation, and a surprising twist at the end brings several story threads together, while also leaving several questions.

The Sacrifice is creepy and imaginative, good for lovers of horror, sweet queer romances forged in adversity, and anyone who wants to see greedy Hollywood exploiters meet their just desserts.

I was provided a free copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *