Friday, January 19, 2024

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

Alex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement.

But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell—they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she must discover the truth—or suffer the same fate. -

I loved this book.  It was an excellent thriller and had really intriguing, well developed, dimensional characters.  While a few beats were predictable, many others were not which was breath of fresh air with the recent glut of cookie cutter thrillers I’ve read lately.  In addition to the thriller elements,   Alex also goes through a period of self-discovery and explores her sexuality in what seemed like a very natural way to me.  The third act of this book goes bananas in a wild way that I was not expecting.  I also loved the book within a book as  Alex crafts her story for the retreat.  With frigid temperatures expected again in the Hudson Valley this weekend, you can’t go wrong with staying in with this winter set thriller. 

****/5 stars

I received my copy of The Writing Retreat as an e-book loan through my local library.   You can get your copy at your local book store, local library or visit the author’s website for more information.   

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