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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’s desperate to discover the truth and save herself.
A claustrophobic and propulsive thriller exploring the dark side of friendships and fame, The Writing Retreat is the unputdownable debut novel from a compelling new talent.
This was a pretty fast-paced read to me, and I finished it in a couple of days.
This book was a crazy wild ride. The Writing Retreat is a fast-paced mystery/thriller that I had fun reading.
I don’t typically re-hash the plot in my reviews, because you can just read that in the blurb. I will say that about 50% in this book starts to get crazy, and I found myself questioning some things (in a good way).
Alex is our narrator, and I liked Alex’s character. She was a hot mess for sure, but her character development was great and I enjoyed reading from her perspective. I liked her interactions with the other characters as well, and also reading excerpts from her book.
The tension and the stress of trying to write a novel within a month’s time starts to add up, and the rest of the time is full of secrets, lies, manipulation, and downright craziness. I loved the atmospheric, gothic vybes of this book–the dark, sensual tones of Briarcliff and it’s history, and the bleakness of the snow-covered surroundings. I will say that the last 20% of the book felt a little OTT and rushed, but I still enjoyed the crazy ride.
Special Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Writing Retreat will be published February 21, 2023. Preorder Here!
ShootingStarsMagFebruary 16, 2023 at 8:34 am
Glad to hear this was fast-paced and you liked it. I have a copy from BOTM that I hope to read soon, as it’s been on my wish list for awhile.