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The Writing Retreat Review: Back-of-Book Description

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Sex, suspense, and the supernatural fuel this propulsive debut.” —People
“Darkly satirical and action-packed….An absolutely splendid debut!” —Wendy Walker, nationally bestselling author of Don’t Look for Me

“The Plot” meets “Please Join Us” in this psychological suspense debut about a young author at an exclusive writer’s retreat that descends into a nightmare.

 

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.

 

A claustrophobic and propulsive thriller exploring the dark side of female relationships and fame, The Writing Retreat is the unputdownable debut novel from a compelling new talent.

The Writing Retreat Review: My Thoughts

My friend and I both chose this book as one of our Book of the Month choices. I thought we’d read it together but life got in the way. She read it first and said she liked it – said that it was a quick exciting read. I actually tried to read a nonfiction after my last book, but after struggling to get into it, I decided a quick exciting thriller sounded more fun.

So I dove into The Writing Retreat, ready to escape real life and nonfictions in favor of made up problems and thrills.

I was gripped pretty quickly but then about a quarter of the way into it I got a bit bored by the writing or the plot…or maybe both. I didn’t give up on it or anything, I just often chose TV over the book. Eventually though, I pushed on and was interested to find out what was going on. 

The author did a pretty good job of laying a foundation of uncertainty between the main character and the other characters involved, such as an ex best friend. She also did a good job of establishing a sense of mystery around the location and the woman leading the retreat. Because of this, she was able to build on the suspense.

While those were all good aspects, I found the parts where the main character’s work in progress novel was inserted were a little strange – the writing on this “book within a book” was terrible. 

There were also some erotic scenes depicted that I wasn’t expecting. While I don’t mind that in my books, some people might be taken aback by that since it didn’t seem to be a featured genre point. At times they felt odd, because of the spooky-ness of the story. Other times it was as if the author was using it instead of action to move the story along. 

To that point, since it is June and Pride Month, I’ll note that many of the sex scenes are between women. 

Favorite Quotes from The Writing Retreat:

“That was the way of the world: if you were a woman, then you had a job to do, and that was to pretend to love everyone else walking all over your body, leaving imprints on your face. You were supposed to crave it, to beg for more.”

“My anger and helplessness connected me to something, a powerful and primal energy. And the only corridor to it was through utter despondency, utter desperation.”

“Maybe this pain wasn’t for nothing. Maybe I just needed to mold it into something beautiful.”

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz, a Review Share on X

 

The Writing Retreat Review: In Conclusion

So…while I did get into the story and I was captivated enough to finish, I have to say I thought The Writing Retreat was only ok. 3 stars from me. At first I thought the meta storyline of book writing within a book was kind of cool. But that quickly turned to an awareness of poor writing about poor writing. And then it just felt weird.

Still. It was a quick read, with some interesting subplots and I can understand the appeal for people who like books about books, or psychological thrillers. It’s worth a shot if you come across a copy.

Thank you for taking the time to read this review of The Writing Retreat – feel free to share! Check out my other book reviews here and pin or share your favorite quotes below. 

“That was the way of the world: if you were a woman, then you had a job to do, and that was to pretend to love everyone else walking all over your body, leaving imprints on your face. You were supposed to crave it, to beg for more.”
“Maybe this pain wasn’t for nothing. Maybe I just needed to mold it into something beautiful.”
“My anger and helplessness connected me to something, a powerful and primal energy. And the only corridor to it was through utter despondency, utter desperation.”
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