Review: The Writing Retreat - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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’s desperate to discover the truth and save herself.

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

Book Type:

Psychological Thriller

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The Writing Retreat
By Julia Bartz

Review: The Writing Retreat

A writing retreat spirals into a horrific nightmare for a group of young writers in Julia Bartz’s The Writing Retreat.

Alex grew up idolizing the reclusive, feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. In fact, Roza was who brought her and her best friend, Wren, together, as they aspired to pen their own like-minded novels. Now, however, Alex grinds at a job she hates, all while wrestling with writer’s block and struggling in the aftermath a scandalous split with Wren.

She then receives an invite to Roza’s highly coveted writing retreat—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be mentored by her hero. But as soon as they arrive at Blackbriar—Roza’s remote estate—the retreat becomes more cutthroat competition than the amiable workshop for which they hoped.

The terms? They must complete an all-new novel in a month, submit their daily word count for critique, and whomever writes the best manuscript wins a life-changing seven-figure deal. As the women hunker down to submit the prerequisite 3,000 words a day, Alex’s research leads her down a sinister path, stoking fears about Blackbriar (and its rumored haunting) and ratcheting unease on Roza’s real motivation. Worse yet, everything wildly unravels when one of their own vanishes in the haze of a night gone wrong. Trapped by a snowstorm, and without Wi-Fi or phone service, Alex desperately searches for answers before it’s too late for them all.

This book really caught me by surprise in the best way. The gothic atmosphere, the nuanced characters, the intensifying tension, and threads of horror, all contributed to the immersiveness and unpredictability of the narrative. The tension between the women, especially Alex and Wren, exacerbated their already dire situation, spurring me to tear through the pages at break-neck speed. The whole experience felt like a wild ride—one teeming with betrayal, obsession, seduction, intrigue, and murder.

You won’t want to miss this one.

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