Rating: 4/5 stars
The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz is an exhilarating debut novel that expertly weaves an intricate web of suspense, mystery, and female rivalry. Bartz’s writing is a breath of fresh air in the realm of psychological thrillers, with a compelling story that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.
The protagonist, Alex, is an aspiring author who is given an incredible opportunity to participate in an exclusive writing retreat at the estate of Roza Vallo, a renowned feminist horror writer. She is thrown into a world of high-stakes competition, interpersonal tension, and strange happenings that will test her to her limits.
Bartz has an uncanny ability to bring her characters to life. You’ll find yourself empathizing with Alex as she grapples with self-doubt, navigates complicated friendships, and strives to achieve her dream of becoming a published author. You’ll also feel the chill of the snowy estate, the shroud of unease enveloping the mansion, and the desperation of the writers aiming for the coveted publishing deal.
The twists and turns in the narrative are plentiful, keeping the reader guessing. Just when you think you’ve figured out the next piece of the puzzle, another unexpected event occurs. This constant sense of uncertainty adds a layer of intensity to the narrative that sets this book apart.
Despite the complex plot, the story remains rooted in reality. It’s not your typical haunted house story with supernatural occurrences but instead a chilling tale of the real horrors that can be found in human behavior and ambition.
A noteworthy debut, The Writing Retreat is a captivating exploration of the darkness lurking beneath the surface of dreams and friendships. It is a thrilling journey that you won’t want to miss.