A compulsively readable psychological thriller set in New York and at Oxford University in which a group of six students play an elaborate game of dares and consequences with tragic result
It was only ever meant to be a game played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University; a game of consequences, silly forfeits, and childish dares. But then the game changed: The stakes grew higher and the dares more personal and more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results. Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round. Who knows better than your best friends what would break you? A gripping psychological thriller partly inspired by the author's own time at Oxford University, Black Chalk is perfect for fans of the high tension and expert pacing of The Secret History and The Bellwether Revivals. Christopher J. Yates' background in puzzle writing and setting can clearly be seen in the plotting of this clever, tricky book that will keep you guessing to the very end.
Psychological thrillers don't get much more complex or twisted than Yates's promising debut. In 1990, six Oxford first-years decide to create and participate in an elaborate mind game. Intrigued by the exclusiveness of a club known as the Games Soc, two of the six, Chad Mason and Jolyon Johnson, improvise a proposal that piques the interest of the club's three leaders. Participants in the game must carry out "psychological dares, challenges designed to see how much embarrassment and humiliation the players can stand." From the opening lines, it's clear that the game ends badly, given that the initially anonymous narrator describes his account, written 14 years later, as a confession. The narrator's unreliability is established early on with his assurance that he "absolutely" is not trying to trick the reader. Yates deftly interweaves past and present as he doles out the backstory in pieces without sacrificing plausible character development.
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Keeps your interest throughout. Very intricate plotting, some would say over complicated. Looking forward to the author's 2nd novel......great job!
By far one of the most exhilarating novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Please continue to write more amazing books!
I am ecstatic at having discovered such a wonderful new writer. He is on par with Donna Tartt (my highest praise), but hopefully without the decade wait between books. This is a book I must own in print.