The Writing Retreat
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Getting your break as a novelist is a dangerous game in this striking and original thriller. Struggling writer Alex is trapped in a job with an academic publishing house when the chance of a lifetime appears: an invitation to join a monthlong writer’s retreat led by her favorite author, gothic-horror novelist and feminist champion Roza Vallo. At Roza’s remote mansion, five young writers will each complete a novel in 30 days—and the best of the bunch will win a seven-figure publishing contract. This setup stokes anxiety right from the jump, especially when Alex realizes her frenemy Wren is also attending. Debut novelist Julia Bartz has a load of fun plotting the alliances and rivalries among the competing writers, and she throws in a few dramatic, shocking twists. The Writing Retreat is a smart, scary, and surprising thriller with a feminist outlook.
Aspiring novelist Alex—the narrator of Bartz's audacious psychological thriller debut—idolizes button-pushing feminist horror writer Roza Vallo, so she's elated when Roza selects her to attend an exclusive, all-female writing retreat at Blackbriar, Roza's remote Adirondacks estate. Upon arriving, Alex and the other four invitees learn they must each conceive of and complete an entirely new book in the next 28 days. Roza will eject anyone who doesn't make their daily word count, but her editor will publish the best finished manuscript and pay its author a $1 million advance. With Roza's encouragement, Alex begins a fictionalized account of the bizarre, unsolved deaths of Blackbriar's builder and his occultist wife. The story flows as though channeled, but when unsettling events start happening and one of the participants disappears during a blizzard, Alex wonders if perhaps she should focus less on potential fame and more on survival. Boldly drawn characters complement Bartz's gleefully twisted plot. Excerpts from Alex's work-in-progress pepper her increasingly paranoid narration, underscoring her shifting mindset. Sara Gran fans, take note. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM Partners.
Could not put it down.
Julia Bartz is OUTSTANDING!!
What a deliciously dark, disturbing story Julia Bartz has written. This is such a harrowing, riveting and thrilling ride that’s full of heart racing terror and sheer horror. For all the thriller, mystery fans out there- THIS ONE IS A MUST READ of 2023!!!
I had a hard time finishing this book
I was glad when it ended