Book Recommendation of the Month, Reviews

The Writing Retreat

A book deal to die for.

Five attendees are selected for a month-long writing retreat at the remote estate of Roza Vallo, the controversial high priestess of feminist horror. Alex, a struggling writer, is thrilled.

Upon arrival, they discover they must complete an entire novel from scratch, and the best one will receive a seven-figure publishing deal. Alex’s long-extinguished dream now seems within reach.

But then the women begin to die.

Trapped, terrified yet still desperately writing, it is clear there is more than a publishing deal at stake at Blackbriar Estate. Alex must confront her own demons – and finish her novel – to save herself.

This unhinged, propulsive, claustrophobic closed-door thriller will pull you in and spit you out…

I bought this book earlier this month and just kept thinking about it and how much I wanted to read it but I was saving it for May. I then had a horrible time so I decided to listen to my heart and pick up that book that I was saving because I wanted to read it now (April is my worst month, I’m never in a good place in April). Please do not make the mistake I made; if you want to read a book, just read it. Picking up this book was the right move because I devoured it within 24 hours. I did not want to put it down!

This book is super new, it’s a 2023 release and for once, I got to a book before anyone else I knew. I know I wasn’t the first person to read this but I don’t know/follow anyone else who had featured this book other than in hauls or TBR lists. This meant that I went into this book with no real expectations other than based on the blurb. How weird it felt to read a book without being able to gauge my future enjoyment of a book based on how other people reacted to it!

I loved this book! To the point where I didn’t need to think about my rating because it was a solid 5/5. This book gave me everything I’d hoped for: strong female characters, flawed characters, drama, secluded location, murder mystery, and drama (so much drama that I wrote it twice).

This book was split into four distinct parts which I felt right. The additional part at the end worked!

Part one was the initial set up. The main character was introduced. Alex was struggling in her life, she’d had a friendship breakup and was feeling lost. I loved getting to see her and her ex bestie have a little drama because I love the drama! The writing retreat was introduced and I just thought how lovely it sounded and if my writing ever got anywhere, how much I’d love to go to a writing retreat (not this one though, no retreats with murder! Maybe I just stay at home with my wee pink keyboard?). All of the characters were introduced and I really enjoyed them. I got some spidey sense tingling from a few of them and I was excited to find out whether I was right or not.

Part two had the writing retreat in full swing. The retreat wasn’t exactly what the attendees were expecting. The location was developed and was delightfully creepy and exactly what I wanted! I love a creepy and secluded location with shadows in every corner. This is where it all started to get scary and somebody went missing.

Part three was just pure drama and I loved it! It all happened. Reveals were unearthed ane I did not see these twists coming. I audibly gasped multiple times. This book kept me guessing! There was a finale and part three is where the book could have ended but instead, decisions were made and while I was a bit confused at the time, these decisions made sense!

Part four had even more drama and the extra big finale came. This was not the ending I expected but it was the one I needed.

This book kept me uncomfortably tense just waiting to find out what happened next. I loved everything about this book and I can’t understand how it fit so much into a 300 page book!

In addition to the creepy events of the house, there were toxic relationships galore in addition to genuine friendship. I cannot recommend this book enough! It felt like it mixed together elements from multiple books that I adore (Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth, Bunny by Mona Awad, and Other People’s Clothes by Calla Hankel). I know this book wasn’t made for me but it felt like it was.

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