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The Writing Retreat
The Writing Retreat is the latest novel to be checked off my to be read list. I’ve been impatiently waiting on this one to be released for several reasons.
One is that it is Julia Bartz’ debut novel, which you likely know that I love a good debut novel from any author. There were also hints it would be a Book of the Month book as well.
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Have you read The Writing Retreat yet? Come on in and let me tell you about it!
About The Writing Retreat
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.
Thoughts on The Writing Retreat
I thoroughly enjoyed Andrea Bartz’s novel, We Were Never Here. Given Julia is her sister, and this is her debut novel, I went into it with high expectations and fully expecting to absolutely love it. Well, it sadly didn’t work out quite that way.
It is a great concept. I can imagine it in my head, and how I would feel if I had the opportunity our main character does. But it quickly turns dark, and some of it is just so far over the top, that it is insane. It feels like Julia Bartz just wrote it for the shock value instead of creating a cohesive and well written story. That was the most disappointing part of it for me, that it felt like it was written for the shock value to be different, but not doing it well.
This is what I would call a kitchen sink book. Meaning Julia Bartz took every outlandish concept, wrote them on notecards, and then tossed them all together in this book, randomly picking the notecard with each one when she was ready for a plot twist.
I watched an episode of Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives once, where they featured a restaurant owner who literally did this with spices, and mixed everything together. There was no cohesion, no real flavor profile, and no measurements. She just threw everything together and prayed for the best. That is what this book reminds me of.
I just couldn’t relate to or get attached to any of the characters, as they lacked any real character development. For me, a good story is one that starts strong, sucks me right in, and makes me want to keep reading until I’m done. I really wanted that book to be The Writing Retreat, but it simply wasn’t.
I read it all the way through, because I have a firm belief that once I start a book, I’m finishing it. But this one could easily have been a do not finish for me.
Final Thoughts on The Writing Retreat
I went to read reviews once I was done, just to see if I was the only one who didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had anticipated. Other readers absolutely loved it, as I had expected to.
So please don’t let my opinion sway you. I recommend you try this one and form your own opinions, just because the reviews are so mixed. You may love it, and I hope you do! It appears that many people enjoy the crazy and random twists that I disliked. If you are one of those people, please do give The Writing Retreat a try.
I honestly think that is my favorite part of books and reviews. To see the mixed opinions, read what others liked and disliked. It also brings attention to books and authors, no matter if the opinion is good or bad.
Have you read The Writing Retreat from author Julia Bartz? Are you a fan? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
About the Author
Julia Bartz is a Brooklyn-based writer and practicing therapist. Her fiction writing has appeared in The South Dakota Review, InDigest Magazine, and more. The Writing Retreat is her first novel.
Purchasing The Writing Retreat
If you are interested in buying the paperback version of The Writing Retreat, click here.
For the hardcover version, click here.
Click here for the Kindle version.
Click here for my favorite Kindle I currently own.
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