Reviews

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

numinousspirit's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

justinkhchen's review

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5.0

5 stars

A ferocious ride of genre-bending fever dream, The Writing Retreat is part thriller, part horror, part commentary on fiction publishing, and throwing in a dash of sexual awakening for good measure—even though it doesn't dive deep into any particular themes, I really appreciate its dark humor and the ballsy direction the plot evolves into. If you enjoy the films produced by A24—where they usually start out as something familiar, before taking a turn for the weird and the unusual, this novel is giving that same vibe.

Going into The Writing Retreat blind would be my recommendation—I found myself unable to put it down, as it constantly subverted my expectation to where the plot was heading. On the flip-side, I can foresee readers who feel this novel is chaotic and all over the place, which is also a valid observation (the book is divided into parts, and each part is written as if it has stealthily switched genre), but I take it as an intentional creative decision to its overarching message—You gotta do what you gotta do to keep your readers around.

**This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated!**

alicias_bookaddiction's review

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4.0

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Alex is an aspiring writer who is struggling. Her personal life is a mess and she is nowhere close to finishing her novel. Alex wins a spot in a prestigious writing retreat with her favorite author Roza Vallo. The retreat is made up of five young women competing to win the best novel to be published and promoted by Roza. Roza is well known to be eccentric and her home where the retreat is taking place is just as eccentric. Alex is incredibly excited for the once in a lifetime opportunity, but everything starts to go wrong. Then the group is snowed in and must begin fighting for their lives.

I absolutely loved this book. The characters had so much depth. The scenarios were bonkers and totally unexpected. I couldn’t put the book down.

megane's review

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adventurous dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

kaitlin720's review

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4.0

3.5

literarygoblin's review

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3.5

• the premise of this novel is very interesting to me as a writer, so I was excited to see where it would go, and I found it engaging overall
• I think the biggest problems for me come from the characters and the looseness of the plot - there were many instances where the characters felt preachy and/or lacking depth, so I do wish that they'd been better developed and written; as for the plot, I think there were ideas happening that just didn't quite blend as well as they could've
• the conclusion, too, was a little lackluster for my liking, however, I do think that this story was interesting and it kept me invested the entire time; this author shows a lot of promise, I just think this book needed more work

_mchan's review

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dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix

3.5

eamcmahon3's review

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3.0

I liked the horror elements because they weren't unnecessary graphic but still offered thrills. It didn't feel like the tightest story and I wish the ending cut off at the mansion to leave more unknown

katherinethegreat's review against another edition

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4.25

What a wild ride!!!!!!!!! I liked this a lot more than a standard issue thriller, although it was a little gory at the end. Extremely interesting and good. 

lydloef's review against another edition

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4.0

I enjoyed this book. It kept my attention pretty much throughout the entire story. I thought the writing was good. Interesting and unique plot. I liked the exploration of complicated friendships. The author wasn't afraid to discuss the topic of female friendships that can become convoluted with romantic/sexual feelings, which I admire her doing.

There were a few times in the second half of the book that were a bit too chaotic and jumbled IMO. I think the author was just trying to do too much towards the end. However, I'll probably pickup more books by her, because I had fun while listening to this!