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The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

The Writing Retreat


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Julia Bartz, on your first book!

by Julia Bartz

Quick take

Pro-tip: read the fine print before a writer’s retreat lest you end up stuck with a kooky horror writer & your ex-BFF.

Good to know

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    Writer's life


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’s desperate to discover the truth and save herself.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Writing Retreat.

Why I love it

Clear your schedule. Turn off your phone. Guzzle some coffee right before bed—once you start this book, you won’t want to stop. I was beyond lucky to read an early copy of The Writing Retreat last year, and I have not shut up about it since. To say I’m obsessed would be an understatement.

Aspiring author Alex gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she’s invited to a writing retreat led by her favorite horror writer, Roza, at the author’s luxurious estate. So what if Alex’s ex-bestie is there too? It’s all about the writing, after all. In fact, it turns out that the retreat participants are all competing for a massive publishing deal . . . as long as they can write a novel within a month. That’s stressful enough, but soon the vibe in the house becomes deeply unsettling, even sinister. As tensions rise, Roza’s behavior grows increasingly strange, and it’s abundantly clear there are secrets hidden within the estate. And that’s all before someone disappears.

This masterful debut is packed with eerie atmosphere, suspicious characters, and shocking twists. It chilled me to the bone, and as a writer who previously found the idea of a writing retreat to be both appealing and idyllic (not anymore!) I will forever be haunted by this story.

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Member ratings (27,541)

  • Kayla A.

    Buffalo, NY

    SUCH A GREAT READ! I absolutely loved all the intricate details of this book & wondering what was true & what was false! Speed read through at a record pace to figure out fact from reality. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Nadia E.

    New Hope, MN

    A truly CRAZY ride! The antagonist is as nefarious as Hannibal Lecter - with the same enigmatic appeal. The ending falls short for me, but everything else was a ridiculously fun rollercoaster! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • Laura M.

    Waterloo, IA

    Lots of unexpected things happen throughout this story; however, I really enjoyed how the writer’s mind was captured and how everyone worked together at the end for the good of the group. Cult - ????????

  • Jessica L.

    Wantage, NJ

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Dark, twisty, and fast-paced. A book about a group of writers gathered in a haunted mansion - sign me up! Reminded me a little of The Secret History. I couldn’t put it down!

  • Erin K.

    Tampa, FL

    I literally could not put this book down. I loved the twists and turns around every corner and the dark theme of the book. It even reinspired me to write my own twisted novel! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️