The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

The Writing Retreat is a tense and twisty psychological thriller set in a remote location.


Alex jumps at the opportunity to attend a month-long writing retreat hosted by lauded feminist horror novelist Roza Vallo. The only downside is that her former best friend, Wren, will also be there. The two parted on less than amicable terms a year ago.

When all five attendees arrive at their host’s gothic estate, Roza announces that this retreat will not be a relaxed, write-whenever-you-feel-like-it affair. Instead, they must compete to win a seven-figure publishing deal by writing a new novel. 

With the sense that this is her last opportunity to get published, Alex attempts to start writing right away. Only, between the creepy atmosphere in the house, Roza’s mercurial behaviour, and Wren’s intimidating presence, Alex finds herself struggling. And then weird and dangerous things start to occur.

Review of The Writing Retreat

This gripping thriller solely follows Alex’s pov. It has a dark gothic vibe and a bit of spice. The plot becomes fairly wild and almost nightmarish, but I enjoyed the drama of it. The characters frequently did things they knew were unwise, but it made it more entertaining.

My least favourite aspect was the story within the story. However, since the majority of the plot focused on the retreat, it wasn’t a huge drawback.

I also liked the insights into writing and the publishing industry.

I was excited to read this debut, and it did not disappoint in the least. If you enjoy dramatic, tension-filled thrillers, I think you’ll have fun with this one.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 21 February 2023

Thank you to Atria for providing me with an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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