Book Review: The Writing Retreat

02.21.2023 | Atria Books
Rating: 4.5/5 stars


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.

Give me all of the locked room mysteries!! I’ll honestly probably never turn down the chance to read one and I love seeing what spin the author will take with them. 

Bartz casually leads the reader into the plot of this story. I loved the methodical set-up before getting to the retreat, which allowed me to get to know our main character, Alex, before the chaos took off. Once we get to the retreat, things start to move at a rapid pace with a sense of tension oozing through the pages. Bartz smartly added in the estate’s history as a book within a book narrative, which we get to enjoy through snippets mingled within the chapters. Pair that with the claustrophobia of being at a sprawling remote estate in the middle of a snow storm and you’ve got a recipe for binge reading. 

The Writing Retreat is probably one of the most unhinged locked room mysteries I’ve read recently. If you love tension, drama, and downright crazy characters who will stop at nothing to get what they want, you need this on your TBR! I’m absolutely shocked this book is a debut novel and I’ll have my eye out for more from Bartz in the future.

A huge thank you to Atria Books for my gifted copy!

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