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Imprint: Magpie

The Writing Retreat

Julia Bartz

‘A five-star read that’s intelligent, accomplished and exciting. I dare you to put it down.’ Janice Hallett, author of The Appeal

The dark, atmospheric, feminist offspring of Squid GameThe Hunting Party and Misery

A book deal to die for.

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.

This unhinged, propulsive, claustrophobic closed-door thriller will pull you in and spit you out…

  • Publication date: March 2, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780861544431
  • RRP: £16.99
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication date: February 21, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780861544448
  • RRP: £6.99
  • Pages: 384


'The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz is a wild ride from page one. I’ve been on a good few writing retreats myself and thought I’d seen it all - I was wrong. Blending themes of friendship, ambition, creativity and courage, this thrill-packed story brims with secrets, intrigue and murder. Bartz wrangles tension of the highest order, and executes a fiercely original story with vigour and style. A five-star read that’s intelligent, accomplished and exciting. I dare you to put it down.'

Janice Hallett, author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code

'Julia Bartz’s shrewd, suspenseful debut takes the typical writer’s anxieties and obsessions and transforms them into a pulse-pounding, impossible to put down thriller. The Writing Retreat is bonkers in the best way, and it left me with a brutal case of author envy.'

Layne Fargo, author of They Never Learn

'A wild ride into the pressures of publishing that is equal parts nightmare and erotic fantasy as five would-be writers are pulled deeper into the secrets of Blackbriar and its inhabitants. In The Writing Retreat, Julia Bartz captures the hunger to have our stories told and the desperate measures some will take to cut through the noise.'

Jennifer Fawcett, author of Beneath The Stairs

'The Writing Retreat is a sexy, thrilling, compulsive mediation on art and competition amongst women who ought to be sisters, only something malignant gets in the way. I couldn't put it down.'

Sarah Langan, author of Good Neighbours

'Night Film meets The Secret History in Julia Bartz’s bold, brilliant, and genuinely scary debut. The Writing Retreat masterfully delivers everything thriller readers crave: palpable atmosphere, sinister characters, full-body chills, jaw-dropping twists, and stay-up-all-night suspense. I am obsessed with this book. I never wanted it to end.'

Megan Collins, author of The Family Plot

‘Darkly satirical and action-packed, The Writing Retreat brings a breath of fresh air to the locked room mystery. . . . The writing is flawless and the plot adeptly woven. An absolutely splendid debut!’

Wendy Walker, author of Don't Look For Me

The Writing Retreat will keep you up all night with its intriguing premise and gasp-worthy twists. A suspenseful story of ambition and envy, friendship and survival, this novel asks how high a price will one pay to achieve their dreams. The Writing Retreat is the very definition of a page turner, and a remarkable debut from a gifted writer.’ 

Kirthana Ramisetti, author of Dava Shastri's Last Day

'An audacious psychological thriller debut... Boldly drawn characters complement Bartz’s gleefully twisted plot.... Sara Gran fans, take note.'

Publishers Weekly

 'One to Watch'

Evening Standard

'Propulsive and spine-chilling, The Writing Retreat kept me on the edge of my seat from the very first page. Julia Bartz is an electric, intelligent storyteller, brilliantly blending nail-biting suspense and razor-sharp psychological insight. I could not put this book down!'

Erin Carlson, author of I'll Have What She's Having

'The book's pacing - a slow roll of dread and horror, especially in the first half - is exceptional. Bartz hits all the gothic highlights, but, far from feeling stale, they work. A perfect winter night's haunting.' 

Kirkus starred review

'Stomach-clenchingly thrilling from beginning to end... Highly recommended for fans of authors like Ruth Ware and Riley Sager.' — Booklist (starred review)

Julia Bartz

Julia Bartz is a Brooklyn-based writer and practicing therapist. She is the author of the popular Psychology Today blog ‘My Pleasure: The New Science of Sex, Dating, and Self-Care’ and previously ran the Brooklyn literary blog ‘BookStalker’. Her fiction has been published in the South Dakota Review, FictionDaily and InDigest Magazine and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The Writing Retreat is her first novel. 

Author page

More books by Julia Bartz

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