Posted in Reviews

Review of The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

*Note: This book was an advanced reader’s copy from Net Galley. It will be published on February 21, 2023, and is available for pre-order on Amazon at

****4 stars

This book disappointed me, although some readers may enjoy it. I read it because I like fictional stories about authors. It started out with an interesting theme. A famous horror writer sponsors a writing retreat for young female authors at her secluded home. After reading samples of their writing, she chooses six women under thirty. Alex, a fan of Rosa Vallo since reading one of her bestselling books as a teen, ends up taking the place of one of the retreat members even though she’s thirty-years-old and is suffering from writer’s block. Alex is unaware that another retreat member is her previous best friend, Wren. After they broke up, Wren was accidentally injured at a party that Alex attended. Alex has blamed herself for Wren’s injury since. When they’re reunited at Rosa’s mansion, they initially regard one another with animosity. That changes when incidents occur that cause both women to realize the pettiness or their hostility toward one another.

A central theme to the book involves the history of Rosa’s home and how the previous occupants, a woman named Daphne and her husband Horace, were found brutally murdered in the 1800’s.. Daphne had been involved in spiritualism that her husband didn’t condone and was rumored to have conjured up an evil spirit. Alex uses these characters and background for the work-in-progress Rosa requests of the retreat members who must each submit a certain word count each day to participate in a contest where the winner will be published by Rosa’s publisher.

Without giving away the twists, this book contains elements of the supernatural, lesbianism, and how far an author will go to become famously published. Not recommended, but everyone, but some will find it a unique read.



I'm a retired librarian and the author of the Cobble Cove and Buttercup Bend cozy mystery series and other novels, short stories, poems, articles, and a novella. My books include CLOUDY RAINBOW, REASON TO DIE, SEA SCOPE, MEMORY MAKERS, TIME'S RELATIVE, MEOWS AND PURRS, and MEMORIES AND MEOWS. My Cobble Cove cozy mystery series published by Solstice Publishing consists of 6 books: A STONE'S THROW, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, WRITTEN IN STONE, LOVE ON THE ROCKS, NO GRAVESTONE UNTURNED, and SNEAKY'S SUPERNATURAL MYSTERY AND OTHER COBBLE COVE STORIES. My new Buttercup Bend series published by Next Chapter Publishing includes THE CASE OF THE CAT CRAZY LADY and THE CASE OF THE PARROT LOVING PROFESSOR. I've also written a romantic comedy novella, WHEN JACK TRUMPS ACE, and short stories of various genres published as eBooks and in anthologies published by the Red Penguin Collection. My poetry appears in the Nassau County Voices in Verse and the Bard's Annual. I'm a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Cat Writers' Association. I live on Long Island with my husband, daughter, and 2 cats.

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