"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

Black Chalk
Author:  Christopher J. Yates
Published:  April 2014
Publisher:  Random House UK
Pages: 352
Genre: Fiction/suspense
Source: A complimentary copy was provided by the author, publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The author has the first two chapters on his website here-http://www.christopherjyates.com/book/.

One game. Six students. Five survivors.
It was only ever meant to be a game.

A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round.

My Thoughts:

Black Chalk is psychologically breathtaking!  

Six friends who met in university devise a game which shall challenge each of the six mentally and emotionally.  The prize is monetary.  The rules are obscure, the game a combination of cards and dice and personal challenges, the consequences demeaning; but it's all in good fun.  No one is supposed to get hurt...but then they do.

"Yes, that’s what we said about the Game all those years ago. It’ll be so much fun!"

 "...whether I win or lose, I hope this story will serve as my warning to the world. A cautionary tale. My confession."

I was positively mesmerized by this book.  It's like being a bystander at a horrific accident.  You know it can't end well but you can't look away.  You are entranced.  Black Chalk twists and plays mind games with you, the reader.  When you think you know, you've picked up some clue, then Yates yanks it away and takes you back to where you once were.  And of course, like a gambler, you cannot let it go.  You delve deeper, you cannot let go, until the end.  

It's been at least a year since I've found a book so masterfully written, psychologically twisted, and spell-binding.  My applause to Yates for achieving what I consider a rarity among talented authors.  Truly mind-bending.

Black Chalk has been compared to Donna Tartt's Secret History, Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer by other reviewers.  I might add another in The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Woods (reviewed here) a psychological suspense about the fine line between genius and madness.  If you enjoyed any of these titles, enjoy a good puzzle, and like to be challenged, then definitely pick up a copy of Black Chalk!! 

Meet the author:

Christopher J. Yates studied law at Wadham College, Oxford from 1990-93 and initially pursued a career in law before he began working in puzzles, representing the UK at the World Puzzle Championships. Since then he has worked as a freelance journalist, sub-editor and puzzles editor/compiler. In 2007 he moved to New York City with his wife, and currently lives in the East Village.
For more information on Christopher, please visit his website, christopherjyates.com.


  1. The author sounds like an amazing man. Thanks for the review.

    1. Christopher Yates certainly put his knowledge of puzzles to good effect with this novel. Thanks Ann.

  2. I can promise you the author is not an amazing man. He's OK. Sometimes. But he is enormously grateful for such an enthusiastic review. Thank you so much, My Bookshelf.

    1. Mr. Yates, I hope this is the first of many!

  3. Thanks for being a part of the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  4. Great review! I agree with you 100% - this book was masterful! I think Yates' background in puzzles in evident in his ability to construct such a complicated, yet seamless plot. I heard recently that he's working on his next book - so excited for more from him!


Hey there! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate all my visitors and your comments so please introduce yourself, ask or make suggestions. I'd love to hear from you. This blog is a no-award zone. I appreciate the acknowledgment but your kind words are enough.

No spam please!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...