Monday, April 7, 2014

Black Chalk by Christopher Yates

In Oxford, six friends have joined together as freshmen.  There are four males and two females.  One is American, five are English.  Jolyon is the cornerstone.  Charming and magnetic, he is the person everyone wants to be around.  Chad has come over from America for a year of study abroad.  He is intense and finding his way in life.  Mark is a scientific whiz.  Emilia is the psychologist and the most empathetic member of the group.  Jack is the comedian although it is unclear if his jokes are hiding something under the sarcasm.  Dee is a writer and seems fragile.

On club day, the group meets a club that seems intriguing.  The club is meant to promote games, mainly role-playing ones.  Chad and Jolyon come up with a game that the club agrees to sponsor.  It is an offshoot of Truth or Dare.  There will be a round once a week.  The person who loses will choose a challenge, or set of challenges if the loss is a big one.  The challenges are things that have been specifically chosen by the group for that person, based on their personality.  Who knows better than friends what will be difficult for someone to do?  Everyone puts in a thousand pounds.  If a player refuses a challenge they are out of the game and lose their stake.  The last person wins all the money plus an additional ten thousand pounds put up by the supervising club.

At first the game is mild with challenges like standing up at supper and singing.  Mildly embarrassing but nothing earthshattering.  That changes as the weeks go by and the group dynamic starts to change.  Close-knit friends start to look at each other with suspicion.  As the challenges get harder and more humiliating, they lead to consequences that no one in the group anticipated before the game started.

Christopher Yates has written a compelling, dark mystery that will have the reader constantly on edge.  There are twists and countertwists.  Alliances are formed and broken and the game follows the group in ways no one could have anticipated.  This book is recommended highly for mystery lovers and those interested in psychological suspense. 


Unknown said...

Huge thanks for your review, Sandie. I love the way you describe the plot as having "twists and countertwists". Great stuff, thank you.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for being a part of the tour!