Book Review and Giveaway: Black Chalk by Christopher Yates

I’m proud to be a part of the TLC Book Tour for a new novel by Christoper J. Yates, Black Chalk. It’s different from what I usually read, but I found it exciting. I say exciting because it has the feel of a really good puzzle, similar to trying to find your way through a maze. Plus, it was a good mystery with a few pretty scary parts.  Before I go further, let me give you the book’s description from the publisher:

Black ChalkOne 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.

The story continues with an unknown narrator describing his life right now. For fourteen years he has been a hermit in his own apartment. He has an elaborate set of mnemonics to remind himself to drink water, eat, clean himself, and wear clothing. You have the feeling he’s desperately trying to hold himself together mentally. I’m sure  he is one of the six gamers but, which one?

Then there is a look back at what happened fourteen years ago. The story also jumps back to present day and continues to go back and forth. In total there are six students involved in The Game at Pitt College at Oxford University. Although there are six, the story focuses on the two main characters, Chad and Jolyon (pronounced Jolly-on).

Each person has their own reason for joining in on The Game, but primarily its for fun and to feel a part of a group. It starts out as harmless pranks and dares. As they go along each dare requires the player to do something more serious. It reminded me of fraternity/sorority hazings.

As the game progresses it becomes too serious. As they say, there are deadly consequences. I won’t give you more details because I really want you to experience this book for yourself. There are so many twists and turns, it was amazing. I changed my mind several times about who the anonymous narrator was, and did not put everything together until the end. Really!

“Page Turner” may be an old-fashioned word but, it truly fits in this case. You may miss a little sleep or a few TV shows while reading this book. If mystery or psychological thrillers suit you, you won’t mind missing a little sleep. To decide if this is for you, I suggest you read the first two chapters (free) on the author’s website. (Warning: it’s what hooked me.)

Christopher YatesAbout 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 a complete listing of the tour schedule for Black Chalk, you’ll find the schedule page here: TLC Book Tours



I seldom do giveaways, but I want you to read this book and here’s a chance to do so for free. I have one copy of Black Chalk to give away to one lucky reader. Best of all, it is open to all readers no matter where you live. Please use the comment section to let me know if you are  interested. Giveaway ends April 18th.

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7 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway: Black Chalk by Christopher Yates

  1. Mystica says:

    Please count me in for this one. thanks for making it open to all. Much appreciated.

  2. I don’t need a free book myself but I just wanted to comment on your review to say a huge thanks. It’s an enormous thrill as a writer to hear that someone has enjoyed your book so much. Reading your very kind thoughts on my novel was a thorough pleasure, Margot, thank you so much.

  3. CLM says:

    A very intriguing review – glad you were careful not to give too much away! I will look forward to this one.


  4. kelley says:

    that does sound like a good mystery! nice review.

  5. Beth F says:

    I have a copy of this … now must move it closer to the top of the pile.

  6. Pingback: Christopher J. Yates, author of Black Chalk, on tour April 2014 | TLC Book Tours

  7. I’ll be sure to carve out a chunk of time with as few distractions as possible so I can totally immerse myself in this one!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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