STARRED REVIEW
August 04, 2015

An elaborate game gets out of control

By Christopher J. Yates
Review by

For some college is about fresh starts, new friends and big adventures. When Chad wants to make the most of his time abroad at Oxford, he befriends Jolyon, a jovial, well-liked first-year student. The two share great camaraderie, and together they design an innocent game meant to mimic the inherent risks and consequences of life. Needing six to realize the game, they invite four others to participate with an enticing reward.

Share this Article:

For some college is about fresh starts, new friends and big adventures. When Chad wants to make the most of his time abroad at Oxford, he befriends Jolyon, a jovial, well-liked first-year student. The two share great camaraderie, and together they design an innocent game meant to mimic the inherent risks and consequences of life. Needing six to realize the game, they invite four others to participate with an enticing reward.

But those closest to you have the ability to use your greatest fear against you, and this harmless game of dares and consequences evolves into psychological warfare, and after a horrifying incident, The Game is suspended.

Now, 14 years later, The Game resumes. This lapse in time was enough for the players to mend from the psychological stress—except for Jolyon, whose neurosis immobilizes him into a shuddering recluse, damaging his love life and career and impairing the simplest of everyday physical activities such as dressing, eating and going outside. Now that The Game has even higher stakes, Jolyon sets out to retell the story of his first year at Oxford so he can get the story straight and get his life back. More than just a fable of his youthful follies with friends, his story holds secrets unknown to the final players—but they have hidden confidences, too.

Christopher J. Yates shines with his first book, Black Chalk, a grippingly dark narrative set in 1990s Oxford and present-day New York. Yates creates calculated threads, knotted with friendship and romance, and slowly reveals frightening character traits for a thrilling read. One question will remain with readers: What do your friends know about you, and how far would they take that truth?

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

Black Chalk

Black Chalk

By Christopher J. Yates
Picador
ISBN 9781250075550

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres every Tuesday.