Six friends at Pitt started a game their freshman year. By the time the year came to an end, only five of them remained. But the game didn’t end there. Over a decade later it’s time for the next round to begin and this time they’ll have to play to the finish.
Christopher J. Yates’s debut is full of suspense and charged atmosphere.
First there is the game: one of dares and humiliation – what could go wrong there, right? Of course the stakes have to get higher to ensure the game doesn’t lose momentum and the “friends” begin to wonder if they were ever friends at all.
But Yates also tells the tale in a dual storyline – one from the characters’ freshman year and one fourteen years later. The identity of narrator in the present day thread is quite cleverly hidden from the reader initially. And when that person is revealed the reader begins to realize just how unreliable he or she may be.
Both the elements of the game and the way Yates’s characters play out make Black Chalk a deliciously wicked read, one that leaves the reader on edge right until the very last page.
5/14 Becky Lejeune
BLACK CHALK by Christopher J. Yates. Random House UK (April 1, 2014). ISBN 978-1846557286. 352p.