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Black Chalk [Kindle Edition]

Christopher J. Yates
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
Kindle Price: £4.35 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

A compulsively readable psychological thriller set in New York and at Oxford University, in which a group of six students play an elaborate game of dares and consequences with tragic results
 One game. Six students. Five survivors. It was only ever meant to be a game played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University; a game of consequences, silly forfeits, and childish dares. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal and more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results. Now, 14 years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round. Who knows better than your best friends what would break you? A gripping psychological thriller partly inspired by the author's own time at Oxford University, this is perfect for fans of The Secret History and The Bellwether RevivalsThe author's background in puzzle writing and setting can clearly be seen in the plotting of this clever, tricky book that will keep readers guessing to the very end.

Product Description


"An inventive and intricate psychological puzzle thriller that mystifies, torments, disturbs, beguiles... a powerfully intelligent debut" (Marcel Berlins The Times)

"A truly chilling thriller, with campus-fun-gone-wrong echoes of Donna Tartt's The Secret History" (Psychologies)

"[A] chilling debut...this is a thriller, a cautionary tale and a sobering exploration of unintended consequences rolled into one" (Daily Mail)

"Sinister, addictive and unpredictable - this is a novel to be devoured greedily, at speed, but one that will leave its footprint on your memory for far longer" (Natasha Lunn Red)

"This addictive psychological thriller will have you hooked from start to game over" (Stylist magazine)

"Compelling" (John O'Connell Guardian)

Book Description

A compulsively readable psychological thriller set in New York and at Oxford University, in which a group of six students play an elaborate game of dares and consequences - with tragic results

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1700 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (19 Sept. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099581620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099581628
  • ASIN: B00CZ7OC28
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #66,412 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Christopher J. Yates was born and raised in Kent and studied law at Oxford University before working as a puzzle editor in London. He now lives in New York City with his wife and dog. 'Black Chalk' is his debut novel. You can read his blog on his website at:

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Chalk 21 Sept. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Six friends come together at Oxford University - one American, five British; four male and two female. As we get to know Chad, Jolyon, Mike, Emilia, Dee and Jack, we discover how they began to play a game - 'the game' - whose consequences went too far and the implications of which are still felt fourteen years later when one of the characters looks back on what happened. The game begins in earnest when some of the students are at the freshers fair and come across the 'Game soc'. The stall is manned by three young men - Tallest, Middle and Shortest. When the game is outlined to them, they agree to offer a cash prize to the winner. What results is the friends becoming more and more insulated and apart, their lives becoming governed by the rules of the game which takes over their lives.

This really is a stunning read, full of twists and turns (the first major twist took me totally by surprise and not many authors really manage to pull off the totally unexpected successfully). Often you have no idea of what, or who, to believe or trust. What happened all those years ago to cause our narrator to be holed up in a small apartment in New York, surrounded by bizarre obsessions and rituals? Who were those who ran the game society and what was the part they played in the tragedy which left a group of friends torn apart and one lost forever? This is a very clever novel, well realised and plotted and absolutely unputdownable. I loved it and recommend it highly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A chilling and gripping read 22 Sept. 2013
Black Chalk is a gripping tale of campus life, peer pressure and how a harmless game can escalate to become all-encompassing. Six Oxford students become involved in Game Soc- one of the many societies designed to distract students from their studies. However, what started as a game full of childish dares and minor humiliations soon transpires to be much more than that, with tragic consequences... Set over a fourteen year period, Black Chalk is a chilling representation of egocentric desires and dogged resolution to triumph.

Black Chalk has a really interesting premise. The idea that we can so easily relinquish control, especially when battling to be a 'winner', really resonated, and whilst there were times when Black Chalk did seem far-fetched, the dark and ominous foreboding that I felt as a reader had me hooked. There were plenty of twists and turns and Yates's writing style is succinct yet illuminating, which allowed me to visualise both the characters and settings throughout.

I found the earlier sections of the book the most interesting, particularly the tasks the students were required to complete early on. Amusing and cringeworthy, they set the scene and allude to what later comes.

If you are a fan of dark, psychological thrillers, Black Chalk is well worth a read. I can also imagine it working well as a dramatisation serialised for TV. Yates has created a dense and impactive work that draws the reader in as the game spirals out of control .
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive and wonderfully twisty! 19 Sept. 2013
By Liz Wilkins TOP 500 REVIEWER
One game. Six students. Five survivors.

At University, six friends come together and play a game. Its a silly little game imagined by two of their number - a game of actions followed by consequences growing ever more intricate in nature...with one winner to remain standing at the end. Fun. Oh yes. Or no. As the game becomes ever more involved, the stakes higher, the opponents becoming ever more competitive and adversarial, friendships will be destroyed and tragedy will strike. Watched over by the ever mysterious Game Soc, the players are pushed to their limits....just how far will they go and how much of their future will they sacrifice?

This story will sink into your subconcious.....written in a clever and compelling way the lines between fantasy and reality blur and you will never be quite sure where you are. The game itself is brilliantly imagined - it seems so innocuous and yet its insidious...when is the game being played exactly...and just how serious will the consequences be?

Another extremely clever aspect of this novel for me, is the way that the usual "twists" you would be expecting to come at the end, or as game changers somewhere in the middle are all over the place and intricately placed. In a way this is very much a character driven novel...Jolyon stands out as perhaps one of the most enthralling and unusual characters you will find in fiction - and the rest of the students in their own way are just as fascinating. Any one of them can walk away at any moment...but will they? Psychologically speaking they are all captivating - are any of them quite as they appear? Its very cunning writing...Insidious indeed.

As a mystery, it works on several levels. It will keep you guessing but not about the usual things perhaps.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My book of the year 24 Sept. 2013
By Nethers
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I don't review much but do read a lot, especially crime or 'mystery' fiction.

The other (excellent) reviews sum up the subject and essence of the story really well. Get the sense that it's 'twisty', intriguiging and 'unputdownable'? It's all of those and more. The characters are believable, even those on the periphery, and recognisable to anyone who's been to university, college, school, work - in fact anywhere where people of similar yet different backgrounds get together. It's about relationships: jealousy, competitiveness, love and friendship - and the head-scratchingly perplexing concept of popularity. There's also a whole other story going on, just off the page, that had me intrigued. Oh, and an early twist made me want to hug the book to me as I was on a different track entirely.

In short, a terrific read, a real puzzle and I hope there are more in the pipeline.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Black Chalk
I really wanted to like this book but having had two or three attempts at reading it and finally struggled through it as best I could it really didn't do anything for me. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Damaskcat
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Difficult read. Didn't really get there for me!
Published 2 months ago by Aland
1.0 out of 5 stars do not buy this book
Awful Will never get the time back spent reading this book
Published 4 months ago by Barbara Enticknap
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Intriguing read!
Published 6 months ago by VictoriaB
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant, intelligent thriller, tinged with gothic?
Published 6 months ago by Ann
3.0 out of 5 stars Booktrail to New York and Oxford
One game

Six students

Five survivors

What a premise for a thriller of a book!? Read more
Published 6 months ago by thebooktrailer
2.0 out of 5 stars A Frustrating Read, Difficult to Connect
I have had to let this book settle on me for a few hours before doing this review. I had such high hopes starting this book based on the synopsis, I thought it sounded... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
1.0 out of 5 stars DNF
*I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Random House UK - North America and Christopher J. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jess Watkins (A Book Addict's Bookshelves)
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Debut
The concept behind Black Chalk grabbed me right from the get-go. The idea of an innocent game evolving into something more sinister and the effect that would have on its... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Miss Jay Sawdy
4.0 out of 5 stars Black chalk, black hearts
A brilliantly intelligent read about the recklessness of youth and its long term consequences. The mysterious Games Soc. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Bibliobeck
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