Review: Black Chalk, by Christopher J. Yates

About the book Black Chalk

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Random House UK; First Edition edition (April 1, 2014)

One 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.

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About the author, Christopher J. Yates

Christopher J. Yates

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 more information on Christopher, please visit his website,

Click here to read the first two chapters of Black Chalk

My Thoughts

Wonderfully constructed, wonderfully plotted, and completely gripping – that’s my description of Black Chalk. We’re dropped into the narrative with a visit to the apartment of someone who has physical mnemonics for every part of his life, and left to wonder what caused this obsessive hermit behavior.

All too soon, we spiral into the rest of the story, one that spans 14 years, includes six people, and is completely entangled in a psychological game that began when they were freshmen (freshers) in college and continues to influence their adult lives.

With twists and turns that are the textual equivalent of the best roller coaster rides this book’s only flaw is that at some point, it had to end.

Goes well with A bento box and Japanese beer.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops for Black Chalk, click here.