black chalk

Good Games Go Wrong In Christopher J. Yates’s ‘Black Chalk’

black chalk

Who doesn’t love a game, meant to spice up a dull year, played like a train crash? A story of reckless fun gone dangerously wrong? This game is played by six friends in their first year at Oxford, too young to imagine repercussions, but too pompous to back down.

Six people, a number of rounds, each one separated by a week. A game of consequences, consequences which must be performed to prevent elimination. These consequences take the form of psychological dares, challenges designed to test how much embarrassment and humiliation the players can stand. Throughout the rounds players who fail to perform their consequences are eliminated until only one is left standing.

–Christopher J. Yates, Black Chalk

And the award, at the end of this game, will not only be the glory of winning, but also 10,000 pounds.

The book is told in a now and then style, flashbacks taking the narrator back to the naivety of youth, a time before the game got out of hand, before tics and affectations fully blossomed into obsessive compulsive rituals. Before hearts were broken. Before lives were lost.

The story here is complicated, masterfully crafted, and full of twists that make a review difficult without giving too much away. Although it was released in the U.K. last year, it was released in the U.S. last week with a stunner of a cover (shown above). Pick it up and prepare to be boggled several times over!

Read the first two chapters here.

Black Chalk on’