Apr 14, 2014

Book Review: Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

Title: Black Chalk: A Novel by Christopher J. Yates
Publisher: Random House UK; First Edition edition (April 1, 2014)
Something someone said all those years ago has stuck in my mind. Although I can't actually remember who said it....
Of course winning is everything. Why else do you think we call ourselves the human race?
(p. 14)
My comments: 
Oxbridge students will definitely love this book, as will college or university students who are competitive and love mind games. For this is what it is - a novel about Oxford students joining a club called Gaming, and creating a psychological game that tested wits and mental endurance. This was not meant to be a physical challenge, but it turned out to involve the physical further in the game.

I was a little out of my league with this book - I have long left the university as either a student or teacher, and my mind games are limited to word games or backgammon. But those readers still involved in gaming, virtual or otherwise, will find the book's setting and characters intriguing and the plot unusual and compelling. Do try it, if you like games and uncertain outcomes, even though you may not be a player.

About the book: "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." (publisher)

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.
Please visit his website, christopherjyates.com.

Thanks to TLC Book Tour and the publisher for a review copy of this book. Visit TLC for the tour schedule and other reviews.


To enter, comment here or email me at harvee44@yahoo.com with the heading: BLACK CHALK GIVEAWAY. The contest is open worldwide as the publisher in the UK is willing to send the books anywhere. The contest ends April 19. Winner will be notified by email on April 20 to send a mailing address, and will have two days to respond before another winner is chosen. Good luck!

UPDATE: Congrats to Brian Joseph, the winner of this giveaway!


  1. This sounds like a fascinating story.

  2. Thanks for this captivating and intriguing giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. Hi Book Dilettante, thank you so much for the mention on your website. And I like your choice of quote. Very much.

  4. This sounds different and fascinating. It has been a long time since I was in school myself and a lonfg time since I was involved in gaming but both subjects still interest me. The game sounds fun!

  5. This does sound good, especially for gamers or those interested in social competition. I'd love to win a copy, thanks for the chance.

  6. Thanks for hosting this giveaway! I will add it to my blog list.


  7. It sounds like an amazing book, with a great storyline. I would love a chance to read it. Thanks for having the giveaway.


  8. Thanks for being a part of the tour!


I appreciate your comments and thoughts...

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