Incredibly imaginative, Black Chalk, the debut for Christopher Yates, is one of the most compelling works of fiction put out this year.
The story centers on a group of freshmen students attending Oxford College in 1990s England. The odd collection of a half dozen friends includes an American farm boy, an orphaned Goth and a popular son of working class school teachers, among others. The crew decide to join an on-campus games group and create, with the oversight of their nameless mysterious game’s committee, a serious of dares that lasts well into the next decade and a half with sometimes sinister and dark consequences.
But far from being just another paint by numbers thriller, Yates injects plenty of dark humor into the book and each character is fleshed out fully with compellingly original characteristics. With various characters weighing in on their own interpretations of the experience, the reader is kept guessing until the last few pages. A fantastic debut from start to finish.
Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates/paperback/352 pages/Picador/2015