Book Review: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Title: The Chalk Man

Author: C.J. Tudor

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

You can feel it in the woods, in the school and in the playground; you can feel it in the houses and at the fairground. You can feel it in most places in the small town of Anderbury . . . the fear that something or someone is watching you.

It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when twelve-year-old Eddie met Mr Halloran – the Chalk Man.

He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body.

Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. It contains a stick of chalk, and a drawing of a figure.

Is history going to repeat itself?

Was it ever really over?

Will this game only end in the same way?

The Chalk Man has a rather morbid opening scene, then tones down the morbidity somewhat, to end in an extremely gruesome climax that nearly made me gag. Considering I don’t shy away from horror easily, and can usually watch horror movies without flinching, that’s saying something.

Part of the story takes place in 1986 and part of it takes place in the present day. In 1986, we meet a young Eddie (at age twelve or thirteen, in those whereabouts) and his gang of friends. They’re heading to the fair, not yet aware of the terrible events that would happen that day. Eddie fittingly nicknames this day as “the last normal day”. What happens next for all of them seems to transport them from one tragedy into the next.

One of Eddie’s friends gets chalk crayons for his birthday, and this inspires the kids to start communicating with each other in secret messages using the chalk. But when the chalk figures start appearing out of their own accord, either someone knows about their messages, or something more sinister is going on.

In the present day (well, 2016), Eddie is forty-two years old, yet he’s still haunted by the past, a past that refuses to stay buried. With an old friend coming back to town, and the secrets of the past threatening to come to light, Eddie has to decide if he’s strong enough to handle the truth.

The Chalk Man is C.J. Tudor’s debut novel, but it’s a strong, cleverly written debut. The story pulled me in from the start. The characters were unique and entertaining, particularly Eddie – although all of them had a certain bleakness, hopelessness to them as well, that somehow reminded me of the way Stephen King tends to portray the characters in his books.

One thing I did find dissapointing is how it all came together in the end – I saw that one coming from miles away, unfortunately. However, it was still a solid read and worth giving a short, especially on a dreary, rainy evening.

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