“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?”
What a treat! What a prologue! What a flipping brilliant story! If you haven’t quite guessed yet then yes, I am a huge fan of The Chalk Man and something quite incredible will have to make itself known to me for it NOT to make it onto my ‘books of 2018’ list. The bar has been well and truly raised and this little beauty is currently sitting pretty at the top of the book pile. Quite extraordinary and totally mesmerising!
Regular visitors to the blog will know that I love crime fiction with a passion (unhealthy? *shrugs* 😉😜). But I get particularly excited when I find a crime novel with a hint of a horror crossover included, which this is. My book of 2017 was Final Girls because it had a horror movie feel to it, crime with a large dash of spinetingling, nerve-jangling horror. The Chalk Man has some fantastic horror-esque elements to it but it is to all intents and purposes a crime thriller novel. I particularly enjoyed the scenes at the fairground which I found shocking and unsettling. And oh boy, that prologue! However, I know that many readers switch off when the word ‘horror’ is mentioned. I’m telling you now, don’t. Just don’t do it! Try it, what is there to lose? Start with The Chalk Man and I bet you fall a little bit in love with the creepiness, with the unease and bucketfuls of suspense Tudor has so expertly crafted. Go on, I dare you…
The story runs a dual timeline; partly set in 1986 and partly set thirty years later in 2016. In both the past and the present the reader is introduced to Eddie Adams (or Ed as he becomes known, later in life). Eddie is a normal kid, messing around with his mates and dreading the end of the school holidays. His little gang of friends made me quite nostalgic for my bygone childhood days in the late 80s (more early 90s really!). Except me and my friends didn’t have ‘cool’ nicknames like Hoppo, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Eddie Munster and, erm…Nicky!
I loved the adventure these kids went on. I mentioned earlier how much I loved the scenes at the fair. The fair plays a pivotal role in the story as this is where Eddie meets Mr Halloran for the first time. Mr Halloran is nicknamed ‘The Chalk Man’ by the kids he teaches at the school. He’s also the reason that Eddie and his little gang start leaving chalk man drawings as secret code for each other. So when the harmless, benign drawings lead Eddie and his friends to a dead body, there is only one person in the frame for murder.
From the day of the accident, strange things start happening in the small town of Anderbury. Tudor has masterfully built the tension so you never know what to expect but you’re on the edge of your seat from start to finish. And this is Tudor’s debut novel! I can’t wait to see what else the author has in store for us. Her debut is sublime!
I fell head over heels in love with middle-aged, stuck in his ways, teacher Ed. Something about this character drew me to him. I was completely hooked by his story and that of his friends, past and present. I want to say so much more about this incredible book but I’m on the brink of giving too much away so all I will say is that you need to get yourself a copy of The Chalk Man as it is magnificent and just the sort of book I want to read again and again and again.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s so deliciously gripping, chock full of suspense, engrossingly creepy and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Although I managed to put this book down and walk away from it I really didn’t want to. When I was doing ‘life stuff’ I was thinking about the story, thinking about Eddie and his friends. Trying to see where the story would lead me. I failed, by the way. There was no way I saw THAT coming. WOW! Absolutely brilliant, highly recommended, lots of fun and wonderfully addictive.
Five out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an ARC of Tha Chalk Man. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
C.J. Tudor will be appearing at the first First Monday Crime event of the year on Monday 5th February 2018. C.J. will be appearing alongside Tammy Cohen, Chris Carter, Craig Robertson and moderator Joe Haddow of BBC Radio 2’s Book Club. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 7pm on Monday 5th February in the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre, Tait Building, City University London. Click HERE for more information, directions to the venue and to book your place!
The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Penguin Random House – Michael Joseph Books on 11th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please be aware, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |
C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.
Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, waitress, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and now author. The Chalk Man is her first novel.