In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.
In 2016, Eddie is fully grown and thinks he’s put his past behind him, but then he gets a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank–until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.
“It was the first time I understood how things can change in an instant. All the stuff we take for granted can just be ripped away.”
Alternating between two timelines, this story centers around Eddie and his childhood friends, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and Nicky. The past focuses on the events that transpired that summer; from the mischief and adventure of their adolescence, to their discovery of a dismembered body. In the present, Eddie is a bachelor still living in his childhood home. One day, Eddie receives a letter containing a chalk man drawing, dredging up haunted memories of a past that was thought to have been put to rest. While uncovering mysteriously drawn chalk man figures, Eddie’s ghostly subconscious attempts to make sense of it all. Throughout this novel the reader is drawn into Eddie’s world, but Eddie isn’t the only one seeking answers to the tragedies of the past.
The Chalk Man is a tale that will keep you on your toes until you reach its ending. As the plot thickens, and just as you lead yourself into believing you have it all figured out, Tudor slowly unearthed bits of truth that will leave your head spinning. To believe that this is a debut is a very hard feat, as C.J. Tudor writes like a seasoned bestselling novelist. This novel gave me the vibes of reading Stephen King. The suspense, the switchbacks, the turns, and the juxtaposition of the characters… Bravo!
I particularly enjoyed how Tudor continuously answered all the questions popping into my head. I love when an author covers all bases; refraining from leaving plot holes. Tudor does this effortlessly, even down to connecting the dots on something as simple as a missing wallet. The 80’s vibe and music references sprinkled throughout this novel were also excellent additions.
C.J. Tutor’s debut is an enticingly bone-chilling novel with well-developed characters and an intriguing plot. Be forewarned that there are some graphic telling, such as bullying acts, that may make you feel a bit squeamish. Still, no reason to avoid this one. My lack of a star is mainly due to, in my opinion, an implausible ending. While enjoyable, some of the events seemed a bit coincidental and I was left with a lacking feeling of wanting a bit more. All in all, this comes highly recommended and the hype surrounding this novel as a must read for 2018 cannot be more factual. Get this in any way possible, you will not be disappointed.
Many thanks to C.J. Tudor, Crown Publishing Group and Blogging For Books for an advanced reader’s edition of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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