We all have fears we hide from. But in the end they will find us . . .
The Chalk Man is coming . . .
None of us ever agreed on the exact beginning.
Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures, or when they started to appear on their own?
Was it the terrible accident?
Or when they found the first body?
Source: Review copy
Publication: 11th January 2018 by Michael Joseph
It is 1986 and Eddie Adams is 12 years old when he first experiences the tragic event that will haunt him and his friends throughout their lives.
Eddie, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and Nicky are friends in the English town of Anderbury. They have the hopes and fears of all youngsters of that age and they have never been so excited as when they are allowed to go to the town fair by themselves.
As Eddie stands by the Waltzers, admiring a strikingly beautiful girl with red hair, the air is suddenly rent with screams and blood spray – as a part of a fairground ride breaks loose and smashes into Elisa, the girl Eddie was admiring – right in front of him. Eddie and a new teacher at the school, Mr Halloran, try and stem the worst of the bleeding from Elisa’s severed leg as Eddie fights hard not to look at Elisa’s heavily disfigured and bloody face.
Told in a dual timeline in alternating chapters between 1986 and 2016, The Chalk Man is in part a rites of passage story and in part a psychological thriller.
C.J. Tudor offers a well painted picture of 12 year old Eddie and his friends, and it is easy to understand how, through the alternating timeline chapters, the young Eddie morphs from being a strange little boy to being a teacher, living alone (except for his lodger) without any close attachments.
The narrative is very well told and the reader’s interest is extremely well held throughout the book as more and more plot points are added in and bodies begin to surface in the small town with increasing alacrity. There’s darkness at the heart of this story and it creeps and seeps into every corner of the reader’s mind.
From the pretty gruesome opening prologue to the sometimes quite graphic descriptions of violence, this is a book that does not shy away from tackling some quite difficult subjects, but the richness of the book lies in the way that the events of 1986 are shown to stick and reverberate some 40 years later, using Eddie’s voice as the coherent storyteller through that period.
I did enjoy it very much and found it to be an extremely accomplished book, especially given that it is a debut novel – I’d never have guessed that because the writing is so strong.
Where I did have a bit of an issue was with the way in which the various plot strands were tied together. In the end, for me, it all felt just a bit too rushed; a touch implausible and over dramatised.
Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely look for more from this author.
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.