#SpringHorror Review: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

A solid 3.5 star for me.


The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor, Narrated by‎ Euan Morton  
Audiobook Horror Fiction
Released January 2018, Unabridged 
Amazon ♦ Goodreads
In 1986, Eddie and his friend are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little 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 each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be 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 his other friends got the same messages, 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.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.


My Thoughts:

This book felt very familiar. If you grew up reading King and watching many an 80’s movie, you’ll no doubt feel the same way. It has a beautiful sense of place and a slow sense of creeping dread but there wasn’t anything totally new here and by the end I was beginning to just wish it would hurry up and spill all of its secrets.

I listened on audio and the narrator was good with the voices but I really and truly wish that two of the characters weren’t named Nicky and Mickie. Maybe a Nicky and a Peter? Or a Robin and a Mickie, perhaps? This made for so much confusion for me on audio. I’m not sure if it was the light accent of the narrator or the similarity of the names, or both, but it kept tripping me up and that's never a fun experience.

The story is presented in two timelines. There’s present day Ed in 2016 and there’s young Eddie in 1980-something. The 80’s timeline is when most of the strange and terrible stuff happens as young Eddie comes of age with a group of his closest chums. The book bounces back and forth between the two timelines as grown up Ed tries to solve a decades old murder after a letter arrives with ominous chalk drawings and an old frenemy arrives soon after. Information is doled out very slowly in both timelines but eventually it all begins to come together. And that’s all I’m saying about the plot because this is a mystery-thriller, people, and a thriller should never be spoiled! But that doesn't mean that I'm done yapping.

So, current day Ed is a bit of a dullard, if you ask me. He is dry and rather unemotional and he's telling the story. He’s a grown man living with a young lady named Chloe but there’s nothing sexual going on there so don't get too excited. I’m kind of glad about that on one hand but if I’m being totally honest a little sexy time might’ve perked things up or added some real tension but alas it’s all pretty sexless. Their relationship made no sense to me until the reveals started coming much later in the book. But for most of the story they interacted with some weird sort of passive-aggressive tension that made me a little uncomfortable for them.

Young Eddie’s story was more interesting to me, even though he has the same personality as older Ed, because Eddie witnesses some pretty awful things but alas none of them are supernatural even though there are little teases strewn about so don't get too excited about that either.

As a mystery-thriller The Chalk Man worked for me because I am terrible at figuring these things out and this one fooled me and kept me going until the end because I HAD to know. My main complaint about the book is with the people and the complete lack of humor. They weren’t people I ever grew to care about. Even the kids. They’re a group of angry, dull, unlikable kids and I didn’t feel their connection to each other. They didn’t seem like a close-knit group to me and that’s where the book fell down hard. In the beginning, I had high hopes but perhaps they were too high. There’s a dog in a few scenes that I loved more than everyone combined and he has no dialogue and only a scene or two. That probably says too much about me but there it is . . .

But, oooh, you have to read until the very end because the final dark surprise was fabulous!

I’m giving this a 3 ½.

Book #8 for the Spring into Horror Readathon

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Comments

  1. Nope, I fully understand. The dog was my favorite too. And while I don't think I have to have characters I like in EVERY book I read, it does help if I don't hate them all - like I did here. I mean I was wishing for them to die (but if you ask Stormi I'm always wishing for people in shows and books to die - does that say something about me? Just call me Reaper). I think you were more generous with your rating than I was. Man, I just wanted this book to be over. And while I agree, a relationship between Ed and Chloe might have sparked things up, the way it was written, I had a whole pedophile feeling going. It was a weird vibe. The only thing that did work for me in this book was the dual timelines and I've come to learn I'm pretty much always a fan of that. Great review...poor Murphy.

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  2. I liked the characters better as kids than adults, but you're right, it was hard to find any of them really likeable. But some of those plot twists at the end!!! I was not expecting some of those. :)

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    1. That last grisly reveal was my favorite. It explained a lot about the character :)

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  3. Oh, dull characters are the worst.

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  4. I loved this book! I do remember liking the kids story a bit more for much of the book. I loved how things wrapped up and the story did keep me guessing. I did love that dog. Sorry this one didn't work quite as well for you.

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    1. That's ok. It wasn't terrible except for poor Murphy!

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  5. I have this one (I had it as an ARC) but haven't really felt compelled to read it.

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    1. It's not all it was cracked up to be but it wasn't horrendous. Give it a go and see if it's for you.

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  6. Barb cracked me up. I too wish for characters to die. Probably why I read a lot of horror. LOL I'm still on the fence about this one. I might read it if I can swap for it at the used book store.

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    1. Ha, me too! I remember reading The Ruins and hoping for those fools to die because they were so stupid they deserved it. You can feel right at home here :)

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  7. I've seen mixed reviews of this one but it sounds similar in style to It so I really still want to read this at some point.

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    1. Give it a go, you might be one of the lucky ones who love it.

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  8. Hmm... I keep being on the fence about this one.

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    1. I bet my review was no help at all! Sorry about that :)

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  9. I loved this. Big King fan here. I too listened and loved the extra edge it provided. Wonderful review.

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    1. Thanks, Kimberly. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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