The Chalk Man was another one of those books that I’d seen all over bookstagram and knew I had to get. I’d heard that this book was brutal, hard-hitting and completely fucked up.
Well…it might have been brutal for those who are timid in nature or new to crime/thriller books, it certainly hits, but not too hard, and fucked up? Yeah, kinda. It’s not all that bad until the very last chapter and The Big Reveal – which had me bug-eyed and slack jawed staring at the wall for a while thinking about how this new knowledge effects everything I’d already read!
The Chalk Man is an outstanding debut novel. It’s so difficult to believe that this is C. J. Tudor’s first novel! It is unbelievably well crafted and had me immediately intrigued from chapter one!
There absolutely can be parallels drawn between The Chalk Man and Stand by Me but The Chalk Man is unique and different enough that it is simply for fans of Stand By Me rather than an almost-retelling rip-off. The 80’s nostalgia is real with this book, (and I’m a 90’s kid!) and fans of Stranger Things will absolutely love the 80’s vibe here, especially with the group of friends.
“They were chanting a lot of stuff about love but they seemed full of hate.”
The timeline moves from 1985 to 2016 and The Chalk Man does this flawlessly. Sometimes time-jumps can feel a bit forced and shatter the pace but I’m so happy that this isn’t the case here!
We follow a very believable narrator through memories and the present although I do think he was the weakest character overall. To be honest our main character was a bit dull (except for the final chapter) compared to the other characters around him. That’s not to say he was a bad character, or boring – but someone has to be the weakest, and it’s our protagonist. The other characters were fully fleshed out and interesting characters!
I have to admit that the friendship relationships lacked just a little bit, it felt like (ultimately) nothing seemed important to the characters in the end, therefore my heartstrings weren’t pulled as hard as they could have been.
I absolutely tore through this book, I loved it. I found myself thinking about it whilst I wasn’t reading it. I was at work trying to figure it out, trying to put pieces together. I woke up in the early hours of the morning with thoughts about it; I was fully engrossed in The Chalk Man all the way through.
“That seems to be the way with religion. Murder, rape, kill and maim, but all will be forgiven as long as you repent.”
Almost all of the twists surprised me; I loved trying to figure out who did what, what level they were involved in and what role they had to play overall!
The dark moments were well balanced with dark humour, but The Chalk Man was not as gruesome as I personally would have liked it to be, but I’m a massive fan of gory horror films.
The Chalk Man was a great standalone book and perhaps I liked it so much because I’m relatively new to the thriller/crime genre, but I can honestly recommend this book to those who are interested in thriller/horror or 80’s nostalgia with a dark twist!
I’m really looking forward to C. J. Tudors next book!
“But still, a strange feeling washes over me. Not guilt, exactly. It’s twin. Responsibility.”
Want to see if you can figure out the mystery of The Chalk Man? You can get it here, and there are even different covers to choose from!
[PLEASE NOTE]: I was not paid or sponsored to write this review – all the opinions are honest and my own.