Reviewed by EL de Jesus
THE CHALK MAN
By C. J. Tudor
288 pp. Crown.
I think every person who’s ever been a kid has that one trigger memory, the one that brings back the taste of that lollipop flavor you really liked, or the sting of soap and running water on that scraped knee from the time you rode your bike a bit faster because you thought you were invincible. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor serves as a catalyst for that memory.
The thriller is set in a quaint English village (slightly stereotypical but still comfortably effective) and focuses on the lead character Eddie, his friends, and the little stick figures they use to convey messages in their own secret way.
The chalk men.
Eddie’s narrative on his friends, family, and life gives you hints and pieces on how his mind works, and the voice in which those little quirks are revealed is so well written that at times, it seems a bit unnerving. Scarily realistic even. It takes you back to your own friendships and the little things you did, but with the addition of a dead body and a mystery to solve. It also helps that Eddie’s friendship somehow gives you this low key Stranger Things vibe, just a bit darker (if not better).
I applaud Tudor’s decision in setting the story in two timelines, one in 1986, and one in 2016, so there’s plenty of space to see just how things were, are, and yet to become. And as with all seemingly innocent towns, it’s an unspoken rule that one must never ever trust anyone—and rightfully so, especially in The Chalk Man. With the time skip, Tudor opens up different directions on how to piece together the missing bits that will solve the death of one of Eddie’s friends. (Yes, they went there!)
As the story progresses, you’ll find it harder and harder to choose between speeding up to the climax or slowing down to delay it, and that I believe is a surefire way to know that a book is good.
Overall it’s a cleverly constructed, creepily concluded, and exhaustingly written thrill ride that’s sure to have you finishing the book without any breaks. (Okay, maybe a quick one for a snack because food is life, but nothing else! Even bathroom breaks!) It’s that good.
The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor will be available soon at Fully Booked. To reserve a copy, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EL de Jesus is a notorious book sniffer whose writing is littered across messy notebooks, literary publications, and his white-walled room. When not in writing, this self-proclaimed old-person-in-a-boy’s-body does art, creates a dozen photo series, and makes mixtapes with those cheesy covers. He has four dogs and two cats.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]