Cover Image: The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for letting me read this in exchange for an honest review.

I didn't really know what to expect when I started this.. I've seen lots of people reading it and I've seen good and bad reviews. I really enjoyed this book though. The fact that it's set in the past in 1986 when the events actually occurred and now, well, 2016, when Ed is still trying to figure out what happened all those years ago, compelled me to keep reading. Each chapter was ended on a cliffhanger so I couldn't put the book down and just had to keep reading on to get all the answers! The writing flows really easily which also helps to whizz through this book really quickly.
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The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor was quite the hype on the social media due to its intriguing blurb and an extremely thrilling cover.

“What shapes us is not always our achievements but our omissions. Not lies; simply the truths we don’t tell.”

As the name suggests, The Chalk Man is the man one would see at any place that has something happening. It can be something as simple as an attack/fight or murder. The chalk man draws his characters as stick men and directs the audience to the scene of the crime.

A mystery that started in 1986 when 12-year-old Eddie met My Halloran- who taught Eddie and his friends to use chalk drawings to communicate and sent secret messages to each other. But it wasn’t really all fun, after a series of incidents happened which indicated the presence of The Chalk Man.

The Chalk Man is a master mystery, which joins a lot of small events and the secrets behind it. The plot is driven by revenge and facts that will increase your curiosity and sometimes leave them unanswered. When these events repeat itself again in 2016, Eddie decides to find the mystery and put it to rest once and for all.

“We think we want answers. But what we really want are the right answers. Human nature. We ask questions that we hope will give us the truth we want to hear. The problem is, you can’t choose your truths. Truth has a habit of simply being the truth. The only real choice you have is whether to believe it or not.”

It was extremely difficult to connect with the characters because each of them had their own vendetta and though the author tried to write happy times, it sounded forced. Because happy time doesn’t leave a string of unexplained corpses. The central mystery, the death of the Waltzer girl has been approached beautifully and runs a full circle. The other mysteries, not so much. The author ends each chapter in a cliffhanger, most of which feels forced and has no connection to the central plot whatsoever.

The Chalk Man is a mystery with characters full of vengeance and hatred. The plot can get really serious at times, and one keeps guessing about what happens next. But it left a bad feeling in my mouth.
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From reading the blurb on this book, I was really excited by it. Plus with recommendations coming from Stephen King himself, what more could you want? 

Needless to say it didn't disappoint and I thoroughly enjoyed it
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A childhood game went wrong and the repercussions start coming through in the present day.  I really enjoyed the characters and how they were developed, but the plot didn't hang together for me.
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This book is a lot of things packed in 288 pages - it is a thriller, a horror, a commentary on society today with its good and bad. Set in a small town in England, its a time shifting story of two murders, one that took place in 1986 and another that took place in 2016. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, although it is a slow read for a thriller. Towards the middle, the story becomes a little chaotic and hard to follow, but overall an interesting read.
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Anyone who’s seen the hype around this book will know it’s being compared to the work of Stephen King. If I recall correctly, even the great man himself compared it to his own work on Twitter. Point is, it will be the most unoriginal comparison I can make, if I say The Chalk Man is comparable to something that Stephen King might write. Well, apologies, but I’m gonna, for the comparison is apt.

CJ Tudor has written a coming of age story that can easily stand aside the master’s work. In Anderbury, we have a small market town in England, comparable with those King conjures in Maine. In Eddie, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo and Nicky, we have child protagonists the like of which King populates his novels, such as IT. And in the chalk man drawings that sinisterly litter the narrative we have the kind of fiendish motif he might have conjured.

Unlike King’s writing this is a crime novel, rather than horror, but like IT we have child protagonists trying to solve the mystery and plagued by evil. It’s not a straightforward crime novel, this is no police procedural, psychological thriller or serial killer tale. Rather it is both a coming of age story – the narrative is split between alternating chapters set in 1986 when the protagonists are ten, and the present day when they are adults – and chiller/thriller, if that makes sense. Both narrative strands work well, though those chapters set in 1986 are by far the best, the author perfectly encapsulating a child’s eye view and managing to conjure up how it felt to grow up in the 80’s.

What’s the central crime the plot revolves around? I really don’t want to say - albeit the book’s description gives that away, telling the reader that the children find a body. In many ways however, this misses the point. A plethora of crimes, both hinted at and explicit, occur in this story; there are multiple characters who may or may not be involved. I want to resist divulging spoilers because this is a MUST read, a really enjoyable experience; there are twists galore and a really eerie sense of foreboding that seeps from each and every page.

Read this novel. You really won’t regret it.

5 out of 5 stars
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C.J. Tudor's debut has already received praise by Stephen King, so really, that's all the recommendation you need. Still it's easy to see why.
With shades of IT and Stand By Me, The Chalk Man is a stunning murder mystery and coming of age story that could have easily have been penned by the horror master himself.
Set across 30 years, it follows a boy/man's childhood experience with a new teacher, known as the mysterious Chalk Man, and a series of events that culminate with an unsolved murder. 
Tudor has created a real page turner that's near impossible to put down, one full of great characters and small town secrets.
Do yourself a favour. Grab a copy and clear your schedule. You won't be disappointed.
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When your debut book gets recommended by Stephen King of all people, it sets expectations high but this assured thriller meets them and then some. It’s 1986 and Eddie and his friends, Fat Gav, Hoppo, Metal Mickey and Nicky are inseparable in the way children who spend their lives outside are. Then a freak fairground accident sets off a chain of events which introduces Eddie to The Chalk Man, Mr Halloran, and ends in the tragic discovery of a dismembered body. Cut to the present day and Ed, as he now prefers to be known, is still haunted by the events of that summer with several questions still unanswered. 

This is a smartly written, accomplished crime thriller. There’s a lot to unpick in amongst the story. The complicated relationships between Eddie and his reverberates into adulthood and there’s many stark realisations as Ed looks back at his childhood through adult eyes. There’s a grim disappointment underlying in Ed’s life as he rattles around his parent’s old house with only his lodger for company and you get the feeling that as complicated as his childhood was, those summers were the happiest of his life. The two narrative voices of the past and the present are both distinct from each other despite being the same character and the time jump device is used very effectively, keeping the story rattling along at quite a pace. The last 50 pages are particularly hectic with twists galore is the story hurtles towards its end. A couple of small seeds planted early in the book come to fruition nicely towards the end. The characters of the kids are really well written. I worried slightly at a character named ‘Fat Gav’ but they all had their own personalities and voices. 

A brilliantly written book with much to enjoy for crime fiction fans. The hype is worth believing this time. 

I received a ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
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I was really looking forward to reading this book as it sounded so good and there was so much hype about it but I just didnt enjoy it and it was so slow. I wasnt interested in any of the characters and I unfortunetly did not finish this book.
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When I first read the blurb about this book it reminded me of many of the 'coming of age/body in the woods' stories, but something drew me to it anyway- maybe the stunningly simple but effective cover.

Told by Ed, who with his mates Fat Gav, Metal Micky, Hoppo and Nicky hang around together through the Summer Holidays of 1986.  They leave chalk messages of stick men for each other until one day they follow  a message none of them admitted to making and make a horrific discovery.

The story switches  back & forth between Ed's youth to adulthood. In 2016 he is still living in the same town, a teacher at the local school. When he and his old friends  receive letters containing a chalk drawing and then one of them is found dead he realises his life might depend on finding out what really happened all those years ago.

This one kept me reading far into the night as I struggled to work out what the answer was- needless to say I didn't! A brilliant debut novel- can't wait to see what the next book is like! Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this book.
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Started off with a lot of promise but feel like it fizzled out. Good premise but failed to deliver. Readable but nothing special.
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This is one of those books that’s been getting a lot of attention in the bookish world, so of course, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about! While it only took me a couple of sessions to get through the whole thing, I wasn’t that thrilled by it. The hype wasn’t worth it for me.

I immediately knew this novel wasn’t going to be a 5 star read because I didn’t like the way it was written from page 1. It’s one of those novels that’s told in flashbacks, but rather than transporting us back in time to live the events as they happened, we were told it as though we were being read a story. I feel like this way of writing really makes you take a step back from the events and you don’t get the chance to experience them along with the characters. So anything that’s meant to be tense or exciting didn’t feel that way for me.

As for characters, I honestly didn’t have an opinion on any of them. You would have thought that our main character / narrator Eddie would have left some kind of impression on me, but he didn’t. I genuinely have nothing to say about him… he was unforgettable. The only thing I can think to mention is that his relationship with his housemate Chloe seriously cringy.

I didn’t mind the story in this one, but the synopsis had me ready for something so much more exciting and sinister. It kept me interested for the most part, but I wasn’t enthralled. I had the ‘baddie’ sussed in a matter of chapters, so from there, all I was trying to work out was their motive. It was pretty good at keeping you on your toes in that sense.

Some books try so hard to be exciting and this is one of them. It seemed to me, that each chapter had new drama in it. Less is sometimes more! Don’t forget that! We don’t need drama, after drama, after drama to keep us entertained. It got tedious and took any realism away from the story.

In the end, this novel was extremely underwhelming for me. I didn’t find it exciting and I didn’t think the story was particularly unique. I think this would be a good novel for non-mystery readers, but I’ve just read too many similar stories.
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The Chalk Man was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. Having it approved on Netgalley had me reading it at once and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a thriller and is brilliant. After reading a series of bad thrillers, this came as a welcome respite.


I really liked the premise of this book. A group of friends uses chalk figures as secret codes to communicate. Later a series of these chalk figures lead them to a severed dead body whose head is missing. When the most likely suspect is found dead in his home, the town goes back to its perpetual state of sleep hoping that all has ended. However, 30 years later, the group receives letters with a chalk man drawn on them. Ed has his own theory of how it all happened. He wants to find the real perpetrator but he has some secrets of his own, kept safe in a box under the floorboards.

What I liked about this book:

This is a true on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller. Even though the descriptions are discomforting at so many levels, the suspense urges you to keep reading. The unsettling parts form an inseparable part of the story. The writing pattern of shifting timelines and connecting the events is superb.

It does not disappoint since it does not have a cliched ending.It is unexpected and chilling. A little less exciting in how it is written but thank goodness, it is not yet another novel with a schizophrenic murderer.

Interspersed with the gory details are some bitter truths about life. These make the readers question a lot of their own actions.

In short, I enjoyed reading it through and through. There are some loose ends and a few questions unanswered but I have decided to look at them as the author’s way of leaving it to the reader’s imagination. There are a few question threads going on, on the book’s Goodreads page if you want to put in your theory as well.


I would recommend it to people who read thrillers with a cautionary warning of some graphic and uncomfortable content.

Thank you Penguin Books UK and Netgalley for providing me a review copy. All views are my own.
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Right from the first few pages it was such an intriguing story, I was compelled to continue reading to find out what happened to ‘the gang’ in their childhood and who/what was coming back to haunt them.

Previous to picking up The Chalk Man, I had been in a complete reading slump for a couple of months, I was really struggling to find something that gripped my attention and kept me engaged all the way through. However this wonderful novel brought me right out of that state of mind!

I absolutely loved how C J Tudor shaped the characters, Eddie was a wonderful protagonist and it was so interesting to read his prospective of childhood and then 30 years later in adulthood. Tudor made an exquisite job of writing in the mind of a 12 year old, including how he perceived the world and the people around him, then flitting to Eddie’s much older adult self, couldn’t have been an easy task!

This was a highly anticipated read for me and I’m so pleased I wasn’t deflated! Super excited to read more by this clever author!
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I have followed the hype for this novel via social media and I was very intrigued. The synopsis is rather vague, which I quite liked. It immediately draws your attention and you want to learn more. I thought this was going to be a standard crime fiction novel, but I was wrong. Not only was I wrong, but I was in for a real treat!

The chalk man grips hold of you and won’t let go!

I read the entire novel in one sitting, staying well up past my bed time and feeling increasingly freaked out at 2am.
There are parts of the novel that reminded me of IT.
The story of a bunch of childhood friends, into the modern day.
The story that haunts them and the secrets of their shared past!
The novel isn’t a horror novel and the chalk man isn’t pennywise. But it held this eerie feeling from 80 pages in and I couldn’t get the plot out of my head. There was NO way I was putting this novel down, until I had some answers.

The novel opens with a dark prologue detailing the discovery of a body with a missing head! So, you are made well aware from the onset, that this novel has some very dark scenes. The novel has alternate chapters between 1986 and 2016. The 1986 era, is very well written. The terminology, the childhood games and friendship circle are all, spot on! The author has done a fantastic job of bringing the era alive.
Then it begins to tell the story of our protagonist Eddie/Ed…….

In 1986 Eddie aka Eddie Munster, had a gang of friends. Fat Gav, Hoppo, metal Mickey and the only girl Nicky. They meet every Saturday, to hang around the local park and build dens etc. This particular Saturday is special because the fair is in town and we all remember that feeling when the fair comes to town!!!

There is a freak accident at the fair and this brings in the introduction of waltzer girl Elisa. Elisa is the victim of the accident that leaves her horrifically disfigured. It also introduces her saviour and the new mysterious teacher Mr Halloran.

“They were wrong. Mr Halloran was many things, but normal was never one of them” – Eddie

Mr Halloran is the gang’s new teacher, at the start of term in September. He is new to the town and noticeable, as Mr Halloran is an albino. But at the opening of the novel he is portrayed as the hero that saves Elisa’s life. But there is always a shadowy, mysterious element when he enters a scene. For me personally, he became a character that evoked feelings of mistrust and a slight dislike. Why is he so creepy? What is his fascination with befriending the children? I HAD to know more about Mr Halloran!

In 2016, Eddie is now known as Ed, he is a 42yr old English teacher. Ed has stayed local and still lives in his childhood home in Anderbury. Slowly, over the course of the chapters we catch up with the rest of the gang and where they are now!
The characterisation of the gang, is brilliant and an example of some very skilled writing. It brings back childhood memories.

Even in the 2016 scenes, there is an element of mystery in the build-up. Ed starts receiving weird letters of chalk drawings. He has a young lodger Chloe, who intrudes herself into the story. He also has a dinner guest due, an old friend.
*What went through my head was, ‘he is having an old friend for dinner’. There were some subtle hints and nods to famous scary scenes.
That really added to the eerie feel of the novel.

At this point in my reading, I had hit 1am. The whole house was asleep and as I crept downstairs to the bathroom. I managed to freak myself out, which resulted in a scream and nearly waking the whole house up!
*So, a word to the wise, probably best to not read this in the dark at 1am!
The novel continues to jump between 1986 and 2016. We learn more about the elusive chalk man. How he haunts the gang and ultimately why!
Each chapter is cleverly written to drip feed information, that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
There is a real depth to the novel, details added so that the author can build upon the growing guessing game within the readers mind! Mr Halloran appears every so often with his creepy one liners, which made me even more distrustful of his intentions.

“Better to be a fool than an angel” Mr Halloran

In the modern day, someone or something is haunting the gang. When adult Mickey ends up dead, the novel really picks up its pace. There are some disturbing scenes of bullying from the past and we learn this gang is as complex as it is fascinating!
When the past and the present finally collide, it is a rollercoaster of an ending, that is in my opinion, completely unpredictable.

Huge respect to the author on this amazing debut novel. 
I predict a bright future ahead of her and some sleepless nights ahead of me! 4.5*
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A very creepy debut which overall I enjoyed. The story links 2 murders one from 1986 & one in the present that comes back to haunt a group of friends.The Chalk Man was a gripping read & I look forward to reading more from this author
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A quick and well-written mystery. I tend to gravitate to mysteries with females characters, but I very much enjoyed The Chalk Man which has four boys/men as the protagonists. I especially liked Eddie, who came across as a sincere, honest and quite normal person. The two story lines, alternating between 1986 and 2016, worked very well. I find that in a lot of books this is not the case, and I end up wishing that I could skip the one story. I really liked that the author included the parents and other smaller characters backstories. My only issue with the book was the ending - once again I thought there were too many twists and reveals, especially the last one. I will be watching out for this debut authors next book, as the writing really drew me in. Perfect holiday/weekend reading.
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Brilliantly written and with interesting characters. I would highly recommend the book. Personally I didn’t think the solution lived up to the overall book hence why I’ve given it a 4 star.
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This book was recommended by a few other bloggers and friends so I was keen to read it. It was set in the eighties so I loved all the references to eighties things. The friendship within the gang was interesting to read and the author pitched it just right. I really enjoyed reading about the gangs adventures when they weren't finding dead bodies.
I suspected the main character was hiding something from the beginning. The way the parts of the body were found was very well thought out.
It was unusual in the way that despite being a thriller it moved quite slowly, but still kept the reader hooked.
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It's always great to have an opening that will instantly grab you and The Chalk Man is definitely one of these books. I really wasn't expecting the events at the start of this book at all and I loved that I ended up being surprised especially as I didn't know where the story would go next. Now after this brilliant start I did wonder if the story would dip a little and lose some of the tension but this was not the case. The plot moved smoothly and even though it wasn't necessarily always fast paced there was something about this story that completely wrapped me up in the characters lives and I was so invested in discovering the truth.

I don't really want to go into too much detail regarding the plot but the story does alternate between two timelines - 1986 and 2016. I know that in some instances this can come across as confusing however in the case of The Chalk Man it just ends up complimenting the story so well. Looking back after finishing the book I couldn't make my mind up as to which time period I preferred and I think this is definitely down to the smooth transitions from one time to another. Secrets and truths are revealed slowly but surely in a way that made me not want to put this book down. I enjoyed each time period equally as I got to know the characters not only in 2016 but also their younger selves feeling like I was right there with them.

I loved all of the twisty intense turns that this mystery took me on, the whole book easily grabbed hold of me and refused to let go. The Chalk Man is such an intriguing story and one that has plenty of shocks and surprises waiting to jump out of the pages at you. There was also a wonderful atmospheric and almost chilling aspect to the story that I loved.

A wonderfully dark and compelling read!

Five stars from me!

With thanks to Jenny at Michael Joesph Books and Netgalley for my copy. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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