Cover Image: The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man

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Member Reviews

Outstanding, and incredible to think that it's a debut. 

Very well written, a plot that keeps you guessing and a true page-turner. 

To say much more would be to spoil it. I've every confidence this book will become a real talking point in the first half of next year.
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I loved the retro snippets in this book, a great story of friendship, murder and loss. What an ending, fantastic.
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Slightly reminiscent of Stand By Me (one of my favourite films, and short stories), I really enjoyed this book. I found the way it jumped from 1986 to present exciting and although I worked out the ending quite early on (the first page, combined with the constant mention of Alzheimer's gave it away early) it was still worth the wild ride. I'm not sure that I liked the many of the characters but for some reason that made me enjoy the book more. I think it says something great about the author when the reader can become invested in the lives of characters they hate. 

I think this book covered a lot of basis; the purity of childhood, along with the complexities of friendship, loss and misplaced trust. This isn't an author I've read before but would certainly read more of their writing.
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I enjoyed this story and remained enthralled right up to the end.
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Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” 
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

I know it's unusual to start a review by talking about the end of a book, but oh boy what an excellent ending that was!

12 year old Eddie Adams and his friends are like any other group of twelve year olds, carefree summer days messing about as kids do, until the day the fair visits the village of Anderbury. A Waltzer carriage breaks away at great speed and careens into the crowd, causing life changing injuries to one teenage girl in particular. That was bad enough, but it was also the day that Eddie met 'The Chalk Man'

Eddie and his mates devise a secret code made up of chalk messages in different colours - each colour being assigned to one of the gang, so they know exactly which one of them wrote each message. They leave messages at each other's homes, and it provides weeks of fun until the day they discover chalk figures leading them to a dead body, but none of the gang had left these messages!

The storyline flits between 1986 and 2016, but how the events of 30 years earlier affect these friends in the present I'm not telling! But rest assured it's a completely riveting journey. There was a great mystery at the heart of it, with some chilling, heart stopping moments, and many twists and turns. The characters were perfect and the whole thing kept me on tenterhooks right the way through. C.J.Tudor has a talent for sure, and it's hard to believe this is her debut novel. Spooky, gripping, compelling!

If a movie director doesn't pick up on this one I'll be very surprised!

*Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin UK, Michael Joseph for my ARC in exchange for an honest review*
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When I saw this book on NetGalley I was instantly intrigued as to what this was going to be about and despite my self-inflicted ban on requesting more books, I caved and requested it... but I'm so glad I did!

The book is centered around Eddie and it switches between the past and present, Eddie as a 12 year old boy and then all grown up. As a boy, him and his friends get given some chalk which they then use to message each other and generally mess about with. You get to see the dynamics of a young friendship group as well as the surrounding adults and how a 12 year old tries to understand how and why adults do the things they do.

In the present day, Eddie still lives in the same area and remains friends with 2 of the boys from the group. The events from their childhood resurface and Eddie desperately tries to put together a puzzle from their childhood that they thought was solved but Eddie's still not sure they got the right man...

This is a wonderful story and I found it hard to put it down. It effortlessly weaves from past to present and the author did a great job of changing the way each part was written. The past sections weren't 'childish' but it really did feel like I was reading a the thoughts of a 12 year old boy. 

Brilliant brilliant book and I suspect it will have great success in 2018!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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As a child, Eddie Munster found most of a body. He and his friends followed mysterious chalk markings to the corpse of a girl, dismembered in the woods. No one ever found her head. 

As an adult, Ed still lives in the same town. He teaches now, and drinks a lot. He tries not to think too much about the past, about the murdered girl or the man who was blamed.

But old memories keep resurfacing, and new chalk marks start to appear. Maybe what happened all those years ago isn't really over, and the accepted story isn't the whole truth. 
It's quite hard to sum up this book, and it's equally hard to classify. There are crimes in it, but it's not really a crime novel or a thriller. There are elements of horror as well, but that doesn't quite fit. It's probably closest to a bildungsroman - a novel concerned with growing up. Perhaps more helpfully, it's a bit like Stand By Me - a story told through flashbacks about a childhood and finding a body. The blurb implies that it's quite like It instead, but that's not accurate.

Adult Ed is the narrator, with the tense shifting from present to past as the time does. That doesn't mean that the voice remains the same between the two; there's a noticeable difference between the childhood and adulthood passages. It rings true, and that's a hard thing to do - most adults have forgotten how children speak. Eddie sounds like, and acts like, a convincing child. 

The prose is consistently strong, not just in the voice but in the effective creation of tension and drama. Because of the nature of the book, there's often an abrupt switch between low- and high- stakes moments, and the writing is good enough to make that have an impact. In the space of a paragraph, the tone can change from light to shocking very fast. 

The book is at its best when dealing with the little details and practicalities of childhood. The crime/murder plotline takes something of a back seat here, and is unwelcome when it intrudes. The heart of this story is a twelve-year-old boy coming to terms with an adult world. 

There's not really a clear thread running through the entire book. Because of the time-shifting nature of the narration, and the generally rambling and discursive nature of the story, it's hard to pin down exactly what is going on at a given point, and why it's significant. That's not really a problem, because, as above, the little details and anecdotes are the main draw of The Chalk Man.

However, the plot itself - what is meant to be the main concept - is weak. The motivation and identity of the murderer aren't things that you end up really curious about, and the passages where people are investigating are some of the slower ones. This isn't really a novel focused on the crime, but it's one that thinks it should be. What you want is more background detail on lives, more character traits to be picked apart, but the last section of the novel ends up being a hunt for the killer. 

Added to that, the plot is overly-complicated and occasionally obstructionist. It doesn't always feel like the reader is being treated fairly. The resolution in particular is somewhat contrived, which weakened my overall view of the book. That's a shame, because I thought that, in many ways, it was very well-written.

What I like about  The Chalk Man is the language, the detail, the childhood characters. I'm less sold on the story as a story.  That's another similarity with Stand By Me. Don't read this for a satisfying narrative, or for a compelling mystery. Read it for the exploration of growing up and getting to grips with the messiness of reality.
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I loved The Chalk Man. I started it and finished it within 24 hours as I just could not put it down. It was so different and fresh in comparison to a lot of the books that are out there now and this really made a difference. Taking the genre and upending it just a touch made The Chalk Man a great book. The dual timelines complemented each other perfectly, and the characters were really well developed. More than once I thought I knew where the book was going, and then I'd read a bit more, and see just how wrong I was. The author has done a fantastic job creating a creepy, twisty and totally gripping novel. Highly recommended!
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Who has been drawing the mysterious chalk figures which link 42 year old Ed to his teenage self?  Ed has never been able to leave  his childhood home behind as a result of a murder he discovered as a teenager and remains plagued by nightmares of the little chalk men which led him to his gruesome discovery.   Nothing is at all what it seems.  I really enjoyed this novel.  The characters are really well drawn, the plot is well paced and page turning and the story very clever indeed.
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The Chalk Man. What a book. Had me gripped from the first page, to the last. With twists throughout.

We follow Eddie, and his friends, through two different timelines 1986 & 2016. All of the characters are likeable and interesting and you will want to keep reading to find out what happens to them. 

Eddie and his friends invent the Chalk Men as a way to tell each other where to meet up by drawing the figures outside each others houses, soon these Chalk Men appear in much more sinister situations. 

This book kept me awake at night wanting to read more, and kept me awake after too because of that shocking ending!! 

Couldn't recommend this book highly enough. Excellent, one of the best I've ever read. Will be buying myself a hard copy when it's released in January.
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This book was very different and also difficult to say what genre it would fall into, having said that it was a great read. Alternating between 1986 and 2016 it follows a group of friends over one summer in 1986 and then the same group in 2016 when they are adults. The characters were well drawn and I found it easy to read.
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A great read from the first page to the last.  Set over two time periods (1986 and 2016) and hops between the two so that you can really see the long-term effect the story had on the main narrator.   In some books this technique can be confusing (The Time-traveller's Wife springs to mind) but here it adds cleverly to the tension.  Part of the story is therefore seen through the naive eyes of teenagers just at the cusp of adulthood whilst the remainder shows the more jaded care-worn effect of passing time.
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There is a wonderfully dark start to this book with a body in the woods.  Then we go back to Eddie as a 12 year old which was "when it all started" at the fair in 1986. Eddie has four friends (of sorts) in a gang.  He also meets "the chalk man".  Almost immediately I found myself fully engaged with the young Eddie and his gang or rather Fat Gav's gang.  Thirty years on and Ed finds that earlier events may have some links and echoes in 2016.

The story is seen through Eddie or Ed's eyes with time shifts between 1986 and 2016.  Using the 2016 perspective means that intervening events can also be viewed.  The gang starts to fragment for various reasons though Ed does stay in touch with a couple of them.  Where are the other two and what have they been doing in the years in between.

I really did find all the characters rich.  Even some of the minor ones were quite clear in my mind.  The two voices of the main character as Eddie and Ed both seemed convincing and appropriate to me.  There is a  gradual reveal of small foibles and large crimes.  These little crumbs of clues dropped along the way are obviously "dropped".  However far from making things simpler they simply ratchet up the tension and make you stop and think… "I wonder if that means…".  As Ed says this is a story about "unforeseen consequences" in many ways.

I really enjoyed this as a read.  I settled into the story and the characters very quickly and it did feel as though they were people I knew or like people I've known.  That is very good writing.  All in all a great read and I'd love to read another book by this author.
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I LOVED this! I don't know why but it reminds me of Stand By Me I suppose only in the way they are friends. Not giving anything away but you should definitely read this book! Full of twists and really well written, it has twists right up to the end. I'll be looking out for more from this author.
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Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.

Somewhere between a thriller, gothic horror, and a coming of age story, this book is well paced and a very enjoyable read. The author weaves the elements from all the genres together fantastically with a wonderfully unreliable narrator. Every plot point is covered off and all loose ends deftly tied up, which is very satisfying as a reader! Distinctive but familiar characters and a great juxtaposition between the secret world of kids and the main character's life after his strange childhood. 

Well beyond expectations, a great read.
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Holy chalk babies!! What an amazing book!! Safe to say I was hooked from page 1. 
The story is basically about a group of friends and the main characters relationship with 'the chalk man' and the groups connections to different murders that have occurred. The characters were so relatable and acted exactly how you would expect little boys too. I felt everything was spot on, from their nicknames to the things they said. 
I'm finding it hard to write more about the story without revealing spoilers since there are just so many twists and turns in this book.. you won't see them coming. 
Every time I thought I had something figured out, I would find out a chapter later how wrong I was! 
I could not put this book down it was like I was addicted to figuring out the mystery! 
And holy hell.. the last page or so.. OH MY GOD. WHAAAAAAT. I was left speechless. It was one hell of a way to end the book!!! 
Amazing 👏🏼👏🏼
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Oh my word this book is excellent!  I wanted to read it again as soon as I'd finished it I enjoyed it so much.  There is so much in this book, and it's so well written.  I can see this being a TV series or film.   I'm going back to read it again now!
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This read more like a  YA novel to me despite the description of what it was. Granted it was the most gory, unsettling and chilling YA novel that would need an 18 rating. It read awkwardly and jumped around from one slang, familiar conversation amongst kids to another. I found it very hard to get into this and the premise of the book but I can see how many are going to love this. It's very Stig of the Dump and reminiscent of a Stephen King novel so there's a lot for fans of this genre to love. It just wasn't for me I'm afraid and I struggled to finish it. I did smile at the Woolies comments and memories of the Walter came flooding back but I felt it was trying too hard overall.
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The Chalk Man is a terrific read. It's got all the components of a bestseller: a gripping mystery, sprinkled with spooky chalk drawings and a bunch of funny kids. The Chalk Man must surely  be one of the books for 2018. I predict a best-seller!

The past section of the book was set in 1986 and the cultural references are so refreshing:  penny sweets, Woolworths and watching Peter Davison as Dr Who. So to the characters: Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, Nicky and of course Eddie, who incidentally is 42 in the present day version of the book, but I'll start with this interesting group of  twelve year olds. We follow their journey as they meet their  gang  and explore  the world, trying to make sense of an adult  orientated world.  Eddie is the main protagonist. When twelve year old Eddie  witnesses a nasty accident  at the fair it  leaves a lasting impression on him and sees him develop a massive crush on the girl who was badly injured. Things soon begin to get sinister  and the gang's world colours a  shade darker. When they fool  around with chalk on pavements, leaving cryptic messages for each other, weird things start to happen. It's as if the chalky messages have caused bad karma: someone is murdered. Someone  is left for dead.  As Eddie grows from a twelve year old into a scruffy English teacher who smokes, drinks and eats far too much for his own good, the story really gets going. I'd describe the present day Eddie (2016) as a likeable nerd, who has a penchant for hoarding things. Aged 42, he lives in the same house he grew up in and has the same group of friends as he did when he was a kid.  However, Eddies boring life is not to be for much longer. Definitely not actually, when he receives a mysterious letter, with a drawing of a chalk man. Soon  the ghosts of the past return to haunt him. I refuse to tell you anymore as it will spoil the book and it's so good, I don't want to risk it!
There is so much to adore about the Chalk Man. I was in love with the powerful writing, the nostalgic references of the 80's. This book is best described as a murder mystery, with a bunch of quirky kids in southern England and a blast of really well crafted humour. There is a dark lens to the story, that resonates and stays with you long after the last page. This book is like a tube of Pringles. It's  addictive; once you start turning the pages you can't stop.  The writer deals well with the theme of murder and how it touches the lives of this community and changes things. Other themes include bullying, rape and abortion which are handled beautifully and really well written and with care. The dialogue is great, the storyline is genius and the narrative style refreshing and humorous..
The Chalk Man is out in early 2018. It is an exceptional debut. Be prepared to be in awe. I only hope you fall in love with it as much as I did. It's a poignant story with a warning, that's neatly wrapped up in a gripping mystery/suspense! You won’t forget the chalk man, scrawled on pavements. Cross your fingers they don't come back to haunt you,  like they did to  Eddie!
Buy this book as soon as its out. In fact, pre-order it now  — I insist!
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