- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Michael Joseph (11 Jan. 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0718187431
- ISBN-13: 978-0718187439
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.2 x 24 cm
Looking back it all started on the day of the fair and the terrible accident; when twelve year old Eddie first met the Chalk Man.
It was the Chalk Man who gave Eddie the idea of the drawings: a way to leave secret messages between his group friends. It was fun to start with, until the figures led them to the body of a young girl.
That was thirty years ago, and Ed thought the past was behind him. Then he receives a letter containing just two things: a piece of chalk, and the drawing of a stick figure.
As history begins to repeat itself, Ed realised the game was never over…
Everyone has secrets; Everyone is guilty of something; And children are not always so innocent.
The Chalk Man is the debut novel from C J Tudor, and is already being talked about as one of the best books that will be released in 2018. The plot has a dual timeline, switching seamlessly between 1986 and 2016. In 1986, Eddie and his friends, Metal Mickey, Fat Gav, Hoppo and Nicky, are twelve years old and spending the summer on their bikes as children did in the 1980’s (this brought back fond memories of my childhood). Events that summer will alter their friendships and lives forever, their innocence disappears in a a matter of months. In 2016, they are now in their forties, their relationships have changed but their past comes back to haunt them.
Ed/Eddie is the main narrator and it his through his thoughts and experiences that we learn the of the events. He may not be the most reliable narrator sometimes, he obviously doesn’t remember everything, but then again we all look back at our childhood with gaps in our memory and with rose-tinted glasses. He also drinks quite a lot and has nightmares that are very real and can cloud his memory, and cause confusion as it blurs the line between dreams and reality. The relationship between the gang of five was very natural in their use of nick-names, making fun of each other, and their interaction with each other and others around them. In the present it is obvious that none of them has really moved on from what happened that summer; they have got on with their lives but the events have left their footprint. Nicky was a character I had great empathy for, it was obvious her father physically abused her and it can’t have been easy growing up without her mother, especially at a time when single parents, especially single father’s were rare. It has to be said that by the end of the book all none of the characters come out well, all have their secrets and all have told lies.
There are some difficult issues raised in this novel; rape, abortion, bullying and of course murder. C J Tudor deals with these with great empathy and in a way they would have been treated in the 1980’s, which is very different to now. There wasn’t so much awareness over sexual grooming, rape and bullying then, and this is reflected in the writing of the story.
From an attention grabbing prologue, The Chalk Man continues as a slow burner, simmering with tension and menace until the final thrilling conclusion. With the 1980’s being in vogue in television and film this book fits right in today’s cultural zeitgeist, and I have no doubt that this book is going to fly off the shelves and straight to the top of the bestseller lists. A fantastic debut novel, with a sinister thread running through to keep you up late at night just to see what happens next.