When I comprised my Books of 2017 list towards the end of December, I was dead set on the fact that nothing could change my mind and pip a book to the post. The last week of December, after my post had been published and the decisions entirely made, I started reading The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor and around 40 pages in, I realised I had made a pretty awful decision. Not on reading the book- oh no. On posting my books of the year before the year was out; for The Chalk Man is arguably one of the best, if not the best, books that I read in 2017. As was the case with The Dry by Jane Harper that I read and reviewed last January, this book absolutely knocked me sideways and had me reading and reading, completely unable to put the book down. It was one of those books where I had to force myself to stop reading because I simply didn’t want it to end.
The book flips between two time periods, a kind of ‘then’ and ‘now’ between 2016, the book’s present day and 1986, the year when all the trouble started. It revolves around a group of five friends, but focuses primarily on and is written from the perspective of Eddie. Eddie is a teacher at the local secondary school, likes a drink and has seemingly struggled to deal with the death of his father to Alzheimer’s. He receives
a letter in the post that he thinks is a joke, although definitely not a very funny one. The letter reminds him of the events of 1986 and the murder that still, in 2016, had questions unanswered. As children, the group of five, four boys and a girl, create a way of communicating using chalks, each of them using a different colour. Each symbol that they draw has a different meaning, whether it be a warning or telling them to meet somewhere in particular. This is all well and good until someone else starts using their method of communication, confusing matters and sending the group into matters of trouble.
Back to present day, incidents have cast certain members of the group aside. Nikki has long since moved away and Mike has been shunted from the group because of an unfortunate incident, permanently affecting the life Gav. When Mike gets in touch with Eddie with a proposition, everything changes and the chalk men start appearing again, reminding the group of everything they wanted to forget.
I absolutely LOVED this book (in fact, I’ve already recommended it to a few friends who I know are avid readers!). I couldn’t put it down, in spite of my attempts and every page was a twist in a completely different direction. The ending was thought-provoking and intriguing, and was definitely not to be expected. I immediately found myself attached to the characters and each one played a vital role in the story. Every little detail is meaningful and I wasn’t left with unanswered questions at the end. The writing style is intricate and beautiful which most definitely added to its success- it brings about a feeling of nostalgia, which I found funny as I wasn’t even ALIVE in 1986. I honestly can’t wait to see where C.J. Tudor goes next with her writing- she is without a doubt an author to keep an eye on.
A psychological thriller with a difference.
The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor will be published on 11th January 2018 by Penguin: Michael Joseph.
(* This book was kindly gifted to me for review by Penguin: Michael Joseph. All thoughts are my own and I have not received payment for this review.)