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According to the early reviews for The Chalk Man, it is the must-read book of 2018! Of course, I had to find out for myself…
In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.
In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.
The Chalk Man moves along at a steady pace throughout, the plot is interesting and comes together nicely for a good ending. However, I really struggled to take to this book the way I hoped, it’s billed as a ‘suspense thriller,’ but I didn’t find it suspensefully thrilling. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it but it’s not one I would rush to recommend – maybe another case of setting unrealistic expectations (although, I’m becoming more reluctant to use that phrase because some books have met my exceedingly high expectations.)
It felt more like I was being told a story, rather than experiencing it alongside the characters as I usually do in this type of novel – I didn’t share their emotions or relate to them in any way and I think this caused me to remain at a distance from the plot the entire time. I do, however, appreciate the originality of the characters – and believe based on the personalities Tudor created for them, they’re actions matched them perfectly. I also like that when we meet the characters in the present day, you can totally believe, from the children they were in 1986, that these are the adults they would have grown into.
There was nothing fundamentally wrong with this novel, no major flaws to point out, no errors in timeline or plot – it just wasn’t a perfect fit for me. It had a cool 80’s vibe to the 1986 timeline, the plot held my interest throughout and it was a quick read – but it was missing that excitement factor and for me, the psychological thrills didn’t come through.
Amongst all the early reviews for this title, I am definitely in the minority with my opinion, so maybe read this one for yourself and see how you feel. I would say, if you’re looking for an intense psychological thriller, maybe don’t choose this novel, but if you want a light-hearted novel with dark themes, then pick this one up.
The Chalk Man publishes: January 2018