In 1986, Eddie and his friends are on the verge of adolescence, spending their days biking in search of adventure. The chalk men are their secret code, stick figures they draw for one another as hidden messages. But one morning the friends find a chalk man leading them to the woods. They follow the message, only to find the dead body of a teenage girl.
In 2016, Eddie is nursing a drinking problem and trying to forget his past, until one day he gets a letter containing a chalk man—the same one he and his friends saw when they found the body. Soon he learns that all his old friends received the same note. When one of them is killed, Eddie realizes that saving himself means figuring out what happened all those years ago. But digging into the past proves more dangerous than he could have known. Because in this town, everyone has secrets, no one is innocent, and some will do anything to bury the truth.
There’s no denying that C.J. Tudor is one of the authors who really came out of nowhere and simply skyrocketed when her debut novel The Chalk Man was published. It’s not only in the UK, she’s really hot and happening with the translation of this novel in Belgium and The Netherlands right now too (called De Krijtman) and I can’t turn anywhere without seeing her name or this book. She’s a name that easily comes to mind when people are discussing what they’ve read recently or still want to read.
With her third novel The Other People now underway, it was finally my signal to pick up the first one. This novel sat on my shelf for so long *hangs head* and I wish I could read faster. I admit I was a little afraid to start this hyped novel too and in all honesty, I couldn’t even remember what it was about (I read a proof copy and there was no synopsis btw), I didn’t mind going in blind though. The Chalk Man and Tudor’s other books can all be read as a standalone so I’m already planning to read the third novel next and then go back later for the second so I can at least feel as if I’ve got it all under control.
I really really enjoyed reading this novel and the author did a magnificent job both on creating the characters and the plotting of the story. In the end I might have felt that the figure of The Chalk Man wasn’t really so scary (rather tragic and sad) nor that there was constant tension in the air, but really, what’s not to like about this novel? I didn’t get bored at all and if I have time to waste, I’m quite happy to spend it reading a novel if it’s anything like The Chalk Man.
The writing was steady and both the past and present had interesting plotlines that made me want to keep on reading and stay right there for a little longer. The lives of Eddie and his friends, Metal Mickey, Fat Gav, Hoppo and Nicky made me long for years I can never have back. I might be guilty of having a really small preference for the past plotline after all. The ’80s was a time where friendships and bonds were made, of riding your bike, seeing things, doing things without realising the consequences or what they meant because they were just too young.
The past isn’t left to rest though, it is brought back to life 30 years later but it is a big mystery who doesn’t want to leave the past to rest. The author kept me at more than an arm’s length of finding out but I enjoyed the journey to the conclusion as much as the reveal itself and it wasn’t what (or who) I expected at all. She didn’t shun away from including a taboo into this novel as well and the author wrote without it being too graphic or disturbing, I even felt sympathy towards a character who was basically in the wrong. It is one of the things which made the story turn out to be a shade darker than I thought it would be, so I can’t wait to find out what else C.J. Tudor has in store.
I received a free copy of this novel from a lovely blogfriend. This is my honest opinion.