Buzzworthy 2018 Book #1: THE CHALK MAN by C.J. Tudor
Crown; January 9, 2018
It’s that time of year again: time to start compiling a wishlist of 2018 crime fiction! There’s no better way to kick off this year’s “Buzzworthy 2018 Books” series than with a superb crime fiction debut: THE CHALK MAN by C.J. Tudor. Part dark coming of age story, part psychological thriller, this outstanding debut will be a must-read for fans of Stephen King, Ruth Ware, and Liz Nugent—a bit of an eclectic blend, perhaps, but an appropriate illustration of the many facets that will make this debut so widely-appealing. Tudor's exceptional debut is a gripping blend of traumas big and small, imagined and real—a layered suspense story that leads readers down the rabbit hole of horrors that follow a young boy into adulthood. Tense, immersive, and masterfully plotted, THE CHALK MAN delivers a read that's both on-trend and wickedly original. THE CHALK MAN releases January 9th, 2018—mark your calendars now, and stay tuned for a full review of THE CHALK MAN and an interview with author C.J. Tudor closer to publication!
If you’re unfamiliar with my “Buzzworthy Books” series: these posts serve to preview reads I’m already recommending for the coming year. Each post highlights three key elements that make the featured book exceptional enough to start learning about them well in advance!
PLOT SUMMARY: THE CHALK MAN
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.
Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.
What To Love About THE CHALK MAN
Three key elements that make THE CHALK MAN a 2018 Must-Read:
- A cross between a coming of age story and childhood fears: Tudor blends universal experiences of childhood with what are hopefully not universal horrors to fantastic effect. Readers meet main character Eddie when he’s a young boy, growing up in a small town with a gang of friends. Eddie deals with friend group dynamics, bullies, having a crush on someone, and witnessing a brutal accident, finding a body in the woods, mysterious (and creepy) chalk figures, and more. This makes for an unnerving and immersive blend of the mundane and the shocking.
- Quirky, well-meaning yet flawed main character: Eddie is a bit of an oddball. From his appearance (often described as rumpled or disheveled) to his apparent ability to try his best yet not quite get things right, Eddie is an engaging and genuinely interesting character to spend time with. His oddities range from quirky to concerning to downright shocking, and I loved each revelation Tudor provides about his character.
- That. Ending. Talk about a twist!!! This story truly saves its best revelation for its final pages. Somehow, Tudor has woven a story that manages to come full circle so thoroughly, it hits readers over the head with a revelation that will fly under the radar of even the most seasoned suspense reader. I didn't even know I should be looking for clues to this particular reveal, but when the reveal happened, I couldn't believe how perfectly it tied in with the rest of the story. Talk about brilliant plotting—a piece of this story which really hadn’t concerned me in comparison to its central mystery ended up delivering my favorite reveal of the book.
What do you think? Does THE CHALK MAN sound like a book that belongs on your reading list? (Hint: it should!!!) I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions my own.
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Crown (January 9, 2018)
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