500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide
Welcome to Chapel Croft.
– The Burning Girls
[ About the Book ]
For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.
And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.
Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.
Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?
Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo. But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . .
[ My Review ]
The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor published on January 21st with Penguin Michael Joseph and is described as ‘the darkly compelling new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chalk Man, The Taking of Annie Thorne and The Other People.’ It is always exciting to pick up a C.J. Tudor book because you know that you are about to read something dark, ominous and sinister. The Burning Girls ticks all those boxes and confirms C.J. Tudor (as the Daily Mail puts it) as ‘Britain’s female Stephen King.’ I’m joining the blog tour today with my review and I also have a audio clip from the book courtesy of PRH Audio, so I do hope you enjoy and are intrigued!
Rev Jack Brooks and her daughter Flo are in need of a new beginning after difficulties in her previous parish left her exposed and unsettled. When a temporary position arose in a small rural village, Jack hoped it would provide them both with the breathing space necessary to get to grips with their lives and to press pause on the frenetic days of recent times. Arriving into the village of Chapel Croft, Jack and Flo immediately realise that this move will be a daunting challenge, especially after they step inside the church and their new cottage. Old, weary and sad looking, this is a church that has witnessed much, most notably its connection to trials that took place over 500 years ago when eight martyrs were burnt to death, two of them young girls who were found hiding in the church at the time. The locals pay tribute to these girls every year with effigies made of twigs resembling the female form with the name of The Burning Girls given to them. Jack is not superstitious but respects the ways of the village until strange incidents begin to arise over the coming days and weeks.
Flo, always an outsider, has no love for Chapel Croft. She is used to the city and all it offers and being isolated away from her old life and friends is a bit of a shock to her. Flo has a passion for photography and the almost sinister vibe that the village exudes creates some fantastic photo opportunities for her. This provides some solace to Jack at the beginning as it keeps Flo busy, but only for a time. When Flo experiences some strange occurrences, she begins to doubt herself. The weather is very warm. The cottage they live in is badly ventilated. Sleeping is difficult and both Jack and Flo are permanently exhausted, casting self-doubt over what they think they see and feel.
The villagers of Chapel Croft are peculiar. Tradition is very important to them and all are very proud and protective of their past, albeit one tainted by death. Celebration of their history and their martyrs carries great meaning for them yet the disappearance of two teenagers thirty years ago is almost glossed over. As Jack explores the past and as some of it lands on her doorstep, she tries to piece together the truth behind this village’s macabre history. As Jack unearths more information she gets to the truth about much of Chapel Croft’s past and it’s certainly one stained with bizarre and eerie happenings.
C.J. Tudor writes creepy and writes it with class. There are many, many layers of pure evil hidden between the covers of this page-turning tale. As the macabre past unfolds, the hairs stand on end and the lights remain on. Religion and reputation are central to this story as the villagers are less than welcoming of an outsider revealing their hidden secrets to the greater world. Jack and Flo are two great characters, both depicted as strong but also as outcasts looking for their place in society. Chapel Croft is a village where some things should not be awakened but as the story unveils itself to the reader it becomes clear that something is trying to get out, something is trying to be freed.
There are serious twists and turns in The Burning Girls with multiple characters requiring full focus. You will question who is good and who is evil. You will doubt your own instinct and you will be shocked and disturbed when the truth outs itself. The Burning Girls is an unsettling, eerie and downright chilling read with a selection of characters that would make milk turn. Prepare to be up past your bedtime folks for shocks aplenty and some serious revelations. Nightmares are made of this!
[ Audio – The Burning Girls ]
LISTEN TO AN AUDIO EXCERPT OF THE BURNING GIRLS (read by Gemma Whelan, Richard Armitage)
[ Bio ]
C. J. Tudor is the author of The Burning Girls, The Other People, The Hiding Place, and The Chalk Man, which won the International Thriller Writers award for Best First Novel and the Strand Magazine Award for Best Debut Novel. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over artist, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. She lives in England with her partner and daughter.
Twitter ~ @cjtudor